As heart of the Prussian kingdom, cultural centre of the Weimar Republic, headquarters of Hitler's Third Reich and a key frontline flashpoint in the Cold War, Berlin has long been a weather vane of European – and world – history.
World War II may have left the city devastated to such an extent that there was serious debate about leaving it in ruins, but in the following years the city did a remarkable job rebuilding. Reconstructions of its sixteenth-century core exist in the Nikolaiviertel, while nearby stand many rebuilt nineteenth-century buildings from the time when the city prospered as capital of the Second Reich. Little from the Third Reich has survived, and no one has cared to rebuild it, with the notable exception of the 1936 Olympic Stadium.
The rest of Berlin is the product of post-war rebuilding, when the city was divided – ideologically and physically – by the Berlin Wall. West Berlin became a capitalist showcase of subsidized experimental architecture – the Philharmonie and the Neue Nationalgalerie for example – while in the east vast projects such as the Karl-Marx-Allee apartment blocks and radical TV tower were hymns to socialism. On both sides the era also produced vast housing estates, soulless prefabricated dwellings that remain reality for thousands of Berliners.
During the Cold War, West Berlin's unorthodox character made it a magnet for bohemians who flocked here attracted by a military service loophole and huge West German subsidies that funded a cutting-edge arts scene. Non-Germans came too, lured to Germany by promises of work, and to Berlin by its tolerance. Turks, Greeks and Italians arrived in the 1960s making Berlin Germany's most cosmopolitan city – reflected in the excellent variety of cuisines on offer.
Since November 1989, when the Wall fell, there has been friction between those from the east and those from the west who quickly moved into the best parts of the eastern city. The German government brought a host of stimulating contemporary building projects when it moved back, but you don't have to go far to find shabby areas untouched by federal funding. As the mayor of Berlin, Klaus Wowereit, proudly proclaims, Berlin is "poor but sexy".
This is not a city where you can simply stroll and absorb the atmosphere; it has several main drags and no clear centre. Most visitors begin in the central and most historic Mitte district, along the city's premier boulevard, Unter den Linden, and at key sights such as the Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag. This is where the Berlin Wall once stood and where modern buildings have long since sprouted, but it's also the fringes of Berlin's nineteenth-century imperial showpiece quarter, and its attendant statemuseums. Mitte also boasts tthe Nikolaiviertel, and the old centre of East Berlin, with its windswept plazas around Alexanderplatz. Spandauer Vorstadt, the old Jewish quarter, is the best-preserved nineteenth-century neighbourhood in the centre. Southwest of Mitte, commercial City West straddles sedate Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf and Schöneberg. Further out, Charlottenburg features the Baroque Schloss Charlottenburg –Berlin's pocket Versailles –and the iconic 1930s Olympic Stadium. Schöneberg is Berlin's oldest gay village, while Kreuzberg and its happening former East Berlin neighbour, Friedrichshain are nonconformist districts good for nightlife. Also in the former East and just as hip is Prenzlauer Berg, whose cobbled streets preserve the atmosphere of prewar Berlin. Berlin's suburbs offer the former Stasi headquarters and prison in Lichtenberg, and the dense Grunewald forest.
Berlin is a city of history and energy, full of excitement and forever evolving. Perhaps the latter point is the most poignant. The old and new German capital is in a constant state of flux, always becoming something without having ever achieved a state of simply being. This phenomenon has accelerated since the fall of the Wall, and efforts are now concentrated on turning Berlin into a international metropolis. For the past few decades, Berlin has been undergoing major rebuilding and planning efforts, which are visible in the new cityscape around Potsdamer Platz and the eastern city center. But there is also a rebuilding process taking place less visibly - in the hearts and minds of Berliners.
The city is made up of 23 different districts, each with its own unique character. The following summary will help to give you an overview of this fascinating city and provide you with a guide to what you can do in each particular district and what you can expect to find there.
