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Berliner Dom and TV Tower in Berlin
Berliner Dom and TV Tower in Berlin | © zoetnet / Flickr
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11 Things Berlin is Famous For That Make It The City It Is Today

Picture of Alice Dundon
Updated: 21 March 2018
Hordes of tourists are putting Berlin on their travel bucket list. They are drawn in by the city’s unshakably cool persona and rich, ever-present history that shaped much of what the city is known for today. Here are the top things Berlin is famous for that make the city such a cultural, exciting hub for locals and tourists alike.

A tumultuous past

Much of the 20th century saw Germany shaken by World Wars, cruel regimes, physical division and eventual freedom. Berlin remained at the centre during this time, and its tumultuous history has helped shape the city into the multifaceted, liberal powerhouse it is today.

East Side Gallery, the Largest Remaining Stretch of the Berlin Wall
East Side Gallery, the Largest Remaining Stretch of the Berlin Wall | © Pascal Volk / Flickr

Abandoned sights

Abandoned spy stations, skeletal buildings, forgotten theme parks and deserted bunkers are scattered throughout Berlin. Steeped in history and an eerie beauty, these sites continue to draw in urban explores to capture the city’s hollow remains.

Teufelsberg is One of Berlin’s Most Famous Abandoned Sites
Teufelsberg is One of Berlin’s Most Famous Abandoned Sites | © Stas / Flickr

A multicultural society

After the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, labour shortages saw many foreign workers moving to Berlin; although the program was originally temporary, generations later many of these works still call the city home. Moreover, since 2011 through to today, expats and asylum seekers have been flocking to the city, further weaving their cultures into Berlin’s identity.

Refugees Welcome Street Art in Berlin
Refugees Welcome Street Art in Berlin | © Susanne Nilsson/ Flickr

Permissive parties

Berlin’s nightlife is famous the world over, attracting around 40,000 to 50,000 visitors every weekend.

Watergate Nightclub in Berlin
Watergate Nightclub in Berlin | © Alex Griffioen / Flick r

Vibrant streets

It’s hard to find a corner of Berlin that isn’t singing with street art, particularly in trendy neighbourhoods, Kreuzberg and Neukölln. The vibrant city streets reflect the artistic energy humming in the air.

Inspiring artists

Since major Klaus Wowereit dubbed Berlin ‘poor but sexy’ over a decade ago, artists have flocked to the city. To this day, the city still maintains its pull for artists, reflecting its long history of inspiring creatives.

Urban Spree Gallery and Event Space is A Hang Out for Creatives
Urban Spree Gallery and Event Space is A Hang Out for Creatives | © Mika Stetsovski / Flickr

Strong musical roots

Berlin is an epicentre for musical exploration and has embodied a kind of sanctuary for artists over the years, including the likes of Bowie and Iggy Pop. This has led to the city being captured and remembered through music, creating a sort of soundtrack for Berlin.

David Bowie was Inspired to Write The Berlin Trilogy in the City
David Bowie was Inspired to Write The Berlin Trilogy in the City | © Photobra|Adam Bielawski / WikiCommons

Diverse foodie scene

Berlin’s multicultural society has integrated itself nicely into the foodie scene. The effect is a diverse, delicious gastronomy landscape, rich in street food markets, unique restaurants and signature dishes.

Anti-establishment roots

Punk culture thrived towards the end of the Berlin Wall era and well after its fall. In certain parts of the city, OG punks can still be found squatting, drinking and asking for weed money. On the first of May each year, known as May Day, the city ignites in this anti-establishment energy as everyone takes to streets to party and protest.

May Day Party at Goerlitzer Park
May Day Party at Goerlitzer Park | © rychelieu / Flickr

Pioneering for LGBTQ rights

On August 29, 1867, 42-year-old lawyer Karl Heinrich Ulrichs went before the German parliament in Munich to urge the repeal of laws forbidding sex between men. His first pleas were met with a mixed response of hushed agreements and silencing outcries. Ulrichs, essentially the first gay activist, encountered censorship and ended up in exile; however, his ideas gradually took hold. Fast-forward to the Roaring Twenties in Berlin when gay subcultures flourished, halted only by the Second World War. Slowly but surely, the embracing of LGBTQ culture found its way back into the city, and it remains a special place for these communities.

Pride Parade, or CSD, in Berlin
Pride Parade, or CSD, in Berlin | © Paul David Doherty / WikiCommons

A place for everybody to express themselves

The liberated, open energy of Berlin creates an atmosphere where, paired with its diverse society and community-oriented mindset, this allows a space for people to express themselves freely.