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Art, History and Culture in Berlin

Berlin, Germany
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Berlin is one of my favorite cities I have visited thus far. I was there for a week with my best friend who had been studying abroad there for a year, so I got to tour the city from a local's perspective. We saw all of the major attractions as well as some that are lesser known. The city of Berlin is brimming with history, art and culture. At every turn there is something to see and learn.
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Bars and nightlife

Madame Claude
Madame Claude
On Sunday nights at 9:00, musicians from all over come to this local bar to perform in front of a small crowd and show off their talent. The building itself was really cool because the ceiling was decorated with all kinds of upside down furniture as if it was an actual living space. There were tables, chairs, rugs, a disco ball, a pair of shoes and even a t.v.
The performances take place in a very small room with cobblestoned floors and concrete walls and is pitch black except for the dimly lit stage area. There is space for about 50 people to either stand or sit on upside down buckets placed in the middle of the floor. It is a very intimate experience and the performances when we were there were amazing!
Strandbar Mitte
Strandbar Mitte
This bar is located right along the river. My friends and I visited on a beautiful summer night. There was a large dance floor filled with dancing couples, great music, strings of colorful lights hanging above us, and a view of one of the beautiful buildings of museum island. You could also see the Berlin tower in the background. It was such an incredible atmosphere!

Points of interest

East Side Gallery
East Side Gallery
The East Side Gallery is the longest portion of the Berlin Wall that is still standing. Artists from around the world were invited to paint murals on the wall. It is a little over 1km long and has many amazing works of art all with different styles. It was really cool getting to walk from one end of the wall to the other admiring the murals. This is a must see if you are in Berlin.
Berlin Cathedral Church
Berlin Cathedral Church
The Berliner Dom is the largest cathedral in Berlin. During WWII it was practically destroyed due to air raids and wasn’t reconstructed until 1975. Now, it is a very popular tourist attraction and quite a stunning building.
When we were there in the summer we joined the many others who had gathered to sit on the surrounding lawn to relax and enjoy the warm summer day.
Tempelhofer Field
Tempelhofer Field
Tempelhofer Park is located on the outskirts of Berlin’s city center. It is like any other park, except for the fact that it is located on the runway of the abandoned Tempelhof Airport (closed in 2008). You can run, bike, play sports, or just relax and sit on the surrounding grass. One popular thing to do is kite-boarding. It’s like kite-surfing, but with a skateboard and concrete instead of water. With the long runways and ample supply of wind, its a perfect sport for an abandoned airfield. When we went it was during the 2012 summer Olympics and they had jumbo screens up for everyone to watch. It was super cool.
MauerPark flea market
MauerPark flea market
A famous flee market in Berlin is located at Mauerpark. When we visited it was packed with people from street performers, to tourists, to native Berliner’s and vendors. There were hundreds of stands offering all different types of goods: clothes, jewelry, music, pottery, food furniture… and of course a flee market wouldn’t be complete without some random ish as well. The park also has karaoke. Hundreds of people gather in a large amphitheater to watch people sing. Quite entertaining to say the least!
Museum Haus am Checkpoint Charlie
Museum Haus am Checkpoint Charlie
Checkpoint Charlie was a military controlled crossing point between East and West Berlin during the Cold War. During this time Germany was controlled by the Allied Forces as a result of WWII and Berlin was divided into 4 sectors, one for each of the main Allied powers (the U.S., Soviet Union, Great Britain, and France). The West side of Checkpoint Charlie was located within the American Sector and the East side was in the Soviet Union’s sector. This checkpoint was one of three separating East and West Germany. Foreigners were allowed to pass through all three checkpoints, but Allied officials were only allowed to cross at Checkpoint Charlie.
Alexanderplatz
Alexanderplatz
Berlin’s world time clock is located at Alexanderplatz. The clock was constructed in 1969 and is a very popular meeting place within the city. It consists of a revolving cylinder that contains the 24 time zones and the names of the major cities in each zone. Really cool piece of (functional) art.
Potsdamer Platz
Potsdamer Platz, a huge public square in the center of Berlin that offers entertainment, architecture, food and shopping, and is visited by up to 100,000 people a day. It stands in an area in which the Berlin Wall once bisected the East and West part of the city. Thus, when the plaza was redeveloped in the 1990′s after the wall fell it was symbolic of the reunification of Berlin as a whole.
Reichstag Building
Reichstag Building
The Reichstag building in where Germany’s parliament is housed and is equivalent to the Capitol Building in Washington D.C. It was really interesting to learn about the building’s history and how the German government works. After our tour we got to climb to the top of the Reichstag’s glass dome. We walked up the spiral staircase that wound along the inside of the dome and enjoyed a 360 degree view of Berlin. One cool thing about the dome is that the mirrored cone structure within reflects the sunlight into the parliamentary chamber below. By providing the room with natural light and thereby reducing the need for electricity, the dome is environmentally friendly!

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