There are towns in which I was already a couple of times, but I still like them to come back and explore it anew. For example Berlin is this kind of city that every time something surprises me with it. This time I decided to move away a little from well-known to me center of Mitte and look at Berlin from the perspective of its inhabitants. With the Warsaw Outgoing Group and my friend Eve it was possible in one autumn weekend. I invite you to explore alternative Berlin and Festival of Lights.
The plan was simple enough – we leave on Friday evening. We arrive in Berlin on Saturday morning. Then we do sightseeing and in the evening we go back in the morning so as to be already in Warsaw, which is typical city break. It was going to be so intense weekend, two days without real sleep and rain. I went back wasted but happy and I would recommend a this spontaneous trip to everyone.
I rarely visit twice in year the same city. Berlin is an exception. In August I was in there with parents, who wanted to see it in the perspective of 40 years. For them especially interesting was so called West Berlin – formerly forbidden fruit. This does not mean that East Berlin has nothing to offer. It’s actually opposite. It is steeped in history and has its own unique character.
During the trip with parents we met on the train an older lady who came from West Berlin. Her story inspired me to learn more and deeper about Berlin. I got even from her the list of places to visit. That day, unfortunately, due to time constraints, we didn’t manage it. So when the opportunity came, it would be a sin not to take advantage of it.
We arrived in Berlin around 8:30. Our day in Berlin began with the crossroads of streets Bernauer Straße and Acker Straße in the vicinity of the station Nordbahnhof. It is here located on the 1.4 km long Berlin Wall Memorial (Gedenkstätte Berliner Mauer), and there was a border between East and West Berlin. In my opinion, a unique place not only for Berliners and Germans, but anyone who remembers the Cold War and the division between GDR and FRG.
Fragments of the Berlin Wall can be found in several locations in Berlin, e.g. Potsdamer Platz (Potsdamer Platz) and at the Museum of Terror (Topographie des Terrors) – the former headquarters of the Central Security Office of the Third Reich. However, this piece of the wall is special. First of all, because here we have two walls. I admit that before I did not know that the border belt consisted of two walls- east and west. Between them housed the so-called. death zone with watchtowers. As you might guess it was the place where they were shot heroes who have managed to overcome the so-called. wall on the side of East Berlin.
It is known, however, that people do not give up, and there have been many attempts to penetrate the wall of which resemble embedded in the sidewalks adjacent plaques. Developed at the time propaganda had it that during one such escape was shot a soldier of the GDR, to whom is dedicated the plaque on one of the buildings. Some also tried to infiltrate into the building underground tunnels. Often the neighbors digging a them at the same time with full conspiracy. On the grass there are stone plate indicating the place of one of the tunnel dug by residents.
We can see beyond the typical buildings of East Berlin in the 80s of the twentieth century. During the division of the city all the buildings were bricked the first floor to make it difficult to penetrate to the other side of the wall.
Across the street is a Center of documentation and exhibition that illustrates the history of the construction of the wall in 1961 and the situation in the divided city. The tower overlooks the preserved part of the border facilities and memorial to the division of the city and the victims of communist terror. I think it worth a visit. Unfortunately, we did not make it due to too early in the morning.
Another interesting object resembling absurd division of Berlin’s history and contemporary politics is open in 2000, so-called Chapel of Reconciliation (Kapelle der Versöhnung). The chapel was built on the ashes blown up in 1985, the Church of Reconciliation. The reason, of course, was the direct vicinity of the “zone of death”. A similar fate befell the stations on the side of the GDR. Some subway lines and S-Bahn of Germany crossed areas of the GDR. Of course, the trains could not stop at the stations of the GDR so consequently been walled up and deserted. In this way, the train passed through what is called stations spectrum.
Our next goal was situated in the north of the Grunewald forest area called Devil Mountain or Teufelsberg(admission 7€). In fact, hard to define clearly what is the place. In the past, there was a tower of the listening Stasi (chief of the security organ of the German Democratic Republic) to eavesdrop on West Berlin. Stasi was the then equivalent of the US’s internal intelligence agency NSA (National Security Agency), where until recently he worked Edward Snowden.
Today, it is the highest artificial bringing (80m) in Berlin, which was founded on the ruins of buildings from the period of World War II. In addition to numerous murals there is a whole bunch of garbage and strange artistic installations. There is also the possibility of the entrance stairs to the tower which offers a panoramic view of the city. In the evenings it is a trendy place for rendezvous Berliners and night events.
On the way we pass, among others, through the district Wittenau with typical old houses and the gateway to the red brick rest of the former AEG factory Pass also Gesundbrunnen district, which owes its name to the once located here healing springs.
Next heading in the direction of Kreuzberg, which is the former ghetto of West Berlin. Currently is inhabited mainly by young people. There is Landwehrkanal canal, which flows through the districts of Charlottenburg, Tiergarten and connects the upper and the lower part of the river Spree.
In the south-western part of Kreuzberg is popular for picnics and walking park Tempelhofer Freiheit, which was created from closed in 2008, the old Tempelhof airport.
At the crossroads of Nostit Straße and Bergmann Strasse is a market hall Marheineke Matzbach, and next to it a flea market. I do not know about you, but I love this kind of places and almost never leave them empty-handed. There couldn’t therefore be different this time. My attention took lovely leather boots with flowers. After reflection, however, I came to the conclusion that they are a little too big. Who would have thought that a few meters further I will buy instead of them rubber boots, which, however, do not look like rain boots. Shoes were made of rubber, but on the heels and the shape of boots. Began increasingly to rain so buying them seemed ideal. I was walking in them over 10 hours so shopping was successful.
