The Brandenburg Gate is one of the most iconic sights in today’s vibrant Berlin. More than just Berlin’s only surviving historical city gate, this site came to symbolise Berlin’s Cold War division into East and West – and, since the fall of the Wall, a reunified Germany. Architecturally, the sandstone Brandenburg Gate also represents one of the earliest and most attractive examples of a neo-classical building in Germany.
Constructed between 1788 and 1791, the Brandenburg Gate was Berlin’s first Greek revival building. Designed by Carl Gotthard Langhans, architect to the Prussian court, it was inspired by the monumental gateway at the entrance to the Acropolis in Athens. The Brandenburg Gate is 26 metres high, 65.5 metres long and 11 metres deep, and supported by two rows of six Doric columns.
In 1793, the gate was crowned by the Quadriga statue, designed by Johann Gottfried Schadow. This statue also has its own story to tell. In 1806, when Napoleon’s army took Berlin, the French Emperor had the Quadriga transported to Paris as war booty and a sign of his victory. In 1814, after Napoleon’s forced abdication, the Quadriga was returned to Berlin where it once again adorned the Brandenburg Gate, facing towards the east and the city centre.
Discover the magic of the rococo at the beautiful Charlottenburg Palace – once a royal summer residence, today Berlin’s largest and most magnificent palace.
In the Neuer Flügel (New Wing), you can view the staterooms and the rococo ballroom known as the Goldene Galerie (Golden Gallery). The Silver Vault includes quite stunning tableware of gold, silver, glass and porcelain displayed on laid tables. Around 100 table services have survived intact, a vivid reminder of the magnificence of dining at court. The impressive display of the remaining pieces of the Prussian crown jewels, complete with the imperial insignias, as well as personal treasures, such as the elaborated designed, exquisite snuffboxes collected by Friedrich the Great, are also well worth seeing. The Porcelain Cabinet in the Old Palace offers a breathtaking collection of the finest blue-and-white porcelain decorating the entire room.
The Reichstag is an internationally recognisable symbol of democracy and the current home of the German parliament. Every year, thousands of guests visit the Reichstag - and with good reason: It is not often that you can enjoy such an amazing panorama while, just beneath your feet, the political decisions of tomorrow are being made. Both as an architectural wonder and a historical testimony, the Reichstag has an important role to play in Berlin.
There are several options to visit the Reichstag: join a guided tour; listen to a plenary session (in German of course) or climb up to the dome and the roof!
Soaring 368 metres into the sky, Berlin’s TV Tower is the city’s most visible landmark. But the tower on Alexanderplatz is not just literally a must-see sight, it is also the highest building in Europe open to the general public. And from the dizzying height of its viewing platform, you have spectacular 360-degree panoramic views out across the entire city – and beyond!
East Germany, though, has long been history. But the TV Tower is still drawing the crowds – and is ranked among the top sights in twenty-first century Germany. After German reunification, the TV Tower took on an entirely new significance. No longer just a symbol of East Germany, the TV Tower quickly became an integral element of Berlin’s new cityscape, and soon came to symbolise the city – both nationally and internationally.
Clear early morning skies – and not a cloud in sight? Then it’s time to hop out of bed and head for the TV Tower. For this popular tourist sight, the early riser really does skip the queues for the lift, especially on sunny days.
The government buildings in the heart of Berlin form a ribbon across the river Spree, symbolically connecting East and West. The parliamentary offices and the chancellery were not built until the wall came down and Berlin was chosen as the country’s seat of government. The buildings are exciting examples of contemporary architecture that no-one sightseeing in Berlin can afford to miss.
The original idea for the Band des Bundes was a gesture of reunification. In a dual piece of symbolism, the government buildings and the offices for democratically elected MPs are both a physical connection and a symbolic bridge between East and West.
The federal buildings are not just the centre of the town in geographical terms; since 2006, the striking concrete and glass buildings have been the first thing that visitors to Berlin see when they arrive at the city’s main station.
The magnificent dome of the Cathedral Church (Berliner Dom) is one of the main landmarks in Berlin’s cityscape – and marks the spot of the impressive basilica housing the city’s most important Protestant church. With its elaborate decorative and ornamental designs, the church interior is especially worth seeing.
Yet although the church is known as a cathedral, it actually has the status of a parish church – though not just any parish. This was the court church to the Hohenzollern dynasty, the rulers of Prussia and later the German Emperors. Today, as the High Parish and Cathedral Church, the church serves the Protestant community in Berlin and the surrounding areas. The congregation is not based on place of residence, but open through admission to all baptised Protestants in the region.
The Pergamonmuseum is nothing short of a wonder in itself. Its rooms are overflowing with some of the world’s most impressive, long buried, treasures. The museum encompasses the vast history of the Ancient East, with collections that can not be experienced elsewhere. The museum is named after the Pergamon Altar, a Hellenistic masterpiece of white stone architecture. The imposing structure invites you to walk the steps of 2000 years of history and behold its intricacies close-up. But don’t get lost in this wonder for too long, as there are many more under the museum’s roof. Artefacts have been gathered from Iran, Asia Minor, Egypt and the Caucasus, and these worlds have been recreated for you to explore within the Pergamonmuseum.