The Brandenburg Gate is probably the most-used image for postcards or tourist guides about Berlin; it shapes the public appearance of the city like no other building. It was built in the end of the 18th century on the order of the Prussian king, Friedrich Wilhelm II. By Carl Gotthard Langhans, it is inseparably tied to many points in German history. Marking the border between East and West Berlin more than 25 years ago, it became a symbol of the German reunification after the fall of the Iron Curtain.
Finished in 1894, Reichstag has been the center of many important milestones of recent German history. In 1918, the Weimar Republic was proclaimed from the Western balcony, and in 1945, to display the end of the Third Reich, the flag of the Soviet Union was raised. Nowadays, the Reichstag is the seat of the Bundestag, and, thus, the place where Germany’s legislative branch meets. In 1999, the Reichtagskuppel (the glass dome on the building) was added and has ever since been a tourist attraction and a place where German history can be explored.
The Television Tower in the city center near Alexanderplatz is the tallest building in Germany and also a must-see during a Berlin trip. It was built by the GDR because the country needed a high-performance transmitter station that could reach households throughout the entire country. The tower, occasionally called ‘Alex Tower,’ was finished in 1969. Nowadays, the tower accommodates a restaurant, which turns hourly on its own axis, a spectacular view from 203 meters high and several radio broadcasting stations.
On Potsdamer Platz, old meets new — more than one modern building can be found within short distance to extant pieces of the old Berlin Wall. First and foremost, the façade of the Sony Center dominates the appearance of the square. The ensemble of buildings was finished in 2000 and was designed by Helmut Jahn, who left the oval forum in the middle of the buildings open in order for it to constitute a part of the public urban space. Thus, Potsdamer Platz appeals as an open space to visitors.
The Berlin Cathedral, with its mighty cupola in the center of the city, was built from 1894 to 1905 by order of the emperor, Wilhelm II. Its architectonic style is strongly influenced by the Italian High Renaissance. The interior is filled with elements from the Reformation period and the New Testament. During the Second World War, the cathedral was damaged extensively and restoration was only completed in 2002. It is the largest and most important Protestant church in Germany’s capital. Nowadays, church services, concerts, readings and guided tours for tourists are offered.
The Museum Island can be found on the northern tip of Spree Island and can be seen as the epicenter of Berlin’s museum landscape. A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1999, it is home to five museums: Old Museum, New Museum, Pergamon Museum, Old National Gallery and Bode Museum. Designed as a modern Roman Forum, the Museum Island is home to many artifacts originating from private collections of the Prussian royal family. The island is not only an option for rainy weather but also for a nice stroll around beautiful old buildings.
The column on the Road of July 17th was designed to remind people of the victories of the Prussians against Denmark, Austria and France. Originally, the column stood in front of the Reichstag, but it was relocated to Tiergarten’s main roundabout during the Nazi dictatorship in 1938. The statue on top, 8.3 meters tall and gold-plated, represents Victoria, Goddess of Victory. Berliners like to call the statue ‘Goldelse.’ For a breathtaking view over the city, climb the 285 stairs that lead to a viewing platform.
Central Station at Washington Square
Another great example of modern architecture is the Central Station at Washington Square, which is not far from the Reichstag. It is the biggest tower railway station in Europe and Berlin’s most important passenger transport station, with more than 300,000 travelers per day. Moreover, endless shops and restaurants can be found in the wide halls of the railway station, in order to prevent waiting passengers from getting bored. The building was designed by architect Meinhard von Gerkan and opened in 2006.