Let's begin in Mitte, Berlin's most central district which literally means the center. The site of the first settlement in the Middle Ages, Mitte contains some of the city's oldest buildings such as Marienkirche and Nikolaikirche in the Nikolaiviertel , as well as many of Berlin's grandest buildings, strung out like pearls along the magnificent boulevard Unter den Linden . Stretching from Museum Island (Museuminsel with the Alte Nationalgalerie and the Pergamon Museum ) past the imposing Berliner Dom and the lovely fountains and evergreens of the Lustgarten , past the splendid Crown Prince's Palace , Humboldt University and the State Opera House , the historic boulevard is crowned by the emblem of the old and new capital - the Brandenburg Gate .
Although it contains many of Berlin's architectural showpieces, Mitte is also an urban mishmash full of holes, imperfections and blemishes. The site of the former Royal Palace (pulled down in the 1950s) is now a rather open space, dominated by one of Berlin's ubiquitous construction sites. Along with the TV Tower on Alexanderplatz , the former East German parliament is one of the city center's few remaining symbols of the GDR era. Just a decade ago, Mitte was scattered with drab socialist high-rises. Many of these have now been replaced by capitalist temples of consumerism, such as the postmodern Volkswagen Showroom on Unter den Linden and the futuristic glass department store Galeries Lafayette on Friedrichstraße . Other buildings, such as Hotel Adlon on Pariser Platz , have been rebuilt in the classic style of the early 1900s.
A stone's throw north of the River Spree , the face of Mitte changes once again. This is the Mitte of bars, restaurants, cafes and clubs - the heart of Berlin's buzzing nightlife scene. It is also the district of alternative galleries and artistic experimentation. In the years after the fall of the Wall, a unique subculture sprang up in the area around Hackescher Markt and Oranienburger Strasse . Art collectives and squatters moved into the empty, run-down buildings and brought new, alternative impulses to the area, symbolized today by the Tacheles cultural center or the Acud theater. This spontaneous, makeshift charm is gradually disappearing, but that's another story.
Let's stay east of the former border, although nowadays it's almost impossible to see where the Wall used to be, due to the major construction work taking place on both sides. The district to the north-east of Mitte, Prenzlauer Berg, used to be the center of alternative culture and political resistance in the GDR. But it has since been flooded by wealthy West Germans, eager to settle in the charming turn-of-the-century houses around Kollwitzplatz . As in Mitte, alternative culture is now becoming more and more established (for example, in the Kulturbrauerei , which is now home to a multi-screen cinema complex). Prenzlauer Berg is no longer an insider tip, but still has some of Berlin's best bars, restaurants and clubs.
Friedrichshain, the district to the south of Prenzlauer Berg, has now taken over the mantle of the last outpost of indigenous, alternative Berlin culture. A bit run down in places, this was the last area to be cleared of squatters and is still the focal point for Berlin's left-wing anarchist scene. Architecturally speaking, Friedrichshain is an intriguing mixture of concrete socialist high-rises, monumental Stalin-era mammoths (along Karl-Marx-Allee ) and stylish, late-nineteenth century town houses. The area around Simon-Dach-Strasse is heaving with alternative bars, cafes and clubs and is a popular spot with students.
Crossing the River Spree on the Oberbaumbrücke , we reach the legendary Kreuzberg district. Situated next to the Wall in former West Berlin, Kreuzberg became infamous during the 1960s and 1970s as the center of West Germany's anarchist scene - a haven for squatters, hippies, punks and left-wing intellectuals. Although any remaining anarchists have long since fled to neighboring Friedrichshain, Kreuzberg is still the venue for violent demonstrations every 1st of May - inevitably accompanied by pitched battles with the police. A safer bet is to visit the annual Carnival of Cultures , Germany's biggest multicultural street festival, which takes place here every summer. Kreuzberg is home to many immigrants, including some 200,000 Turks. Some of this Oriental flair can be experienced in the area around Kottbusser Tor and Oranienstraße, which also has numerous alternative bars and cafes.
