Visiting Berlin


A Bloomberg report dated September 4, 2014 says that Berlin has become Europe’s third most-visited city, after London and Paris, beating Rome into fourth place in the process. So a good reason to go to Berlin if you are still hesitating.
Apart from the sites of great historical interest for visitors curious to know what has become of what used to be two Berlins, the greatest attraction to most tourists is undoubtedly a visit to the glass dome and roof terrace of the Reichstag building where Germany's Parliament sits. The visit is free but must be reserved in advance online here. You can either choose to visit the dome on your own or be taken on a guided visit of the German Bundestag.
(The Bundestag is the parliament of the Federal Republic of Germany while the Reichstag was the parliament of previous regimes. The building is still referred to as the Reichstag building though it is occupied by the Bundestag today.)
Reichstag building in Berlin
The Reichstag building as seen from the outside.
Invitation letter to visit glass dome of Reichstag building in Berlin
The precious invitation letter that allows you to visit the glass dome and roof terrace of the Reichstag building.

Once you have filled up the reservation form you will be asked to click on a link in the email sent to you. I got my invitation in a pdf file (see scanned photo above) by email within hardly 15 minutes after I had submitted my application, although it was on a Sunday. Talking about German efficiency. But if you want to be sure of getting it for the date and time you wish, it is advisable to apply for it at least one or two weeks before your trip begins.
Glass dome of Reichstag building
The spectacular glass dome as seen from the roof terrace.

Inside the glass dome of Reichstag building
What the glass dome looks like from the inside. Note the visitors walking up or down the lengthy spiral ramp.

View from top of Reichstag building dome
The "heavenly" view that greets your eyes when you reach the top of the dome! (There are "sliding" benches all round for you to lie down to look up and admire the sky - for those who are not afraid to make themselves at home!).

Another highlight of your visit to Berlin is to see the historic Berlin Wall - or rather remnants of what used to be the Berlin Wall separating West Berlin from East Berlin. Coming into existence in 1961, it was only on 9 November 1989 that it fell officially, though its actual demolition was only completed in 1992 (Source: Wikipedia). To go to the East Side Gallery (where a section of the wall has been preserved) you can take subway Line 1 (U1) and get off either at the Schlesisches Tor station if you want to walk across the Oberbaum bridge or go right on to its terminus at the Warschauer station. Below are some of the paintings on the 1.3km long preserved wall making it a vast, sprawling open-air exhibition alley today instead of the barrier between West and East Berlin that it used to be. In fact 118 artists from 21 different countries took part in the project just after the fall of the Berlin Wall to depict the political events of the period. However a number of the paintings have not withstood the test of time while others have been disfigured by graffiti.

1. Painting on Berlin Wall at East Side Gallery
1. Paintings now cover what used to be part of the Berlin Wall.

2. Painting on Berlin Wall at East Side Gallery
2. Over 100 artists from all over the world took part in the project.

3. Painting on Berlin Wall at East Side Gallery
3. And to think that this was formerly a drab and heart-rending barrier to stop the exodus of East Berliners fleeing to West Berlin to join their families or loved ones or simply to look for a better life.
4. Painting on Berlin Wall at East Side Gallery
4. The first three paintings are on the wall along Muhlenstr street on the West Berlin side. The photo above shows some paintings on what used to be the East Berlin side of the wall.


You might also want to visit Checkpoint Charlie, a crossing point in the Berlin Wall which has since become a tourist attraction, having featured in a number of movies. It's located at Friedrichstraße 43-45 and the nearest subway station is Kochstr on U6 (Line 6).
Other places of interest to tourists in Berlin are Alexanderplatz, a very busy square of great importance to tourists as there are a number of attractions nearby, such as the TV Tower (Fernsehturm), the World Clock (Weltzeituhr), the Berliner Dom cathedral and Museum Island (Museumsinsel), so called because it is surrounded on all sides by the Spree River and contains five museums in close proximity to each other.

Alexanderplatz in Berlin
There are always plenty of movement in Alexanderplatz as it is the hub of Berlin's public transport network.

World Clock (Weltzeituhr) at Alexanderplatz in Berlin
This World Clock (locally known as Weltzeituhr) is of interest to visitors who come from all over the world.

Berliner Dom (Berlin Cathedral)
The eye-catching Berliner Dom (Berlin Cathedral) is located in the Museum Island (Museumsinsel) in the Mitte district.

Pergamonmuseum and Neues Museum in Berlin
Not far from it are the Pergamonmuseum and the Neues Museum as well as three other museums.

Brandenburg Gate (Brandenburger Tor) in Berlin
Brandenburg Gate (Brandenburger Tor), symbol of German unity.

Open-air Holocaust Memorial in Berlin
Not far from here is the open-air Holocaust Memorial.

Unter den Linden boulevard in Berlin
The extremely broad Unter den Linden boulevard reminds one of the Champs Elysees in Paris.

The prestigious Humboldt University in Unter den Linden, Berlin
The prestigious Humboldt University is located right along the Unter den Linden boulevard.

KaDeWe department store in Berlin
The long-established KaDeWe department store is just across the Wittenbergplatz subway station on U1 (Line 1).

Europa-Center in Berlin
The Europa-Center is one subway stop away from the KaDeWe department store. It's near the Kurfurstendamm station.