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Schloss Charlottenburg
Palace of Charlottenburg
#About the Big Palace in Berlin

One of the most important Baroque buildings to survive in Berlin is also the biggest palace among 9 palaces in Berlin, the Palace of Charlottenburg (Schloss Charlottenburg). In its past Berlin was once the capital of the Prussian Empire. The palace is actually one of the most incredible remains of that time.

It was built between 1695 and 1699. Prince Frederick I gave the order to build it for his wife Sophie Charlotte. Following the death of the queen in 1705 the king decided to name the palace after her, Charlottenburg. In the following years it became the king’s summer housing.

In 1740, King Frederick II ascended the throne and lived in the palace for some time.

In 1952, a monument by Andreas Schlöter was placed here, with the prince riding his horse in the garden entrance to the palace.

Today visitors can view the permanent exhibit for Baroque furniture, ceramics, and other displays about the lifestyle of Prussia in the 17th and 18th centuries.

#The Palace’s History

The amazing palace was built between 1695-1699. Though the design was created by the court architect Johann Arnold Nering, the actual building was overlooked by Martin Grunberg after Nering’s death.

The palace has managed to maintain its ancient vibes, however throughout the years many architects have made changes to it.

Between the years 1702-1713 a Swedish architect Eusander von Gette added a building, a chapel and a greenhouse for oranges. In 1711 a statue was erected for the the goddess of fortune, Portuna, on the central roof.

In 1740, during Frederick II's stay in the palace, the royal architect Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff added the ‘new wing,’ continuing the main building from its eastern side.

In the year 1790 an addition was made to the "orange greenhouses" - the "Little Oranges," and in the years that followed a theater was also added, the Belvedere in the Palace Park, a Mausoleum and a Schinkel pavilion.

In World War II the palace was destroyed. Restoration and reconstruction of the rooms were based on photographs taken from before the war.

#About the Palace Gardens

In the 17th century, a long time before the outbreak of the war, Simone Gudu planned the palace gardens in the formal French style. He was greatly influenced by the French architect Andre La Notre. In 1788 the tea house was added to the garden. In 1810 the mausoleum was built for Queen Louise, and in 1825 the Neapolitan villa was built.

During the air raids of World War II, and during the Battle over Berlin, the palace gardens were almost completely burned.

The palace gardens were only partially reconstructed. Those who were restored remained in the formal French style, as they were in the 17th century, and the parts that were far from the palace were restored, but in English style. Today the palace gardens are used by the residents and the entrance to them is free.


Children enter the palace for free.

Entrance to the gardens is free to the general public.

A Closer Look:

Treptower Park
Treptower Park
#About the South Berlin’s Park

Treptower Park is located on the Spree River bank in the Treptower quarter, in the south Berlin area. It was planned and designed by Gustav Meyer, the head garden engineer of Berlin at the time. It was built in 1878 for the better of the local community, which in itself makes the park innovative and groundbreaking. Why? At the time there weren’t many parks that were open to the public. In Treptower Park there are also special areas dedicated for sport, for the public to enjoy. This is a complete revolution for the consideration of quality of life for the public.

Towards the end of the 19th century, in 1896, a fair was held in the park called the ‘Berlin Trade Fair,’ and in 1958 more than 25,000 rose plants were planted in the gardens, creating a beautiful rose garden with a fountain.

However Treptower Park is most famous because of the war memorial that was built there after victory over Hitler and his government. Foundations for the memorial were laid in 1946, right at the end of World War II. Following this the Soviets decided to build a Soviet memorial instead. A large and impressive monument was built, that was open on 1949 as a part of the park, the size of 100,000 square meters.

A Closer Look:

Gedenksttte Berliner Mauer
Berlin Wall Memorial
#About the Death Belt Around the Berlin Wall

In Bernauer Street in North Berlin, there is the official memorial site for the Berlin Wall (Gedenkstätte Berliner Mauer). Here you can see a section of the original Berlin Wall, along the length of the historic "death belt" section, the area where East German soldiers guarded, equipped with watchtowers and lighting equipment, shooting anyone trying to move towards to West Berlin side of freedom. From a nearby watchtower, you can watch the death belt. There is also a documentation center for the history of the wall and along the street are explanatory signs displayed in a kind of open museum, which deals with the Berlin Wall and the escapes from it, and displays with arrows the escape tunnels dug underneath.

#About the Wall that Divided Europe and the Whole World

The Berlin Wall was a very long fence, about 155 kilometers long, that served as a buffer between West Germany and East Germany in the period after the end of World War II. East Germany was a communist state, which was ruled after the war by the Soviet Union and did not allow its inhabitants free movement to Western Berlin and the rest of the free world.

From the famous wall that surrounded the city of Berlin and divided it, only a few fragments remain, which are evidence of the period in which it divided the two areas, the eastern and the western parts of the city.

Throughout Berlin you can follow the outline of the Berlin Wall with a brick track that runs across the city and marks the places where it once passed.

#About the History of the Construction of the Berlin Wall

It all began in August 1961, when the Russians, who then ruled East Germany and East Berlin, began to build a barrier between the part controlled by them and the one controlled by the West. Thus Berlin was divided into two parts: East Berlin and West Berlin.

