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Dates of visit:
September 15 - 30, 2009

We rate this trip a:

Trip Highlights:
 Meeting Cousins
 Historic Berlin
 Karkonosze Forest
 Town of Kozuchow
 Town of Nowy Sol
 Town of Zielona Gora
 City of Wroclaw
 Wang Church
 Kowary Mine
 Klotzko Fortress
 Ladek Zdroj


[ Home ] [ Travel Page ] [ Trip ] [ Part 2 ] [ Part 3 ] [ Part 4 ] [ Part 5 ] [ Part 6 ]
Intro Page - Introduction to trip
Part 2 of trip - Meeting Family, Towns of Kozuchow, Nowy Sol, Zielona Gora
Part 3 of trip - Lower Silesia, Boleslawiec City, Karkonosze and Zamek Chojnik
Part 4 of trip - Szklarska Poreba, Vang Church, Hauptmann & Hofman Houses
Part 5 of trip - Kowary, Klodzko Fortress, Ladek-Zdrój, Bear Cave, Ksiaz Castle
Part 6 of trip - Wroclaw + Panorama, Zagan + Stalag Luft III, Military Museum

This trip started in Berlin where we (Edward and Laurentiu) spent a day and a half resting and exploring the city in the brief amount of time we were there. This page summarizes the points of interest we visited.

One Person's Reflection

January, 2010 ... Recently, we chanced upon an opinion piece that is worth reading. Entitled ... America Truly is the Greatest Country in the World. Don’t Let Freedom Slip Away. ... it is a personal recounting of Austria and Hitler prior to WW II. A must read if one is to understand the value of freedom and how any society is at risk when it submits to the siren song of politics.

Read ...
America Truly is the Greatest Country in the World (89 Kb)

Topography of Terror

Topography of TerrorThe historic site ... Between 1933 and 1945, the central institutions of Nazi persecution and terror were located on the grounds of the present-day Topography of Terror. Gestapo headquarters were set up at PrinzAlbrecht-StraRe 8, as was the Reich Security Main Office (Reichssicherheitshauptamt) in 1939, while the neighboring Hotel Prinz Albrecht housed the administrative leadership of the SS, and the Security Service (SD) of the SS moved into the Prinz-AlbrechtPalais at Wilhelmstrafle 102.

The actual government district of the National Socialist SS and police state thus arose in a small area. It was here that the genocide of the European Jews and the systematic persecution and murder of other sections of the population were planned. Here that the persecution of political opponents in Germany and occupied Europe was organized, and here that the "Special Units (Einsatzgruppen) of the Security Police and SD" sent reports of their mass murders in Poland and the Soviet Union. It was here, as well, that the Gestapo had its "house prison" for detainees, who were interrogated at Gestapo headquarters and sometimes subjected to brutal torture.

The buildings, which were in part destroyed and in part severely damaged in the final phase of the Second World War, were demolished so that nothing remained by 1956. The division of the city left the terrain on the periphery of West Berlin, and after 1961, it bordered the Berlin Wall. Its history was forgotten.

Topography of Terror Documentation Center ... Only towards the end of the 1970s was this historical site gradually rediscovered. On the city of Berlin's 750th anniversary celebrations in 1987, the grounds and the remains of the buildings were made accessible to the public and the documentary exhibition Topography of Terror. Gestapo, SS and Reich Security Main Office on the "Prinz-Albrecht-Terrain" opened in an exhibition pavilion. The construction of a documentation center based on the winning design of the 1993 architectural competition was given up in 2004.

The new exhibition and documentation building and the redesigned historical grounds are scheduled to open in May 2010. Until then, the exhibition will be shown in the open air.

Topography of Terror - Slide Show

The outdoor exhibition included hundreds of archival photographs devoted to this era in German history. We have incorporated a select number of these images for inclusion in a slide show for ease of viewing. To view this slide show, follow the link below.

Topography of Terror
"Slide Show" - Web Page
"Slide Show" - Flash Version
** Requires ADOBE Flash Player

Short History of Berlin

Berlin is in good shape - and that's despite, not because, of its 800-year long history.

