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Pariser Platz, Berlin

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The pristine flower-beds and gushing fountains which fill historic Pariser Platz lend a touch of rural elegance to the urban jungle. Once known as "the Emperor's reception room", Pariser Platz has been the first stop on visitors' itineries since the 18th century. Located at the end of Berlin's grandiose boulevard, Unter den Linden , wartime destruction left much of Pariser Platz flattened, with only the Brandenburg Gate left standing. Yet money has flooded into Berlin since reunification and the square is being slowly restored to its former splendour. Its original rectangular form has been retained, yet the buildings which now line it to the north and south are a curious mixture of deeply nostalgic and strikingly modern architecture. Hotel Adlon , for example, is an exact copy of the original building, while Frank O.Gehry's DG Bank and the Academy of Arts are eye-catching examples of contemporary design. Just two gaps remain to be filled, and when the American and French embassies are completed, Pariser Platz will be laid with cobble stones and shall once again be a worthy reception room for millions of visitors to the new German capital.