Initially the Berlin Wall was only a fence, but soon the forces of East Germany began to replace it with a wall. Many watchtowers were erected along the wall and eight border crossings were set up, which did not allow the residents of East Germany to move to the west.

Thus the Berlin Wall was built, which was about 155 kilometers long. It divided the city between east and west and became the unofficial symbol of the Cold War. Its presence created a split among the city's residents and many tried to escape over the years. Most of these escape attempts ended with death.

In 1989, about 28 years after its establishment, the wall was toppled, and Germany was reunited into one state.

To this day, small sections of the wall remain, as evidence of the folly of its construction, and the route of the wall is marked all through Berlin, with metal plates posted throughout the city, with the German inscription "Berliner Mauer.”

#How was the Berlin Wall Taken Down?

The 1980's were marked by years of crisis among the Warsaw Pact countries, the Soviet-controlled states. It all began with the economic crisis itself. When the pact countries weakened they were opened freely, under the policy of its leader, Gorbachev, the Communist-inspired regimes in Eastern Europe collapsed. One of them was the communist regime of East Germany.

The toppling of the Berlin Wall on November 9th, 1989, about 28 years after its establishment, marked the fall of the Communist regime in East Germany and was the signal for the reunification of divided Germany. It was also one of the most significant symbols for the collapse of the Communist bloc, and the victory of the west in the so-called Cold War.

At the same time period, the German reunification, bringing about the fall of the wall caused considerable concern for the future. In particular, the world worried about a situation in which Germany might again become a superpower that would threaten the free world. In the meantime, Germany has become one of the leaders of the free and democratic world, and learned the lessons of the past all too well.

A Closer Look:

#The Historic Building with the Modern Glass Dome

If one is interested in understanding the revolutions that Germany has undergone in the past few hundreds years, there is no place like the Reichstag, the German parliament building. This building is very impressive, and was built during the 19th century. Since the German unification, the Reichstag building has resumed its role as the building for the unified German parliament. Inside sits the Bundestag, the German House of Representatives.

The burning of the original Reichstag building gave Hitler the excuse he needed to constitute anti-democratic laws, and begin his crazed path, that will lead to the death and destruction of all of Europe and millions of people.

The famous photo of Russian soldiers waving the Soviet flag on the roof of the destroyed Reichstag was the strongest symbol of the victory over the Nazi regime.

It is no surprise that with the unification of Germany in 1988, it was decided that Germany will resume their parliament at the Reichstag, but with a modern and new twist to the building. In a big renovation effort, a transparent glass dome was added on the roof, signaling the transparency of the new democratic German government. This glass dome enables a beautiful outlook upon the city of Berlin. The center of the dome has an area which tells the story of the history of the building, and many these opem areas are to the public viewing, where from the terrace it is possible to see a panoramic view of Berlin.

From here is it possible to see the wonderful gardens of Tiergarten Park, which is located nearby, and the modern Potsdam Square.

From the inside of the dome it is possible to observe the plenary hall, where German Parliament sits and makes decisions.

#About the Reichstag Fire

Until 1933, the Reichstag building was used as the seat of German Parliament. The fire that erupted in the building, less than one month after Hitler’s rise to power, is futured to change the history of Germany and the entire world.

The fire erupted in the Reichstag during the evening hours of February 27th, 1933. When the police received warning of the fire, the fire seemed as though it was spreading from several locations inside the building simultaneously, a sign that the building was purposely set on fire. A huge explosion ended up destroying the Plenary Hall of the German Parliament. Police members who arrived on the scene found a half-naked Dutch young man in the yard, who was very confused, named Marinus van der Lubbe.

This Marinus van der Lubbe was an unemployed communist, who arrived in Germany with the purpose of stopping the Nazi rise to power. The police claim that Mr. van der Lubbe admitted to starting the fire, with the intention of causing a riot against the Nazis. Later on, while being tortured, he denied that the fire was a part of a communist plan against the Nazis.

Regardless of his confession, Hermann Goering rushed to notify Hitler and the heads of state that the fire was a communist act. Hitler ordered to arrest the communist party leaders in Germany. The next day, Hitler hurried to declare a state of emergency and convinced President Paul von Hindenburg to sign the ‘Reichstag Fire Decree.’ Hitler claimed this was done in order to “protect the nation against dangerous violence from the Communists.”

This decree overruled seven articles in the laws of the Weimar Republic, and gave the government the ability to infringe on personal freedom, freedom of speech, freedom of press, and freedom for the right to privacy. The government was therefore allowed to conduct house searched as they wished, confiscate property, and even impose the death punishment on a long list of crimes.

Hitler hurried to ensure a list of 4,000 people to be taken into custody as part of the decree. Mostly communists, but some were also rival Nazi leaders, some social- democratic liberals, religious figures and of course, Jewish people. Even with their Parliamentary status, some German Parliament member were also arrested. In a note of sarcasm, they were all arrested for ‘defensive custody,’ as though to protect them…

And so the Reichstag fire was a monumental time for the Nazi regime in Germany and its reign of terror. Hitler hastened to use this event to get rid of his opponents, and to establish his anti-democratic government, while at the same time releasing himself from the laws placed by the Weimar Republic. This is how he begun what 6 years later would start the biggest and most horrifying war in the history of the world.