Bear - Symbol of BerlinBack in 1300, the two neighboring trading towns of Berlin and Coelln joined forces centering in the district now called Mitte (meaning center). All but destroyed by the Thirty Years War, the young city soon invited in its first batch of immigrants to make up for the loss in population: French Protestants, persecuted in their home country and looking for religious freedom were a welcome addition to Berlin's workforce. Their influence can be seen today in the area around the Französischer Dom (French Cathedral) or in the Berlin dialect, speakers of which still call a sidewalk a trottoir.

It then fell on the Prussian Soldier King, Frederick William I, to develop the city. In 1709, he made Berlin the capital, and his son, Frederick the Great, strengthened Prussia's role as a major player in Europe. At this time, the Prussian court was a cradle of enlightenment, frequently visited by the philosopher Voltaire. The King's appreciation of the humanities paved the way for a new era of classicist architecture, and fantastic buildings such as the ornate Konzerthaus and the imposing Altes Museum were erected. Berlin's love affair with the arts is reflected in the fact that the city still boasts three opera houses - the Deutsche Oper, Staatsoper, and Komische Oper.

The Napoleonic occupation of Berlin in 1806 was met with fervent patriotism and produced a powerful liberal reform movement. However, the bourgeois revolution of 1848 was short-lived, and William I became emperor of the Second German Reich in 1871, with Berlin as its capital.

Bear - Symbol of BerlinBerlin boomed during the Founding Years at the end of the 19th century. Industrial giant Siemens built a modern underground system capable of transporting hundreds of thousands of people every day. Scientists such as Robert Koch led the world in research and development, while artists like Gerhard Hauptmann and Wassily Kandinsky paved new ground in the arts.

All this was cut short by the First World War. After the war, Berlin became the focus of the failed 1918/19 revolution and went on to become the capital of Germany's first fragile democracy, the Weimar Republic, in the 1920s. The city assumed the status of a glamorous arts and entertainment center, while at the same time being an industrial powerhouse. At the time, artists such as Brecht, Gropius and Feininger forged a legacy that left a lasting impression throughout Europe.

Berlin remained the capital of Germany during the Nazi era. Hitler even envisioned the city as "Germania," the capital of a global empire, and began to leave his megalomaniac mark on the architecture and the infrastructure of the city. Berliners suffered under Nazi rule, especially the persecuted left-wing movements and, of course, the large Jewish community. More than 60,000 Berlin Jews, nearly half of the city's Jewish population, died in the Holocaust. Thousands more fled the country. Jewish cultural life has only recently seen a revival (in the Scheuenviertel).

At the end of World War II, Berlin was reduced to little more than a pile of rubble, its population halved. The Potsdam Agreement divided the city into four sectors, each of which was ruled by one of the Allies - the USA, the USSR, Britain and France. All too soon Berlin became the focus and symbol of Cold War animosities (and the preferred location for spy movies). While the German Democratic Republic proclaimed East Berlin its capital, the three western sectors remained under Allied supervision until 1990. On both sides of the Wall — erected in 1961 to stop East Berliners from fleeing, Berlin continued to spearhead reform movements, such as the peace movement in the West and opposition to the one-party regime in the East. Thirty five years later, during his 1998 visit to Berlin, US President Clinton would make a point of echoing John F. Kennedy's famous words, "Ich bin ein Berliner" (Literally "I am a Berliner", though the way Kennedy expressed it can be interpreted as “I am a jelly donut”, a fact which Berliners unfailingly point out in a mocking tribute so in tune with the city's personality).

The fall of the Wall in 1989 wasn't entirely unexpected. Level-headed politicians on both sides of the Iron Curtain had been working towards a cautious reconciliation since the early 1970s, but few expected the Wall to fall overnight. An entire generation had grown up knowing Berlin only as a divided city.

Nowadays, Berlin is once again the capital of a democratic state, yet unification is very much a work in progress.

Source: Short History
More on Berlin: Berlin
History of Berlin: History
Exploring Berlin

Brandenburg GateBrandenburg Gate ... Berlin's most famous landmark, is over 200 years old. Until 1989 it symbolized the division of Berlin and Germany; today it is a national symbol of unity.

The structure is the only remaining city gate in Berlin. Carl Gotthard Langhans, modeled it after the Propylaeum in Athens in 1789-91, making it the first significant example of Berlin classicism. Johann Gottfried Schadow, who created the facade ornamentation, also designed the "Quadriga," the four-horsed chariot at the top. After the defeat of Napoleon, an iron cross designed by Friedrich Schinkel was added to the goddess of peace standing in the two-wheel chariot. The Brandenburg Gate was severely damaged in World War II and the Quadriga completely destroyed. In 1956 the structure was restored and in 1958 the Quadriga was recast from the original and again displayed.

