Sunday, 22 July 2012

Summer in Berlin, it's alright PART II

♫ Alphaville – Forever Young

I'll start this part by mentioning three "must see" attractions which are located quite close to each other. Okay well, only one of them is a must-must-see, others very intriguing though.

On our first whole day we took an S-Bahn to Hauptbahnhof, the main railway station, and headed south, across The Spree river.

Moby Dick!

This is the house of parliament, the Bundestag. It's almost "right across the Spree from Hauptbahnhof" and worth seeing since the building is beautiful, though we only settled for viewing it from the outside. We saw groups of people going in and coming out, so I can probably say it's possible to get there – however, the security measures seemed to be strict, maybe for a reason.

I like these photos with my blurry face. :>

Brandenburger Tor
In my opinion, this would be the symbol of Berlin, the first of those. So it's a must see! Brandenburger Tor, being Tor, a gate, is a monument to walk through at least. However, although it's probably nothing but a gate, we managed to spend about two hours there altogether, not at one go, but still. We just took some... photos. Brandenburger by day, Brandenburger by dusk, Brandenburger by night...

Besides the historical gate and its architectural beauty, there may be other interesting things to see at the spot. Maybe something on the back side, towards Straße des 17. Juni (yes, that's a street), but more on the front side, where the quadriga is facing, where the is a square called Pariser Platz. So keep your eyes open! You are probably likely to see a whole bunch of tourists (and if you're strolling "alone" and with a big camera hanging around your neck like me, you might be asked to take a lot of photos for others), but there were many groups offering "attractions" to tourists. Many people dressed up so that you could have your photo taken with them for a few euros (old soldier uniforms with historical flags and such, but also Star Wars characters), a guy making huge soap bubbles, musicians, dance and acrobatics...

Brandenburger Tor, so beautiful that it attracts visitors from other galaxies!

The quadriga

And what I spent money on: a guy who had the uniform of a border guard and who was offering curiosity scraps of paper. For two euros I got a Brandenburger tor postcard with several interesting stamps (which he stamped right there in front of my eyes) such as a DDR VISUM Brandenburger Tor one and a Soviet Berlin related one, a print of 100 DM, a Brandenburger Tor bookmark and a hand-numbered one-day visa to cross the old border (with a DDR stamp too!). Of course they're just pieces of paper, but interesting enough, and I love the stamps! (And as a graphic designer I'm interested in many types of... prints.) And the price was not bad for a tourist who's interested in the history of the city. The dividing of Berlin is one of the most interesting things in recent history since even I have existed while the city was still divided (though I gotta say, back then I didn't care much).

Holocaust Mahnmal
The memorial to the murdered Jews of Europe is just south of Brandenburger Tor, very close to it anyway. Although it's a monument for a remarkable historical event, the site itself is not old: the monument was opened in 2005. It is "only" a huge bunch of concrete slabs put up in a grid pattern on a sloping field, but I found it very, very impressive. Some people call it a labyrinth, but no, it's a simple grid pattern. Just go deep in the middle of the area and you'll see how impressive it is! However, don't try to climb onto the slabs – it's neither very polite since it is a monument for murdered people nor very wise since the security will call you down at once. It's not very safe either. And no, I didn't try, but saw many people doing it.

Both big roads from Brandenburger Tor, the aforementioned Straße des 17. Juni (west of it) and Unter den Linden (east of it) are interesting and beautiful in their own right too, but more will come later. Unter den Linden also crosses Friedrichstraße (mentioned in my previous post) not far from Brandenburger. Until the next time – so long!

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