Heading up Friedrichstraße, past the ruins of Anhalter Bahnhof (an old train station) and the Martin Gropius Building, we leave Kreuzberg and enter the Tiergarten district at Potsdamer Platz . For many years a huge construction site, Potsdamer Platz is now complete. Boasting an enormous shopping center - the Arkaden - entertainment complexes such as the Cinemaxx and the Sony-Center , a casino and a musical theater venue, Potsdamer Platz is a magnet for tourists and locals alike.
The real highlight of the district, however, is the sublime Tiergarten park, a refuge for nature-lovers, joggers and sunbathers. Full of ponds, grottoes and dotted with sculptures, Tiergarten park is crowned in the middle by the golden Siegessäule victory monument. Until 2006, millions of young people descended on Tiergarten once a year, for the Love Parade , a hedonistic feast of music and dance for techno fans from all over the world. However, this highly popular institution had to be re-located to the Rhineland for organizational reasons.
The north side of the park is the nerve center of political power. Lined up one after the other are the newly-constructed ministries, the monumental Reichstag parliamentary building and the equally monumental Chancellor's Office, all in close range to the controversial Jewish Memorial consisting of numerous concrete blocks. Only the palatial Schloss Bellevue , seat of the German President, exudes some of the calm of the surrounding park.
Schöneberg, a scenic nineteenth century bourgeois quarter, is a popular place to go for an afternoon coffee, an evening cocktail or a bit of night-time partying. The cafes and bars around Winterfeldtplatz are always full, particularly after the market on Saturday afternoons. On the other hand, the streets around Nollendorfplatz and Motzstraße - home to Berlin's gay scene - are at their busiest (and most colorful) in the early morning hours.
It's high time to discover Berlin's second city center, the triangle between Ernst-Reuter-Platz , Wittenbergplatz and Adenauerplatz which makes up the center of western Berlin. Most of this area, which celebrated its heyday back in the Golden Twenties, lies in the Charlottenburg district. Its main artery is Kurfürstendamm , affectionately known by Berliners as "Ku'damm." This used to be one of Europe's finest and most elegant boulevards until it was reduced to rubble during the Second World War. It regained some of its flair in the seventies and eighties and is still a good place to see and be seen, but it seems to be losing out in the popularity stakes to Unter den Linden and Friedrichstraße in eastern Berlin, which now attract more attention and more investment.
The Memorial Church on Breitscheidplatz , however, is still brimming with camera-wielding tourists. Ku'damm's side-streets still bristle with theaters and hotels, such as the Kempinski , Savoy or Steigenberger - with boutiques, sushi bars and art galleries. The area around Savignyplatz is a great place to go for a bite to eat or for a late-night cocktail, while the food hall on the top floor of KaDeWe department store is a feast for the senses.
Charlottenburg's crowning glory is the magnificent Schloss Charlottenburg royal palace, featuring dozens of opulently decorated rooms and chambers, as well as the lush Royal Gardens , the perfect place for a relaxing Sunday afternoon stroll. Several world-class museums - the Egyptian Museum , Bröhan Museum and the Berggruen Collection - are located close to the palace. Further south, the Funkturm , a smaller copy of the Eiffel Tower, towers over the Exhibition Center and the International Congress Center , offering great views over western Berlin. Well, we've now covered the inner city, so what do the remaining districts have to offer?
The southwest of the city is the place where wealthy Berliners live. Largely spared during the War, there are hundreds of beautiful villas in Grunewald, part of the Wilmersdorf district and around Dahlem in Zehlendorf, which is also home to Berlin's Free University . The area around Lake Wannsee is a particularly popular spot with Berlin's high-society - perfect for mooring the yacht at the bottom of the garden!
Steglitz is friendly, green and clean and has two major attractions: the spectacular Botanical Gardens and some wonderful shopping facilities around Schlossstrasse .
Wedding and Neukölln
More down-to-earth are the working-class districts of Wedding in the north and Neukölln in the south, which is sometimes referred to as the Berlin Bronx. Although they both have a reputation of being ghettos for the poor, unemployed and other down-and-outs, they are not as bad as they are made out to be. In fact, they are lively places with an earthy proletarian flair, a place to meet real Berliners.
