Berlin is a city rich in history and culture. With so much to see and do it’s almost impossible to know what to prioritise. For our first ever trip away together Edel and I spent three days in the beautiful German capital. Below is a quick synopsis of the major sites we visited and the ones I think you should prioritise also.
I should start by saying that we stayed in the Sheraton Berlin Grand Hotel Esplanade. This gorgeous hotel is located just a short walk from the Tiergarten, a large public park in the heart of Berlin. We started our day with a stroll through the beautiful Tiergarten up to Victory Column. The 67m tall column was originally erected in front of the Reichstag but was moved to its current location by the Nazi government. Climb the dizzying spiral staircase up to the viewing station where you’ll have a completely uninterrupted, 360-degree view of the park and city. Heading east through the park we then visited the Reichstag building.
The Reichstag is Berlin’s government building and claims significant importance in German history. In 1933 the building caught fire from unknown circumstances and it is at this point that the Nazi regime grew to power. After the war, a glass dome was built on top of the building within which is a viewing platform for visitors.
Heading back in towards the city from the Reichstag is the iconic Brandenburg Gate. The Gate was originally part of the Berlin Wall and is the last standing gateway between former East and West Berlin. The Quadriga sits on top of the gate, a bronze statue depicting a four-horse-drawn carriage driven by the winged goddess of peace. Just to the left of the gate is a very good tourist office and it’s here that we got most of our advice on places to go and see.
Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe
The plaza was built in 2004 as a memorial to the millions of Jews killed during the Holocaust. There is a total of 2,711 concrete slabs of varying size scattered across the plaza. It is a humbling reminder of the pain and suffering underwent by Jews during the War.
We started day two of our trip with a trip to the Christmas market at Potsdamer Platz. From here we headed on towards Gendarmenmarkt, a massive square sided on three sides by the Concert Hall, the French Cathedral and the German Cathedral. After a few mulled wines to warm the blood, we made our way over to Checkpoint Charlie.
Checkpoint Charlie is the most famous of three checkpoints built along the wall to allow allied forces safe travel between East and West Berlin. Embedded in the footpath leading up to the checkpoint is a brick trail replicating the path of the Berlin Wall.
The roads around Checkpoint Charlie are very busy, both with traffic and tourists so getting a decent photo can be tricky. Guards stand at the checkpoint and if you’re lucky you might be able to sneak in for a photograph.
Topography of Terrors Museum
The Topography of Terrors Museum is a completely free museum just two minutes walk from Checkpoint Charlie. It has all the information you’d need on the history of Berlin and the War. Part of the Berlin wall still stands today just outside the main entrance of the building.
On our final day of touring, we headed east out to Charlottenburg Palace. This magnificent palace is separated into two parts, the Old Palace and the New Wing. Admission is only 12 euro and comes with an excellent audio guide which brings you through each of the extravagant rooms. Each individual room of the palace is lavishly decorated with wooden panelling, golden ornaments and colourful frescoes.
Some of the highlights in the Old Palace include the Oak Gallery, the Oval room, a chapel and the Porcelain Chamber which houses over two thousand pieces of Chinese porcelain. In the New Wing are the White Hall and the Golden Gallery – a 42-meter long ballroom decorated with mirrors and ornaments.
The grounds and park area of the palace are just as impressive as the building itself. Make sure to spend your time walking around them and admire their beauty.
Berlin has so much to offer so it’s impossible to see it all in just three days. That being said, I am delighted with what we managed to see and do. We visited Berlin in late November when the Christmas markets were on. As a result, a lot of our time was spent wandering about them. You can read more about the Christmas Markets in Berlin here.
Despite its excellent bus and rail services, Berlin is very easy to navigate on foot. With the exception of Charlottenburg Palace, all of the sites we visited are within walking distance of each other.
Thanks for reading,