The significance of Berlin in the 20th Century cannot be overstated. It was here that the rise of Nazi Germany took hold with the burning of the Reichstag. It was here that the impact of the rise of socialism was truly visible with the construction of the Berlin Wall. And it was here that the dissolution of the Soviet Union was most visible with the dismantling of that wall.
These are just some of the things to see in Berlin. From the 1940’s until the 1980’s, Berlin was divided into 4 quadrants, each occupied by four different countries: the United States, France, Great Britain and the Soviet Union. The part occupied by the USSR fell into decay, as much of East Germany around it also decayed under communist rule. During that time, Berlin was pretty much an island.
But after the reunification of Berlin – and Germany as a whole – Berlin has flourished. It has been reinstated as the capital of Germany, and it has been revitalized.
Perhaps the most famous landmark in Berlin is the Brandenburg Gate. It was first built in the 1790’s and served as the entranceway into the grounds of the city palace. Later, the Nazi’s used the gate as their symbol of power. When the Berlin Wall fell, the gate became a symbol of the reunification of the city.
“Tiergarten” means animal forest, and was the hunting reserve of the German rulers in the 18th and 19th centuries. Today it is a 500 acre park within the city of Berlin, with statues and memorials to Germany’s past rulers, statesmen and other famous figures such as the composer Richard Wagner and writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
The Berlin Wall Trail
The Berlin Wall Trail is actually about 100 miles long and encircles all of the western section of Berlin, encompassing what used to be the American, French and British Sectors. It is now a paved bicycle route. Undoubtedly the most famous point along the wall is the place known as Checkpoint Charlie, where people would cross from the American Sector into the Soviet Sector of Berlin.
The German Reichstag
The German parliament house, known as the Reichstag was originally built from 1884 to 1894. The main part of the building was destroyed by the fire in 1933 that Hitler used to gain control of the German government, and which resulted in the Holocaust and World War II. Restoration of the building did not actually start until the 1960’s. The glass dome was added to the building in 1999.
Getting to Berlin is relatively easy, with direct flights from Newark and Dulles, or connecting flights through Amsterdam, Heathrow or Frankfurt. Transit time is about 13 hours. Several escorted tour options are also available including several Christmas Market Tours.
Ready to Go?
Contact me to set up your trip to this historic city.