The eastern districts, on the other hand, can't escape from the shadow of Communist East Germany, even though much has changed here since the fall of the Wall. Most of the gray concrete towers in places like Lichtenberg, Weißensee, Treptow, Hohenschönhausen or Marzahn have been repainted in friendly pastel colors and now boast the largest entertainment complexes and the most modern shopping malls in the region. There's plenty to discover here, such as the world's second biggest Jewish Cemetery in Weißensee or the monumental Soviet War Memorial in Treptower Park.
Parks, Forests & Lakes
Berlin is a city full of green oases, like Volkspark Friedrichshain and Volkspark Humboldthain , Hasenheide and Jungfernheide , Rehberge and Britzer Gardens. Berlin's many rivers and canals - such as the beautiful Landwehrkanal are flanked on both sides by broad, leafy parks and meander through the city like ribbons of green and blue.
The icing on the cake is the wonderful variety of lakes and forests in the suburbs. Joggers and horseback-riders share places like the Grunewald Forest , Lake Schlachtensee , and the Krumme Lanke . Also very popular are Tegeler Forest , Tegeler See (Lake Tegeler) and the Müggelsee (Lake Müggel) with wild boar, foxes and deer. Indeed, you would hardly ever need to leave the city limits - if it weren't for even more idyllic lakes and forests in the surrounding region of Brandenburg.
Before the fall of the Wall, eating in Berlin was regarded as a minor sideline to the more important matter of drinking. Guests wanting to sample a typical Berlin dish could easily be dissuaded by the mere mention of such alleged delicacies as pig's ear with yellow peas. A liquid diet was definitely the safer option.
Fortunately, Berlin's gastronomic landscape has since changed beyond recognition. Gourmets are now spoiled for choice as more and more first class restaurants open their doors to the public. Great food can also be found in many cafes, which offer a selection of national and international dishes at reasonable prices. Budget travelers are well catered to by hundreds of Imbiss fast food restaurants - once the realm of the greasy sausage - but now brimming with Asian and Middle Eastern delights for just a few Euros.
Chic and up-market. The best restaurants and cafes in the western city center are found in the side-streets between Kurfürstendamm and Kantstrasse as well as in the area around leafy Savignyplatz .
Gourmets with a deep wallet should pay a visit to Ana e Bruno for exquisite Italian, while those on a normal budget could try the legendary pizzas at XXII Apostel . Otherwise head to Tai Ji for some great Chinese, to Le Canard for fantastic French or to Hitit for Turkish delights with an Oriental flair. Celebrity spotters will be in their element at Paris Bar , a French bistro better known for its well-heeled clientèle and late-night cocktails than for its food.
Fans of the traditional Berlin Currywurst sausage couldn't do any better than at the Imbiss stand at Amtsgerichtplatz in Kantstraße. The queues are always long, but it's well worth the wait! Good bets for a lazy Sunday brunch are Restaurant 31 and Pasticceria e Rosticceria Italiana . And, if you're looking for a bit of pre-Wall flair, pop into Zwiebelfisch , Diener or Dicke Wirtin - traditional Berlin pubs that haven't changed in years.
A popular hang-out for students and young Berliners. Friedrichshain is the last bastion of Berlin's alternative subculture and is the best district to explore if you're looking for hip bars, cool cafes and underground clubs. Most are centered around Simon-Dach-Straße , Boxhagener Platz and Schreinerstraße. But at the rate that new places are opening up, it won't be long before Friedrichshain loses its insider feel.
Check out the spacey Astro Bar , the cocktail lounge next door to Dachkammer , and finish off the evening in Tagung , a popular bar-cum-club intriguingly decorated with East German political memorabilia. If you can still handle breakfast after a long night on the town, Leander and Apotheke have a good selection at knock-down prices.
For conservative radicals. Once a haven for punks and anarchists, Kreuzberg has certainly evolved since the fall of the Wall. While you can still savor some of that old revolutionary flavor in a number of bars around Oranienstrasse and Wiener Strasse, southern Kreuzberg (around Bergmannstraße) is now dominated by chic cafes and exclusive restaurants.
