Berlin: The European Capital of History

Berlin is known for its history and culture around the world. The city only reunified in 1990 and it still has distinct features from its past. Berlin is almost two cities mixed into one. After visiting Berlin on two occasions, one as part of a school trip and one with friends on a Europe trip, I can say I have fallen in love with Berlin.

For travellers who are interested in history and culture then Berlin is a great city to visit. Of course, there are many places that have both great history and culture but for me, Berlin is on a new level. As someone who studies History and Politics at University, it is easy to see why Berlin is one of my favourite cities. Historically, one of the most interesting things in Berlin for me was visiting Sachsenhausen concentration camp. Whilst here, you can take a tour around the camp and experience first-hand the horrors people had to endure if they were unfortunate enough to become imprisoned here. The camp itself is designed in an arc so that a soldier in a tower at the front of the camp, armed with a machine gun, can shoot almost anywhere in the complex. Personally, the tale that shocked me the most was that prisoners would receive a severe beating for wearing the incorrect uniform, and a common “trick” from the guards would be to take off a prisoner’s hat and throw it onto the gravel border. If you didn’t retrieve your hat, you’d receive the beating. However, if you entered the gravel border, you’d be on the grounds of trying to escape. There were many other brutalities committed within the camp, such as suspending prisoners from bindings around their wrists, and experiments using mustard gas were trialed on prisoners.

Whilst in Berlin, obviously one activity that you have to do is visit the Berlin Wall. The Berlin Wall led to thirty years of Berliners being cut off from one another. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, many famous artists from around the world have come and created art pieces on it. I think the reason why the Berlin Wall is so fascinating to go and visit, is because it’s a structure like no other. The history behind the Wall speaks for itself, and it’s something I would recommend seeing if you’re planning a trip to Berlin.

Berlin is one of the great democracies of the world. A tour of the Reichstag allows you to learn and educate yourself on how German democracy has developed since the Second World War. And if you choose to go to the top of the glass dome you will also get a spectacular view of the city.

Another fun and interesting activity that I would recommend doing is visiting the DDR museum. In fact, I enjoyed it so much I visited it twice. If you want to get a true experience of what life was like in East Germany, I recommend visiting the DDR museum. The museum is dedicated to the GDR and is very interactive. It gives you an insight into so many various aspects, such as, housing, fashion, and industry. A highlight was being able to virtually drive the Trabant – the most famous car in the GDR.

Whilst in Berlin I was lucky enough to watch the 2014 World Cup Final which Germany won. The fan zone was absolutely packed and the atmosphere immense. This is one of the best experiences of Berlin as it was so different to anything that I have ever been a part of. It’s not every day you get to watch a country win the World Cup in their own capital city.

After visiting Berlin a couple of times the Olympic Stadium never fails to disappoint. The mega structure built by the Nazis for the 1936 Olympic Games is now used as a football stadium by Hertha Berlin. The stadium used to host over 100,000 people but has been modified and reduced to around 70,000. The impressive modification allows the structure of the old venue to be mixed with a modern look. The entry fee was around 10 euros as we were students.

Inevitably, if you are visiting Berlin you will end up visiting the Brandenburg Gate. One of the most famous landmarks in Europe, it is a must see! Although the area is usually packed it’s worth getting a snap. There are also numerous other monuments, such as the Soviet War Memorial and the huge Angel of Germany, both situated on the road to the Brandenburg Gate. In this area, there are quite a few attractions for travellers to visit. However, be careful about stopping to eat in this area if you are on a budget!

The nightlife in Berlin is quite simply incredible. Berlin is known for its love of techno and Berlin certainly doesn’t disappoint. Although we didn’t experience much of Berlin’s nightlife, when we go back we will definitely be hitting the town.

If you decide to visit Berlin. You will realise that Berlin has so much to offer that it is just impossible to mention everything. But this only makes Berlin a perfect place for travellers to travel too. What makes Berlin such a great city to go and visit, is that it has enough to do for people who wish to visit for a couple of days and also enough for people wishing to spend longer.

View the rest of our Berlin pictures here.

 

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