The cultural nucleus of a great nation

Berlin’s dramatic history still attracts many visitors but there’s also plenty of top-notch food and shopping to do in a city that’s changing fast.

The classic things to do in Berlin include visiting compelling icons of 20th century history like the Berlin Wall and Checkpoint Charlie. But these days a common description of the German capital is “little Brooklyn”, with edgy fashion boutiques, gourmet cafés and restaurants springing up throughout Berlin.

Berlin is spacious and lacks an obvious centre – fitting for a city with an anarchic edge. Mitte is the closest to it: here you’ll find tourist favourites like the Reichstag and Brandenburg Gate, as well as chi-chi cafes and ritzy shopping. The upscale neighbourhood of Charlottenburg offers museums and theatres; while Neukölln has a little more creative grit. Families will appreciate the abundant green spaces, such as the vast Tiergarten: a former hunting ground that’s now Berlin’s giant lungs.

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Berlin Landmarks

After 1989, Berliners turned a stretch of the Berlin Wall into a work of art. At just over a kilometre long, the East Side Gallery – named for the powerful murals painted on it just after the wall’s fall – is deeply evocative of the era and its significance.

The Brandenburg Gate symbolises Berlin’s survival through adversity throughout the ages. Topped by a forceful statue of a horse-drawn chariot once stolen by Napoleon – before being won back – the Brandenburg Gate triumphal arch was the backdrop to President Kennedy’s 1969 “I am a Berliner” speech and a legendary Leonard Bernstein concert broadcast to thousands cheering the wall’s demise.

Checkpoint Charlie was the famous crossing point between East and West Berlin between 1961 and 1989. A replica of the beige guardhouse – scenery star of many a blockbuster espionage thriller – now sits on the Checkpoint Charlie site along with an outdoor exhibit.

Click here for more inside information on Berlin sightseeing.

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