When the Berlin Wall still stood, the Gate stood alone and isolated. Today it is once again integrated into the recently designed Pariser Platz. Next to the gate stand the House Liebermann and House Sommer. Josef Paul Kleihues designed them to resemble the buildings by Stüler that previously stood at the site before they were destroyed in the war.

On the north side of the plaza there are two other impressive buildings: the Dresdner Bank (Gerkan, Marg & Partner) and the French embassy (de Portzamparc). The south side was developed by the DG Bank (Gehry) and the Academy of Arts (Behnisch). The luxury Adlon Hotel, which has been rebuilt on its original site, is also a Berlin highlight.

The position of the Brandenburg Gate was "of its kind undisputedly the most beautiful in the whole world" and therefore he took the Propylaeum on the Acropolis in Athens "as the model", as Carl Gotthard Langhans wrote on his design which was implemented in 1789-91. The present emblem of the city was only one of a total of 18 city gates; the position and names of the other gates can often still be seen on a street map. But this gate was by far the most elaborate - most gates just consisted of two simple pillars. Construction work began in the year of the French Revolution, and it was the first building in Berlin's architectural history to be based on models from Greek antiquity - a trend which eventually led Berlin to be called "Athens on the Spree". The gate with its angled side wings (the guard houses) originally joined directly onto the city wall, but when the city wall was demolished in 1867-68, pedestrian passages were created in the side halls and column halls were built in front of the plain western front.

The gate has five openings which are eleven metres in depth and separated by walls, and their ends are covered by Doric columns. Above the Doric entabulature and the steps of the attic is the five metre high copper "Quadriga" with the goddess of victory, designed by Gottfried Schadow and cast in bronze by Emanuel Jury. The goddess Victoria is shown in reliefs as a bringer of peace, and a time of peace is portrayed as a time of cultural abundance. Originally, it was even suggested that the gate should be entitled "Peace Gate". The central figure in the reliefs of the openings through the gate is Heracles.

In its design, the gate reverses the significance of mediaeval city gates, in that it represents the openness and cultural generosity of the self-assured city of residence.

In 1807 the Quadriga was taken away to Paris by Napoleon, but in 1814 it was brought back in a triumphal procession. After the structure had thus become a symbol of victory in the liberation wars, Schinkel added an iron cross to the crown on the rod of the goddess of victory. After war damage, the gate was restored in the 1950s, and with the renovated Quadriga (which was again restored in 1990/91), the gate spent the years from 1961 to 1989 in no-man's-land close to the Wall to West Berlin.

The gate was originally integrated into the continuous complex of buildings around the rectangular Pariser Platz, but in and after the Second World War all of the other buildings disappeared apart from remains of the Academy of Arts. Since 1995, reconstruction of Pariser Platz in its historical dimensions has been in progress. The residential buildings which once joined the gate at the sides, i.e. the house of the painter Max Liebermann to the north and Haus Sommer to the south, have been rebuilt in simplified historical form (to designs by J.P. Kleihues).

ReichstagThe Reichstag ... building was constructed to house the first parliament of the German Empire. It was opened in 1894, and housed the Reichstag until 1933, when it was severely damaged in a fire supposedly set by Dutch communist Marinus van der Lubbe, who was later beheaded for the crime. That verdict has been a subject of controversy over the years. The National Siocialist German Workers Party used this event as casus belli to begin a purge of traitors in Berlin and to ban the Communist Party of Germany.

The building was made safe against the elements and partially refurbished in the 1960s, but no attempt at full restoration was made until after the reunification of Germany in 1990, when it underwent reconstruction. After its completion in 1999, it became the meeting place of the modern German parliament, the Bundestag.

The Reichstag as a parliament dates back to the Holy Roman Empire, it ceased to act as a true parliament in the years of the Nazi regime (1933-1945).

In today's usage, the German term Bundestag refers to the institution while the term Reichstag or Reichstags-gebäude (Reichstag building) refers to the building.

