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.
If you’ve got a mind like me, you’ll probably want to go to Berlin because of its history associated with the World Wars. Of course, there are hundreds of places to visit that give a great in depth insight into all different aspects of these, especially the Second World War. One of the things you should do is take a short trip via public transport to Sachsenhausen concentration camp. Whilst here, you can take a tour around the camp and experience first hand the horrors people had to endure should they be unfortunate enough to become imprisoned here. Although not a explicitly a death camp, many people still died 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. The tale that shocked me the most personally was that prisoners would receive a severe beating for wearing 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. If you entered the gravel border, you’d be shot 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 trialled on prisoners.
There is of course a lot more to the historical side of Berlin than the war. One such aspect is the city being split in two, seperated by the infamous Berlin Wall. The West side of the wall was controlled by the FRG and the east side of the wall the GDR. The wall became infamous as it split the city in two which left families on the opposite side of the wall. Many people tried to escape the east by crossing the wall which led to fatalities.
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 different aspects, such as, housing, fashion and industry. A particular 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 fanzone was absolutely packed and the atmosphere immense. This was a particular highlight of my trip as it’s not every day you get to watch a country win the World Cup in their own capital city.
After visiting Berlin numerous 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 is used to host over 100,000 people but has been modified and reduced to around 70,000. The stadium’s impressive modification allows the structure of the old stadium to be mixed with the modern stadium.
Obviously, if you are visiting Berlin you have to visit the Brandenburg Gate. One of the most famous landmarks in Europe, it is a must see! Although the area is usually packed it’s definitely 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.
If you visit, you’ll see Berlin is far too vast for me to mention everything, so you’ll have to go see for yourself. But this adds to make Berlin so special, there really is too much to do and see if you’re only going for a relatively short stay, and I would really recommend doing so if you have a spare week or two.