About Berlin

Berlin is the capital city of Germany and one of the 16 states (Länder) of the Federal Republic of Germany. Berlin is the largest city in Germany and has a population of 4.5 million within its metropolitan area and 3.5 million from over 190 countries within the city limits.

Berlin is best known for its historical associations as the German capital, internationalism and tolerance, lively nightlife, its many cafés, clubs, and bars, street art, and numerous museums, palaces, and other sites of historic interest. Berlin's architecture is quite varied. Although badly damaged in the final years of World War II and broken apart during the Cold War, Berlin has reconstructed itself greatly, especially with the reunification push after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

It is now possible to see representatives of many different historic periods in a short time within the city centre, from a few surviving medieval buildings near Alexanderplatz, to the ultra modern glass and steel structures at Potsdamer Platz. Because of its tumultuous history, Berlin remains a city with many distinctive neighbourhoods.


People

Berlin is a relatively young city by European standards, dating to the thirteenth century, and it has always had a reputation as a place filled with people from elsewhere. It may seem tough to find someone born and raised here! This is part of Berlin's charm: it never gets stuck in a rut.

A certain uneasy détente still exists between some former residents of East and West Berlin (and Germany). Wessi evolved as a derogatory nickname for a West German; its corollary is Ossi. The implication here is that after reunification, the West Germans automatically assumed the way they do things is the right way, and the way the Easterners should start doing it, too. Westerners got a reputation for being arrogant. They saw the Easterners as stubborn Communist holdouts interested only in a handout from the "rich West." Consider a shirt for sale in a shop inside the Alexanderplatz Deutsche Bahn station:

  • Gott, schütze mich vor Sturm und Wind/und Wessies die im Osten sind ("God, protect me from the storm and wind, and Wessies who are in the East").
  • Another such stereotype is reflected by the short poem: Der Ossi ist schlau und stellt sich dumm, beim Wessi ist es andersrum ("The Ossi is sly and pretends to be simple-minded, and with the Wessi, it's the other way around").
  • However, most of the younger generation do not share such prejudices.


Reichstag

The Reichstag, seat of the German Parliament, is the most famous landmark in Berlin.

The Reichstag in Berlin is the traditional seat of the German Parliament. Built in 1894, the historic building was remodeled in the 1990s by British architect Sir Norman Foster. It was adorned with a modern glass dome, which offers a look into the parliamentary proceedings as well as panoramic views of the Berlin skyline.

There is almost always a line to get into the Reichstag, but don't worry, it moves fast and it's worth the wait.

The best time to visit the Reichstag is in the late afternoon or evening: The lines are usually shorter, and the view from the glass dome at sunset is spectacular.


Brandenburg Gate

Without a doubt, the Brandenburg Gate is Berlin's signature attraction. Built in 1791, it was just one of many old city gates around the city of Berlin which, at that time, was still a manageable size. The decorative Pariser Platz was laid at the foot of the gate and is now home to many of the city's important buildings, for example, the Hotel Adlon with its wealth of history and the Akademie der Künste (Academy of the Arts).


Fernsehturm - Berlin Television Tower

Anyone who has ever been to Berlin has seen it. Indeed, it is hard to imagine not being able to take notice of it. No wonder - the Berlin Television Tower, which is 368 metres tall, is the highest publicly accessible building in Europe. But it’s even more than that.