Federal ChancelleryBundeskanzleramt (Federal Chancellery) ... One site in the new Berlin that everyone should see is Germany's most powerful building, the Chancellery. After four years of construction, it was ready to be occupied on May 2, 2001. Located on the "meander of the Spree," the heart of the government district, the Chancellery is just a stone's throw away from the Brandenburg Gate and Reichstag.

This imposing building of exposed concrete, with its unconventionally designed 36-meter high main facade, emanates the federal government's new self-confidence. The transparent front of the court of honor resembles an expressionist stage set.

The new building cost 465 million marks to build. The design provides passers-by with a view into the "Chancellor cube." The cabinet room is situated on the sixth floor of the central block; the office of the Chancellor is on the seventh. The top level is reserved for the Chancellor's living quarters.

The long side wings contain 310 offices for the staff and a bridge leads to the Chancellor's Park on the west bank of the Spree. Sometimes we are reminded of Washington, Brasilia, or Canberra, cities that were built as capitals of their countries on green fields. In Berlin, too, a completely new parliament and government building is currently arising which has little in common with earlier buildings. The master plan by the Berlin architects Axel Schultes and Charlotte Frank is generally regarded as a stroke of genius. No other proposal envisaged such a radical restructuring of the meander of the Spree where the earlier buildings of the "Alsenviertel" were destroyed in the war, apart from the Swiss embassy. With the ribbon of government buildings, the Tiergarten has again an accentuated northern edge where it once just "frayed." In addition, it is symbolic that the Chancellery, as the centre of government, does not compete architecturally with the seat of parliament, but is integrated into the ribbon of government buildings.

The Federal Chancellery, the design for which was praised for its buoyancy and playfulness, appears from its sheer size quite massive. Between and above the two five-storey administrative wings rises the 36 meter high, eight-storey "main building" containing the offices of the Chancellor and his ministers of state, the cabinet room and conference rooms.

Berlin HauptbahnhofBerlin Hauptbahnhof station ... Berlin's gleaming new focal point is the massive Hauptbahnhof main station, located just north of the Reichstag and government buildings.

After an 8-year construction period (and just 5 years behind schedule), the station recently opened, permitting the main east-west rail corridor to cross the north-south route, in a new tunnel, and giving Berlin a central station for the first time.

The numbers concerning the building and related transport connections are amazing: it cost some 4 billion euros ($6 billion USD) to complete the project; the station is 16 meters high, 60 meters wide and 400 meters long and has nearly the same volume as New York's Empire State building; and 11,800 glass panes weighing 100kg (220 pounds) each form the platform roof, a total of 1.2 million kilos (2.65 million pounds) of glass.

The main east-west S-Bahn track was rerouted through the semi-complete station in 2002, after which the adjacent old S-Bahn station was demolished. As the budget and money were tight, some concessions were made during construction, much to the ire of the architect: the glass platform roof was made 100m shorter than planned (so that the front and rear of ICE trains will still get rained on), and the underground area was given a fixed roof rather than the planned 'cathedral ceiling' that would have reflected light down onto the lower platforms.

Another problem that locals point out is that the station is not really near to anything - it is built in a wasteland close to the former Wall, not within walking distance of either the traditional centre of Mitte or western Berlin.

Schloß BellevueSchloß Bellevue ... The immaculately looking white neoclassical palace on the Spreeweg, just off the Tiergarten's northwestern corner is the official residence of the German President - Bundespraesident. Horst Köhler, Germany's current ninth post-war president was elected on May 24, 2004.

The palace was erected in 1786 as a private residence for Friedrich the Great's youngest brother Prince Ferdinand of Prussia, designed by architect Philipp Daniel Boumann, as three-winged palace ideally situated on the Tiergarten hunting grounds. Over the centuries, it became a school under Kaiser Wilhelm II (1888 - 1918) - the last German Kaiser - and a Reich guesthouse in 1939. The round arched windows of the side wings were converted from the original side entrances. The present building is the 1959 reconstructed version and only one room the Oval Saal (Oval Office) from Carl Gotthard Langhans is original.

The President's offices are located in the new building, the Bundespräsidialamt, south of the Palace, a contrasting glass and black granite edifice under heavy guard.

Zoologischer GartenZoologischer Garten ... affectionately known as the Zoo on the south-west corner of the Tiergarten, this is Berlin's favourite family spot - a wonderfully kept urban Zoo with a huge playground, restaurants, and coffee shops, providing a whole day's worth of family entertainment. A site Berliners are justly proud of, this large and very well kept Zoo is home to 13,700 animals and 1,400 species. The Berlin Zoo and its animals are part of local life and most Berliners will be aware of the news of a new arrival.