Riehmers Hofgarten , Altes Zollhaus and Medici serve up some of the best "neue deutsche Küche" in town, while places like Austria and Jolesh are good bets for more traditional fare. Francophiles should head for Le Cochon Bourgeois , while lovers of Mediterranean cuisine should pay a visit to Sale e Tabacchi . Kreuzberg is also home to thousands of Turkish immigrants. So when in Rome... the Imbiss stand next to Schlesisches Tor U-Bahn station is widely reputed to have the best döner kebabs this side of Istanbul.
Many of Berlin's most scenic cafes are situated on the banks of the canal at Paul-Lincke-Ufer, the perfect place for a lazy Sunday afternoon brunch. Sit down, relax and watch the world go by from the gardens of Cafe am Ufer or Cafe Übersee , or wait until night falls and mingle with Kreuzberg's young generation in Ankerklause .
If you're looking for a taste of legendary hard-core Kreuzberg, check out the likes of Madonna or Intertank . Roses is a popular spot among the gay crowd. Slightly softer, but still very much in tune with Kreuzberg's character are Morena and Wiener Blut , both of which are highly recommended. If you're the more traditional type, pay a visit to Yorckschlösschen , a rustic pub with hearty local fare and live jazz on Sundays. And when it comes to tradition, there's nothing like Golgatha's beer garden on a warm summer evening.
The undisputed center of Berlin nightlife, packed with bars, cafes, restaurants and clubs. While tourists now outnumber locals in many of the establishments around Oranienburger Straße, at least you won't have to search for long until you find a place that you like. From the sleek Cafe Orange to the wacky Cafe Zapata in Stachelschweine Kabarett Theater , the Oranienburger Straße strip has something for everyone. But if you want to avoid the masses and fancy a bit of local flair, try Cafe Ici or Hackbarth's in nearby Auguststrasse. Alternatively, head for Mittendrin in Sophienstraße.
The area around Hackesche Höfe is equally busy. Popular lunchtime venues are Cafe Hackescher Hof and Yosoy tapas bar, evening favorites include the South American restaurant-bar Brazil , while night-owls flock to Cocktailbar Baal or Sage Club . Gourmets can savor the finest new international cuisine at Borchardt and Vau while fans of hearty German food will be in their element at Stäv , Volksgaststätte or Zur Letzten Instanz , said to be Berlin's oldest restaurant.
The fashionable, up-and-coming district. Particularly during the warm summer months, beautiful, tree-lined Kollwitzplatz acts as a magnet for tourists who descend in droves on the atmospheric cafes and restaurants that adorn the quaint nineteenth century square.
Locals, on the other hand, prefer to meet at cafes such Anita Wronski and Sowohl Als Auch , or at late-night bars like Luxus Bar . If you wish to drink in a smoke-free atmosphere, check out Cafe Mia . Prater is also a popular destination with a fantastic beer garden.
There's good food aplenty to be had in Prenzlauer Berg: check out the breakfast buffet at Li(bi)do or Schall & Rauch , the great antipasti at Il Pane e le Rose , the spicy curries at Mao Thai , the hearty Russian dishes and live folk music at Pasternak or the Kurdish specialties consumed on traditional floor cushions at Miro . For those looking for a quick snack: Zarskes Gaststätte.
Plenty to do here. Many of the cafes and bars near Winterfeldtplatz and Goltzstraße sprung up in the 1980s, when Schöneberg was the place to go out in West Berlin. Check out cult favorites such as Cafe M and Mutter ; try one of the superb cocktails at Green Door .
Schöneberg is also the focal point of Berlin's vibrant gay community, with countless gay bars and clubs located around Motzstrasse and Fuggerstrasse. Lenz die Bar is popular in the early evening, Tom's Bar , Hafen , Connection or Begine later on.
When it comes to eating in Schöneberg, you're spoiled for choice. Many Berliners come from far afield to breakfast in style at places such as Tomasa , April and Montevideo . Gourmets should head straight to Bamberger Reiter or Fischer's Restaurant for classic and modern German dishes and an enormous selection of wines. Otherwise, try Cheban for great Lebanese, Storch for traditional Alsace cuisine and Baharat or Habibi if you're in the mood for a quick falafel.
