BERLIN, GERMANY VISITOR'S GUIDE
In 2013, I went to Berlin, Germany to study for a summer through NYU. Recently I found myself looking back through old pictures and reminiscing about all the places I went and the amazing friends I made. Below are my picks for what you should see and do if you are ever in the area. From impressive architecture to luxurious stores, Berlin has it all. I hope this guide helps you plan your next great adventure!
1) Bike Tour
The first thing you should do in Berlin is look up bike touring companies. Since the city is rich with history, it can be intimidating to tackle tourism by yourself. My summer program scheduled our class a biking tour through Berlin Fat Tire Bike Tours. Our ride was designed to uncover parts of the city’s dark, violent past. The guide walked us…or biked us… through history by narrating the events surrounding the Third Reich and Nazi Germany. We also visited powerful memorials and learned more about the influential people of the time. I highly recommend doing this because it is the perfect orientation for first-timers or veteran travelers to Berlin.
Here are some of the landmarks I saw when I was exploring the streets by myself or with the tour:
2) Ka De We
For you fashion fanatics, Ka De We (Kaufhaus des Westens) is a MONSTEROUS Thai owned department store in Berlin. If you translate the name, it means Department Store of the West in English. The store covers 600,000 square meters and has eight different floors (all of the floors are dedicated to a certain type of merchandise). Isn’t that crazy?! Everybody, even if you don’t like to shop, must see this store.
For the dancers and party-goers, the best club to go in Germany is Berghain! In a previous life, the club was a former power plant. You notice this right when you walk in! The enormous dimensions of the rooms and the 60 ft. ceilings, all encompass the dance floor. Up to 1,500 people can fit in the steel and concrete structure.
4) The Last Watchtower on Potsdamer Platz
If you go by Potsdamer Platz and Stresemannstrasse, you will find (but you have to look hard) the only public East German watchtower. During the fall of the Berlin Wall, there were 302 watchtowers. Today the East German tower is the last remaining style of its kind. Originally the tower stood between the Brandenburg Gate and Leipziger Platz. The structure served as a base for border guards to monitor the former "House of Ministries".
5) Berlin Wall
Speaking of the Wall…you should go see where it once stood! The famous wall was made to be a barrier that divided Berlin during 1961-1989. In these years, East and West Germany were completely cut off from each other. Several attempted to escape the hardships of East Germany by fleeing into the western side.
Most see buildings:
6) Reichstag, 7) Humboldt University and 8) Konzerthaus Berlin
The Reichstag, seat of the German Parliament, is the most famous landmark in Berlin.
Humboldt University was founded in 1810 by educational reformer Wilhelm von Humboldt. Humboldt University is one of Berlin's oldest schools. It was one of the eleven German universities to win the German Universities Excellence Initiative in 2012. The establishment itself has been linked to 29 Nobel Prize winners and is the most prestigious university in Europe!
Konzerthaus Beriln is a grand concert house nestled in the center of Mitte (a district of Berlin).
9) DZ Bank Building
A jaw-dropping, multipupose development that will have you taking several pictures! The DZ Bank building was formerly a bank but now the building serves as an office, conference and residential building. The masterpiece is located by the Brandenburg Gate (which is another must-see attraction).
10 ) BauHaus
The Bauhaus was founded as an art school in 1919 in the city of Weimar by German architect, Walter Gropius. The goal of the school was to radically reimagine the material world to reflect the unity of all the arts. The highly modernist school strove to teach its students how to understand art’s relationship to society and technology. Such a radical shift in “how we teach art” impacted Europe and the United States in major ways.
11) Concentration Camp: Sachsenhausen
During a class field trip, we went to a concentration camp called Sachsenhausen. The camp, built in 1936, was erected by thousands of prisoners who were kept there because of their differing political views. During the Third Reich, the camp was located near the administrative center for all of the concentration camps in Oranienburg. In the picture I took of the Sachsenhausen gates, there is a slogan that says Arbeit Macht Frei (German for “Work Makes [You] Free”).
Until Next Time,
"Your Life is happening now. So make it amazing!"