Rare among city zoos, the Zoologischer Garten was founded in 1844 on the initiative of zoologists Alexander von Humboldt and Martin Lichtenstein and was the first Zoo to be built in Germany. Under Friedrich Wilhelm IV, it became a joint project by Martin Lichtenstein and Peter Joseph Lennè who had redesigned the Tiergarten and allocated the southwestern tip of the Tiergarten as a zoological garden. Prior to this, a Pheasantry had served the royal kitchen from 1742. The royal family's private zoo had been on the Pfaueninsel (Pheasant Island) where pheasants can still be seen strutting around.

Numerous architects worked on the design of the urban habitats for the specific animal. The Antelope House dates back to 1872 and the Elephant House to 1873. The Hippopotamus House (1997) is an example of more modern concepts applied for the well-being of the animals. Under a 13,000 square feet glass solar panel roof the hippopotamuses can be viewed beneath the water and the animals are no longer simply on display. There are two impressive main entrances - the Lion Gate on Hardenbergplatz, and the Elephant Gate (left) next to the Aquarium on Olof Palme Platz.

The Zoo is visited regularly by 3 million animal enthusiasts - Berliners eagerly follow the development of newborns and recent stars have been the panda Bears and of course Knut, the baby polar bear who became a local legend and subject to a number of pop hit singles.

The Gedächtniskirche or Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial ChurchThe Gedächtniskirche or Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church ... The Gedächtniskirche or Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church is the symbolic centre of West Berlin, an anti- war memorial to peace and reconciliation. Following allied bombing during WWII, the original, west Tower has remained standing as a ruin and is hauntingly named the "hollow tooth" as it is literally an empty husk. Immediately recognizable and located on the Breitscheidplatz, this is the only building on the square which was spared by the bombing and deliberately preserved as a part ruin.

Built between 1891-95 in memory of Kaiser Wilhelm I, the first German Emperor (1861-1888), by Franz Schwechten in neo-Romanesque style, it was damaged on December 23, 1943 and subsequently almost completely destroyed during the April 1945 air-raids.

The Church remained heavily damaged until 1956 when the new building was built following Egon Einermann's winning project for an adjacent modern church including an octagonal hall and a bell tower. This was erected between 1957 and 1963 and the nave had to be removed. The modern tower, which is not to everyone's liking, consists of an octagonal structure and a six-sided bell tower. Its peculiarity is blue shimmering light, was achieved by leaving an inner cavity of 2m between the inner and outer walls with lamps that give-off a blue hue to the inside and outside of the structure. Over 20,000 panels of stained glass make up the walls of the modern Church, consecrated on May 25, 1962 the same day as the new Coventry Cathedral in the UK, also a victim of WWII bombs.

Checkpoint CharlieCheckpoint Charlie ... along with Glienicker Brücke (Glienicker Bridge) was the best-known border crossing of Cold War days.

The sign, which became a symbol of the division of Cold War Berlin and read like a dire warning to those about to venture beyond the Wall - YOU ARE NOW LEAVING THE AMERICAN SECTOR - in English, Russian, French, and German - stood here.

It is today an iconic marker of territorial boundary and political division. Until the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989, it signified the border between West and East, Capitalism and Communism, freedom and confinement.

The spot remains a must-see sight in Berlin with huge historical and emotional resonance, even accounting for the fact that there is remarkably little left to recall the atmosphere of pre-1989 days. An enormous amount of debating went into deciding what should be left here and preserved for Berliners and visitors to see in the future.

Historically, the site is important because from 1961 to 1990 it functioned as the main entry and departing point for diplomats, journalists and non-German visitors who used to be allowed to enter East Berlin on a one day visa after exchanging their Deutsch Marks on a one-to-one basis for East German currency. More dramatically, US and Soviet tanks had a close encounter here in October 1961 when J.F. Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev's tanks faced each other in an acrimonious moment feared around the World as a possible lead up to World War III.

