City description

“Berlin is poor but sexy,” claimed one of its former mayors, and the description has stuck to the German capital ever since. Although it might be starting to become slightly more gentrified, calling the claim into question somewhat, Berlin and its arty buzz is still one of the most seductive and vibrant cities in the Old Continent.

It’s definitely worth starting your journey through the German capital in its center, in Mitte. This neighbourhood is a condensed version of Berlin, and the perfect place to appreciate the spirit of the city in fast-forward. A clever mix of modernity and historic emblems, Mitte is packed with symbolic sites. Start at the Reichstag, crowned with a glass dome designed by Norman Foster. Not far away, the Philharmonie and its organic architecture are bound to grab your attention. Further on, you’ll find the impressive Brandenburg Gate, the proud symbol of the reunion of a country split in two for 40 years. Sections of the Berlin Wall, covered in graffiti, crop up throughout the city. In Mitte of course, but also in Pankow, Prenzlauer Berg, Köpenick and Lichtenberg to name but a few.

The DDR Museum tells the story of decades of struggles as experienced by the East, epitomised by the iconic postcards of the famous Trabant. Embrace the nostalgia! Still in Mitte, the famous “Checkpoint Charlie”, not far from the imposing Potsdamer Platz, a popular destination with Berlin’s 10 million annual visitors. Another must is a trip up to the top of the Television Tower, or Fernsehturm. With your feet back on the ground, the avenues of Soviet era buildings stretch out East from Alexanderplatz. Then there’s Museum Island, on the Spree, a real haven of peace, where arts in general, and antiques in particular, are celebrated.

Berlin is home to hundreds of museums. Artists from all four corners of the globe, attracted by its quality of life and creative spirit, have made their homes here, breathing a new spirit of freedom through the German capital. It is cosmopolitan in its DNA, demonstrated by Kreuzberg, a working-class Turkish neighbourhood and a melting pot of counterculture. Here, as in Prenzlauer Berg, colorful artists’ squats rub shoulders with trendy boutiques, restaurants serving vegan food or flavors from around the world, fashionable art galleries and chilled out bars. While the big shopping centers like the Mall of Berlin are home to the big international labels, it is in these districts that you’ll find more traditional, local pieces. Day and night, exuberant concepts are everywhere you look, adding spice to the lives of Berliners who come together for events like Berlin Fashion Week and the Cherry Blossom Festival to celebrate the creativity of the world’s citizens.

Bustling Berlin is also impressive for the feeling of space that you get here, with its wide avenues, spanned by the elevated railway. The wasteland that punctuates the urban landscape adds a welcome airiness to the city. Nature and concrete live side by side, both essential aspects of life in Berlin. Follow in the footsteps of the locals, enjoying a Sunday barbecue, a spontaneous party after work or an energetic run in the heart of the city, in Tiergarten, bigger than even Hyde Park...
These huge open spaces force the city to continue to reinvent itself. Large industrial buildings are given a second lease of life, like the Berghain, the iconic temple to the electro-clubbing scene. The party spirit of Berliners reflects the city itself: arty, open-minded and incredibly tolerant.
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