#The Reichstag Architecture

As a city that was almost all reconstructed after World War II, the style that combines the preservation of the old together with the new, characterizes modern Berlin. In this style the Reichstag was also remodeled.

When looking at the Reichstag building is seems as though nothing correlates between the building and the modern glass dome that was added to it. The combination between the classic building to the modern glass dome ensures that the building is without a doubt a spectacular thing to look at.

And truly, the dome belongs to a new era, a different time from when the facade of the building was built. It was added 100 years later, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, when the Reichstag was being restored and became the Parliament building for unified Germany.

Even after the remodeling, the original exterior of the building remains, which creates to a big contrast between the emerged dome and the building’s exterior. The original building was built on columns. The front exterior has arc like windows, lined by many statutes along the entire facade.


You must register for a visit to the Reichstag building.
Do this in advance, via the Reichstag building website (see link below).

Visiting the Reichstag building is free of charge.

Be sure to pay attention to opening days. The building is closed during German holidays.

A Closer Look:


Free in Berlin

Tiergarten Park
#About Berlin's Green Lung

Tiergarten Park is the largest and most central park of Berlin. In the center there is a lake, and also the Berlin Zoo, the largest zoo in Europe.
It lies south of the Spree River, and to the east is the Brandenburg Gate. You can find a few pleasant hours to spend and relax here. Between the lawns, the groves and the small lakes you can stroll and meet the statues of the greatest Germans throughout the ages.

The Tiergarten Park is probably Berlin's "sun terrace." During warm days, many Berliners and tourists love to come to the lawns. They spread a towel on the grass and sun tan.

On the western side of the park you can join the nudists, who tan here naked, without any clothes.

Cinema fans may be surprised to discover the Berlin Victory Column in the center of the park, also known as the Angels' Home from the film by German director Wim Wenders, "Angels in the Sky of Berlin."

A Closer Look:

Topographie des Terrors
Topography of Terror
#About the Topography Museum of Terror

You are standing at the Topography of Terror (Topographie des Terrors), to understand the significance, you first have to know what the Gestapo was. Gestapo is the abbreviation for the "Secret State Police" of Nazi Germany, and in fact was one of the central bodies for the enforcement of Nazi totalitarianism. This name aroused great fear among the citizens of Germany and to this day it symbolizes the entire Nazi regime.

The museum where you are now standing was built just above the Gestapo headquarter s that was destroyed in the war. Fair warning, the whole place and the exhibits will easily give you a shivers, when they display and show about the place where so many people were tortured and murdered.

In the museum you can see exhibits about the suppression and murder of the Nazi regime through pictures and texts in German and English. You can learn here about the actions of the Gestapo and SS soldiers during the war, the imprisonment and murder of opponents of the regime and the persecuted communities, and the transformation of Germany into a tough state that suppresses all civil resistance.

#Museum History

Between the years 1933 and 1945, the headquarters of the Gestapo and the SS lay here, but in 1945 it was almost completely destroyed by Allied bombings. The parts that were not destroyed in the bombings were destroyed immediately after the war ended.

In 1992, a special fund was started aimed at maintaining the site, architects from all over the world were invited to participate in the competition to establish a museum teaching about the terrible history that took place here, the Nazi extermination.

The competition was won by the Swiss architect Peter Zumatur, who for five years was unable to progress with the construction work. All the while the exhibit was displayed without a building, in the open air, until Zumatur’s patience ran out and the architect was fired.

In 2007 a plan by the Berlin architect Ursula Wilms was accepted for the current museum. The new plan integrated the detention rooms and the torture basements that remained, thus creating a tangible connection between the museum and the chilling landscape of the complex, which it documents.

Free admission.

A Closer Look:

Weissensee Lake
#About Berlin’s White Lake

In this authentic and charming working neighborhood, the Wiessensee neighborhood, one can see a variety of early 20th century houses characterized by low construction and classical Berlin architecture. The neighborhood is located in the Pankow quarter in northeastern Berlin, and because of its "older" character, not many young people live here.

The white lake of the neighborhood, Lake Weissensee, is actually a relic of the Ice Age. It is about 83 hectares large and is the deepest lake in Berlin, reaching up to 10 meters in depth. Anyone can go for a nice stroll in the park around the lake, on tracks that are 1.3 kilometers long. There is a fountain is in the center of the lake. Notice the animals living in the area: swans, ducks, Mandarin ducks and more.

The complex includes a boat rental station, a cafe standing here since the communist rule, and a small zoo. Near the eastern shore of the lake, stands the church of the village of Weissensee - the oldest building in the district.

Tourists love to reach the lake all year around, though summer in particular perfect for a warm and pleasant vacation, one can swim in the lake and sunbathe in the hot sun. On winter days, many will find interest in the ice skating rink located on the lake.

A closer look:


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