The wooden barrack where visitors to the Russian Sector (East Berlin) were once obliged to pass through for vetting was removed. Reconstruction has included a US Army guardhouse and a copy of the original border sign. The original white booth, which served as the official gateway between East and West, can be seen in the Allierten Museum in Berlin-Dahlem. Cobblestones mark the exact spot of the former border and the poignant photograph by Frank Thiel of an American and Soviet soldier can be seen here. Memorabilia includes the nearby Café Adler (eagle), a hotspot for journalists and spies in the past where informers met their counterparts.

The Museum, known as Haus am Checkpoint Charlie, contains the best documentation available on the many escape attempts from East to West. The original Checkpoint sign is exhibited there.

Ironically, the New Berlin has turned this area into an entry, rather than departure point, to a new kind of American sector. Today's Friedrichstraße, with its Manhattan style office district, its new buildings by international architects such as Philip Johnson, who created the American Business Center, is the fruit of the millions in corporate investment which rebuilt this central part of East Berlin in the 1990s.

GendarmenmarktGendarmenmarkt ... arguably Berlin's most magnificent square. It is best known for the architectural duo composed of the German Deutscher Dom Cathedral (center) and Schinkel's Konzerthaus (concert hall, bottom) which together form one of the most stunning ensembles in Berlin.

The 'dom' refers to the domed tower structure erected in 1785; was mainly intended to add stature and grandeur to the building. The square dates back to 1700, part of King Friedrick I's plan for Friedrickstadt, an emerging new quarter of Berlin, where the recently expelled French Protestants or Huguenots had settled following the Edict of Potsdam in 1685 which granted them asylum in the Prussian capital. The name is in fact of French origin as "Gens d 'arms" which was a Prussian regiment consisting of Huguenots soldiers.

Alexanderplatz AreaAlexanderplatz Area ... 'Alex' to Berliners, a cattle market in the Middle Ages, a military parade square and an exercise ground for nearby barracks until the mid 19th century - Alexanderplatz is the square named to honor Alexander I, Tsar of Russia, on his visit to Berlin in 1805. It was here that Alfred Döblin took the pulse of the cosmopolitan metropolis portrayed in his 1929 novel 'Berlin Alexanderplatz' filmed by Fassbinder for a TV series as a portrait of the bustling city in the 1920s before the imminent Nazi takeover. Fast forward to more recent times, one million people congregated here, on 4 November 1989 to demonstrate against the GDR regime shortly before the fall of the Berlin Wall. This was the largest anti-government demonstration in its history.

Layer upon layer of Berlin's urban history is located in Alexanderplatz, interweaving centuries of social, political, and architectural history and repeatedly the subject of public debate and urban design competitions.

The transformation of Alexanderplatz into a modern transit junction and shopping area came about during the second half of the 19th century with developments such as the construction of the S-Bahn, Berlin's surface rail network in 1882 and the underground railway from 1913. Devastated during the war, the square gradually developed into the pedestrian zone during the 1960s becoming a popular if rather amorphous urban area.

Alexanderplatz AreaAmongst the sights here are the 365 meter TV tower, Berlin´s highest construction topped by a globe (turned into a pink football during the 2006 World Cup Event) with a rotating viewing platform. It is common for large cities to have a broadcasting tower. That this technically modest structure is situated in the center of the city is a peculiarity of Berlin. The Television Tower on the west side of Alexanderplatz was originally 365 meters high and is the tallest structure in Berlin, conspicuously marking the center of the capital.

The idea for the massive structure came from the architects Henselmann and Streitparth. The old city quarter between the Berlin Town Hall and Alexanderplatz was in rubble after the war. The SED leadership wanted to build a modern, powerful downtown for the GDR capital at that time. Hence the "Telespargel" (TV-asparagus), built in 1965-69, also represented the political and economic power of the socialist republic. Visitors from all over the world enjoy the view and restaurant in the seven-story globe that stands 250 meters above ground, rotating around its own axis.

It is a strange idea to build a 365-meter high television tower in the middle of a city. It is so unusual that the tower in Berlin is even today the only television tower in such a central position in Europe, and perhaps in the whole world. The local people have not just become accustomed to it - it soon became the pride of the people of East Berlin, and it is now one of the undisputed major landmarks of the unified city. Hardly anyone in Berlin finds it out of place.

The idea of building such a television tower grew out of the need for a separate television broadcasting system for the eastern part of the city. Various projects outside the city had been rejected, and when even the tower block planned on the site of the demolished palace in the typical wedding-cake style of contemporary Moscow and Warsaw became obsolete, it was decided to implement this unusual project. It was carried out in 1965-69 by the collective of Günther Kollmann.