Pricey and not particularly exciting, the southern part of Tiergarten is a popular haunt for businessmen, politicians and visitors staying in the hotels around Lützowplatz. Hotel bars and restaurants naturally dominate the gastronomic scene, the highlight being Harry's New York Bar in the Grand Hotel Esplanade . Guests looking to venture out of the hotel in the evening could try the wonderful Mediterranean cuisine on offer at Am Karlsbad. Alternatively, wine and dine with Berlin's high-society in Paris-Moskau , a first class restaurant with a sumptuous summer terrace, and finish off the evening with a cocktail in the Bar am Lützowplatz , Berlin's high temple of drinking.
If you're here on a warm summer evening, take a stroll through the idyllic Tiergarten park to Cafe am Neuen See - one of Berlin's most attractive beer gardens - or to the popular Schleusen Krug on the Landwehrkanal. A real Berlin institution is Cafe Einstein , an exquisite coffee house with original 1920s flair - perfect for a relaxing brunch or an afternoon coffee break.
This area caters to a young and affluent crowd. The cafes and restaurants around Ludwigkirchplatz heave with students during weekends. See and be seen in places like Cafe Solo or Manzinis , head to Jimmy's Diner for dinner and finish off the evening with a cocktail in the earthy Berlin Bar . If you're just looking for somewhere to relax during the day, try the glorious Cafe im Literaturhaus , a peaceful oasis just a stone's throw from Ku'damm.
Most cities only have one center, but Berlin has two. Although East and West Berlin have successfully interwoven to form a more-or-less homogeneous city, city planners are still trying to cope with the "problem" of two centers.
For those in Berlin for the first time, a stroll down Unter den Linden , Berlin's most prestigious boulevard, is a must. Begin at the Brandenburg Gate , situated on Pariser Platz , which was once the border of East and West Berlin. Today Brandenburg Gate is a symbol of German reunification. This broad, tree-lined avenue contains many of Berlin's historic landmarks, including the Max Liebermann Haus. Near the Reichstag , home of the German government, and the Brandenburg Gate , lies a huge field of concrete blocks. The Holocaust Memorial , formally known as the Monument to the Murdered Jews in Europe, provides information about the Jews who were under the wrath of Nazi forces. For an in-depth look into 2000 years of Jewish history, pay a visit to the Jewish Museum . Also, nearby on niederkirchnerstraße is the Topographie des Terrors , which features an exhibition recounting the history of Nazi crimes. Restaurants are mostly located inside the hotels in this area, yet plenty of food stands provide visitors with refreshments and snacks, or for a hearty taste of southern German cuisine, head over to Weihenstephan by the Hackesche Höfe.
Friedrichstraße was the focal point of Berlin's thriving nightlife during the "Golden Twenties," but now has become filled with ritzy shopping malls like Galeries Lafayette . Behind the Friedrichstadt-Passagen is Gendarmenmarkt , one of Berlin's most beautiful squares, featuring the graceful Deutscher Dom and Französischer Dom . Visit the popular Haus am Checkpoint Charlie to learn about the history of the Cold War. In addition, nearby is the site of the Berliner Mauer (Berlin Wall), the former symbol of a divided Europe that endured four decades of uncompromising and unrelenting politics of the Cold War era. Beginning at the former border-crossing on Friedrichstraße , the Tränenpalast (Palace of Tears) conjures up memories of tearful goodbyes as Berlin's divided families bode farewell after an all-too-brief visit. Along Ebertstraße, red stripes on the road mark the route of the Wall that many would prefer to forget. To see the longest and most famous stretch of Wall, you'll need to take the S-Bahn to Ostbahnhof. This 1.3-kilometer (3/4 mile) long stretch of Wall was painted by artists from all over the world in 1990 and has now been turned into an open-air exhibition known as the East Side Gallery . As the afternoon heats up, amke sure to check out the charming Oststrand , a slice of Riviera beach imported to the banks of the Spree!