Next to the market hall is a quite specific fountain in the form of several plates of bronze. Later I checked, it is a Fünf-Wasser-Tiegel by Paul Pfarr, which in those days was a very modern installation. A special system of channels and design combined with internal source provided a steady and natural circulation of water in the square.
But the real pleasure of shopping was yet to come. We got around in the street Eichen Straße next to which is the so-called Berlin Arena – the huge halls full of antiques and antiquities. The very entrance to the complex surprises.
Buildings located on the river with residential boats at first glance resemble district of Copenhagen – Christiania. Besides, the air is filled with the smell of marijuana, which further enhances the effect. Passing another street and standing by them industrial buildings I got the impression as I were walking on the Praga district in Warsaw.
At the end of the street we can see the original skyline and the Molecule Man, 30 meters installation on the river.
We go around the bridge Oberbaumbrücke, which formerly separated East Berlin from the West. In the area opposite the Merdes- Benz Arena is the world’s longest open-air gallery that is the East Side Gallery.
It is a piece of the Berlin Wall, which are preserved in the district of Friedrichshain. After the fall of the Wall in 1989, dozens of artists over to the east side has used it as a gray concrete surfaces for painting. In this way, numbering 1,316 km wall is a collection of murals by international artists and a symbol of freedom.
After taking a short walk along the wall, we move on. We pass the Red Town Hall – the seat of the mayor of Berlin. On the left side you can see buildings which are called Berlin old town and the church of St. Nicholas (Nikolaikirche). In the distance you can see also Alexander Platz with famous TV tower.
We continue in the direction of Potsdamer Platz. We pass Checkpoint Charlie. Later, the building of the Ministry of Finance (formerly aviation) designed by the court architect of Hitler. Next is the building of the Bundesrat, and in front of the newest Mall of Berlin. After passing the Potsdamer Platz we enter the district of Moabit. We pass the famous prison and follow along the river Spree. Once they were here detained political prisoners, also Polish, e.g. from the time of the Wielkopolska Uprising.
We turn intoTurn Straße. In this way, we get to the building Classic Remise that is the place where you can see dozens of old and new luxury cars, boats, etc. Once I was here tram hall. This is the second such site in Germany outside of Dusseldorf. Some cars are priced at 600,000 euros and are by no means the most expensive models. It is scary to think what would happen if someone broke in here. I’m really impressed that Berliners have provided a place for tourists and in addition free of charge. I think that a walk through the museum-like place makes the heart beat faster, not only automotive fans.
I’m really impressed that Berliners have provided a place for tourists and in addition free of charge. I think that a walk through the museum-like place makes the heart beat faster, not only automotive fans.
Near the Arminius Straße is (Die Arminius Markthalle), where we go for a lunch. It is one of the survivors commercial halls converted into a cultural center housed restaurants and shops in the industrial style. During the week eat here employees of the Ministry of Interior, the town hall and the presidential palace.
In price of 14 € / person we can sit at a table in the restaurant Hofladen, where there will be big plates of meat, fish, homemade potato chips, pizza, salad, homemade sauces plus one drink per head (a choice of wine, beer, Fanta, Sprite etc.). The food was not only tasty, but the amount does not overeating. In addition, we accounted for a seat at the so-called. “Mother of all tables” (Die Mutter aller Tische) that is the longest table in Berlin.
On the way we pass the famous Berlin Zoo station, the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church and the oldest shopping mall KaDeWe. On the border between Kreuzberg and Schonenberg right and left were houses of pleasure. Here the President Kennedy said famous words: “Ich bin Berliner”. Here also created numerous artists including David Bowie.
We head toward the Brandenburg Gate (Brandenburger Tor), which features, among others, cemetery of Russian soldiers and two tanks, which passed strikers on 17 June. Among the Berliners still under discussion is their removal.
Besides, Berlin has numerous places associated with the Poles, among others in place of the current Reichstag housed the Raczynski Palace with an art gallery. While another palace belonged to the Radziwiłł family.
We stop in the vicinity of the hotel Radisson Blu (Karl-Liebknecht-Strasse 3) opposite the cathedral in the area of Alexander Platz, which has an elevator inside a cylindrical aquarium Aqua Dom with a height of 25 meters. This giant water tank is home to 1.5 thousand tropical fish (56 species).
Transparent aquarium is located in the hotel lobby so to see the aquarium from the outside, the building can be accessed free of charge. But if we want to see it from the inside we have to buy a ticket in advance for the elevator. More profitable is to buy it together with a ticket to the aquarium Sea Life Centre in neighboring building, which should isn’t the most interesting, but the difference is suddenly 2 €. When buying online you will save up to 6 €.
Approaching evening and 18 hour, and this means that we move toward the center of Berlin to watch it illuminated. About 19 started lighting installations in the festival of lights Festival of Lights Berlin.
Two weeks earlier, there is a similar festival in Berlin leuchtet. The difference relates primarily objects that are illuminated. I think it’s very cool form of recognition Berlin. Different types of mappings make e.g. Brandenburg Gate and the Humboldt University unrecognizable. It is a very cool experience. But I must admit that I expected from the festival of lights in Berlin a little bit more. I’ve run here first of all to music. 23 Hour –- we get in the bus and we go home.
How do you like my city break and explore alternative Berlin? I hope that my text encouraged you to do a similar trip. I am waiting for your comments.
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