There is a legend that the height was prescribed by Walter Ulbricht so that every schoolchild could remember it: 365 meters, one for every day of the year. It was the second tallest tower in Europe, surpassed only by the television tower in Moscow.

The reinforced concrete shaft reaches up to a height of 250 meters, and above it is a red and white striped steel mast. In 1997, the top end was removed and replaced by a tip that is three meters higher.

The sphere on the tower covers seven stories, two of which are open to the public: the viewing floor is at a height of 203 meters and above it the Telecafé in which the outer ring with the tables revolves around its own axis once per hour. A few years ago, the rotation time was reduced to ½-hour to shorten the amount of time spent there by guests.

The exterior surface of the sphere consists of 140 stainless steel segments, and when the sun shines, a large cross appears as a reflection. When the SED communist party was in power, this was jokingly referred to as "God's revenge."

The Neptune Fountain (1886) that once stood in front of the City Palace is now on the garden grounds in front of the Town Hall just west of the tower.

Rotes RathausRotes Rathaus ... literally Red Town Hall, is the seat of the Berlin Senate - city government - as opposed to local, district government that is housed in the district Town Halls. Berlin is one of the 16 German Länder or States which make up the German Federal Republic.

Berlin, a city that tends to lean towards the left of the political spectrum, has been ruled from inside this building since 1869 - reunited Berlin from 1991. The name red actually refers to the building's red clinker bricks that make its façade instantly recognizable. The ruling Mayor's offices are located here and those of the Berlin Senators who make up the city ruling government or Senate. Klaus Wowereit, who became famous around the world for his outspoken outing in 2001 "I'm gay and that's OK," has been Berlin's unconventional ruling mayor since 1995.

The Rotes Rathaus served as the administration building for the East Berlin government in the 1950s after war damage restoration was completed, whereas Rathaus Schoneberg - famous for President Kennedy's memorable address to Berliners and his assertion of commitment to the city - "Ich bin ein Berliner" - seated the separate West Berlin government.

Berlin had a medieval town hall but a new town hall became a necessity in the 1850´s as the growing industrial city craved independence from the long rule of the Hohenzollern monarchs. The building was built between 1861 and 1869. It is huge, nearly (99m by 88 m) with four main wings and inner courtyards with intermediate wings in the interior.

Interesting features are the rows of arches and the four storeys linked by tall window frames. The building's fortress-like appearance was achieved by the overhanging balustrade linked to the projections in the corners. The 74-meter high tower rising above its main portal is its defining characteristic and a terracotta frieze from 1879 traces and illustrates the city's history until 1871 in 36 panels.

The Berliner DomThe Berliner Dom ... (Berlin Cathedral), completed in 1905, is Berlin's largest and most important Protestant church as well as the sepulcher of the Prussian Hohenzollern dynasty. This outstanding high-renaissance baroque monument has linked the Hohenzollerns to German Protestantism for centuries and undergone renewed phases of architectural renovation since the Middle Ages.

First built in 1465 as a parish church on the Spree River it was only finally completed in 1905 under the last German Kaiser -Wilhelm II. Damaged during the Second World War it remained closed during the GDR years and reopened after restoration in 1993.

The "old" Cathedral at the Lustgarten was initially constructed between 1747 and 1750 under Friedrich the Great (1740-1786) as a baroque church in accordance with Knobersdorff's plans by Johann Bourmann. From 1817 to 1822, Karl Friedrich Schinkel redesigned it but the Cathedral retained its stylistic similarity to the high-renaissance baroque architecture of St. Peter's Cathedral in Rome. Finally, official plans reconciling the different stages and stylistic developments were presented by Julius Rashdorff in 1885 to King Friedrich Wilhelm IV. When Wilhelm II ascended the throne in 1888 he authorized the demolition of the "old" Cathedral and the construction, began in 1893, of the much larger, imposing present Berliner Dom.

Heavily damaged during the war, closed until 1993, cycles of restoration have continued until 2006 including the unveiling of eight mosaics that decorate the Dome's ceiling. The outer Dome structure was rebuilt with a simplified cupola and spires between 1975 and 1982. During the many years of division, the original parishioners - over 12,000 in the 19th century - were divided into two separate parishes. It was only in 1980 that the parishioners were able to celebrate Mass again and that Baptism and Funerals were carried out.