The beautiful Schlossbrücke, which spans the River Spree , brings you to Museumsinsel (Museum Island), the northern part of the island which several renowned museums occupy. The Altes Museum , Alte Nationalgalerie , Pergamon Museum and Bodemuseum make up one of Europe's most impressive art collections. After years of reconstruction, the Neues Museum will reopen in 2009 to the public. Next, walk back towards the main street through the lovely Lustgarten , the former royal gardens once used by the Nazis and East Germans for military marches, you can't miss the enormous Berliner Dom which rears up on your left. Built in 1905 and modeled on St. Peter's Cathedral in Rome, Berliner Dom was destroyed during the war and then painstakingly rebuilt over the ensuing decades. The former East German Parliement once occupied the site of the glorious 15th-century Berliner Schloß , as the royal palace that was deemed unworthy of restoration and was demolished by East German authorities in the 1950s, but now that too has been demolished. The only remnant of the original palace is the triumphal arch-portal, which has been incorporated into the State Council Building on the south side of Schlossplatz. After a long day of museum visits, any taste and budget for a meal can be satisfied by one of the restaurants at the nearby Hackescher Markt .
Nikolaiviertel & Alexanderplatz
Near the State Council Building you will reach the Nikolaiviertel , the historic birthplace of the city. Within this square you can tour around the Red City Hall , Alexanderplatz , an important railway station, and the famous Fernsehturm (TV Tower) . Tastefully revamped by East German authorities for Berlin's 750th anniversary celebrations in 1987, the centerpiece of this historic city quarter is the 13th-century Nikolai Church. Nearby you can also visit the Knoblauchhaus , an 18th century house turned museum.
Starting from Berlin's oldest underground station at Wittenberg Platz, head down Tauentzienstrasse, past the legendary KaDeWe department store until you reach Breitscheidplatz , dominated by the ruins of the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church . You might enjoy a visit to Berlin Zoo , situated behind the Memorial Church. Continue down Joachimstaler Straße and take a right onto Ku'damm , the smart shopping boulevard that runs through the heart of the western center. If you're feeling hungry, turn right into Knesebeckstraße and follow the road until you hit Savignyplatz . The Dicke Wirtin offers typical Berlin cuisine, and Bohemian-types will like Zwiebelfisch cafe.
Whether you travel by land or sea, you will experience the city's historical significance while you venture through the modern landscape of Berlin. Guided and boat tours offers insider information, or you can always pick up a tour book, hop on a bus and see for yourself.
Insiders Walking and Bike Tours Berlin ( +49 30 692 3149 / http://www.insidertour.com/tours.php/ ) Unwrapping History ( http://www.unwrapping-history.de/ ) Tour-the-East ( +49 30 4703 4747 / http://www.tour-the-east.com/ )
Berlin City Tour ( +49 30 68 30 26 41 / http://www.berlin-city-tour.de/ ) Berlin Sightseeing ( +49 30 79 74 56 00 / http://www.berlin-stadtrundfahrt-web.de/ ) Oldtimer Berlin ( + 49 30 21 90 21 88 / http://www.oldtimer-berlin.com/ ) BBS ( http://www.bbsberlin.de/sightseeing_english_berlin_hotel_incoming/index.htm/ )
A cheap alternative to an organized tour is a trip on the no. 100 bus departing from the bus station at Zoologischer Garten . The bus passes many famous sights along the way, including the Memorial Church on Ku'damm , the Victory Column and Bellevue Palace in the Tiergarten , the Reichstag and Brandenburg Gate , the State Opera on Unter den Linden and the TV Tower at Alexanderplatz . Buses run every ten minutes.
Reederei Winkler ( +49 30 349 95 95 / http://www.reedereiwinkler.de/ ) Berliner Seegler-Verband ( http://www.segeln-in-koepenick.de/ ) Berliner Wassertaxi ( +49 30 65 88 02 03 / http://www.berlinerwassertaxi.de/ )