Known as the Hohenzollern family tomb, over ninety sarcophagi and tombs are on display including those of the Prussian Kings - Frederick I and Sophie Charlotte, by Andreas Schlüter, impressively cast in gold-plated tin and lead.

The Neue WacheThe Neue Wache ... or New Guardhouse is a memorial to the victims of war and tyranny. Kathe Köllwitz famous Pietà sculpture - Mother and her Dead Son - can be admired here.

It is located between the Deutsches Historisches Museum (German History Museum) or former Armoury and the Humboldt University. This was Karl Friedrich Schinkel's first important building commission in Berlin part of his classical architectural legacy to Berlin. Erected in 1818 as a monument to the victims of the anti-Napoleonic wars it has been the reunited Federal Republic of Germany's main monument for the commemoration of the victims of war and tyranny since 1993.

It served as a monument in three distinctive phases of German history. Until 1918, it was a memorial to the Wars of Liberation. From 1931, under Reichspresident Paul von Hindenburg, the monument was converted into a memorial for the victims of the WWI by covering up an inner courtyard that only let through a slither of light. In the period following the end of WWII and the memorial's destruction the GDR leadership turned it into the monument for the victims of Fascism and militarism. An eternal flame was placed in a cube above the ashes of an unknown concentration camp prisoner and an unknown fallen soldier.

Today the underground room includes the remains of an unknown soldier, a resistance fighter and soil from battlefields and concentration camps.

Humboldt UniversityHumboldt University ... (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin) cannot be missed while strolling down Unter den Linden because of the throngs of young students who populate the immediate vicinity of the building. Berlin's oldest university, completed in 1766, is located in a former royal palace; its illustrious student body and professors once included the father of German idealism and the 'dialectic', philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, who transformed this into dialectical materialism, by turning Hegelian idealism on 'its head' as well as Albert Einstein, Max Planck and the Brothers Grimm.

In the main lobby a statue of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels with the memorable inscription that set them off on their quest for historical materialism, "philosophers have only interpreted the world; the point is to change it." The building which today houses the Humboldt University was the third to be erected as part of Friedrich the Great's (1740-1786) Forum Fidericianum project - originally as a palace for Prince Heinrich, his half brother. The Friedrich Wilhelm University was founded in 1810 at the instigation of enlightenment linguist and philosopher Wilhelm von Humboldt, brother of the similarly accomplished explorer and humanist Alexander von Humboldt.

The 20,000 books by so-called 'degenerates' were removed from the university's library and burned by the Nazis on May 10, 1933 on today's Bebelplatz. After 1946, as the GDR's communist regime of the SED (Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands) increasingly forced students to comply with communist ideology, the Free University of Berlin was founded in 1948 in the western sector in Berlin's leafy district of Dahlem. The university's ideologically conforming students did not take part in the East German civil rights movement and Heinrich Fink, the university's Director until 1990, was known to have Stasi affiliations.

The former palace's architectural highlights consist of a three-wing complex elongated in 1920 by Ludwig Hoffmann to produce a second courtyard, around the one facing the boulevard. The complex includes statues and a Corinthian column structure that recalls that of the Opera House on the opposite side of the boulevard Unter den Linden. The statues of Wilhelm and Alexander von Humboldt are immediately recognizable, towering above students and visitors alike at the main entrance.
Site Gallery - Berlin
General Views of Berlin
Berlin Berlin Berlin
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Berlin Berlin Berlin
Brandenburg Gate
Brandenburg Gate Brandenburg Gate Brandenburg Gate
Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church
Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church
Zoologischer Garten (Zoo)
Zoologischer Garten Zoologischer Garten Zoologischer Garten
Zoologischer Garten Zoologischer Garten Zoologischer Garten
Zoologischer Garten Zoologischer Garten Zoologischer Garten
Zoologischer Garten Zoologischer Garten Zoologischer Garten
Zoologischer Garten Zoologischer Garten Zoologischer Garten
Zoologischer Garten Zoologischer Garten Zoologischer Garten
Berliner Dom
Berliner Dom Berliner Dom Berliner Dom
Gendarmenmarkt Gendarmenmarkt Gendarmenmarkt
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