Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Berlin sights - 5 May 2008

Reichstag Dome

Reichstag DomeThe guidebooks warn of long queues at the Reichstag, so we set off nice and early to get ourselves in place near the head of the queue. The wait was not too long and soon we were enjoying the walk up the double helix spiral ramp that takes visitors to the top of the new dome, designed by Norman Foster, for a panoramic view across Berlin.

Brandenburg GateLeaving the Reichstag we visited the Brandenburg Gate and the nearby Holocaust Memorial before strolling along Unter den Linten to Museum Island. From the end of Museum Island it is a short walk to the New Synagogue now with a restored dome

A guidebook told us that the 100 bus gave as good a tour of the Berlin sights as a tourist bus so we took the 200 bus to the zoo to catch the 100 bus and ride the route back to town. This afforded us a quick trip through Tiergarten and then back, through the centre, to Alexanderplatz.

East Side GalleryFrom there it was a two-stop train ride to the stop for the East Side Gallery. A 1300m long section of the Wall that is now covered, both sides, with graffiti, making it the longest canvas in the world.

Some of the original graffiti is quite good but unfortunately the graffiti has been graffitied and now the whole thing is quite tatty

Returning to Alexanderplatz we book a tram to the river to catch a 1-hour long boat cruise that gave quite a different perspective on the city and some of its striking new architecture.

New SynagogueWith the last of the beautiful afternoon still remaining we set off to find the Otto Weidt Museum. Here, in the actual building where Otto ran a brush factory employing blind and deaf Jews, is told the story of how he protected so many Jews from the Nazis for so long. The usual stories of betrayal by informers, lucky escapes, and tragic murders in the camps are related in the simple and bare rabbit warren of the old factory premises.

Then it was back to our neighbourhood riverside cafe for dinner - before heading for the airport.

Holocaust MemorialIt would be a very hardened tourist who could visit Berlin and not be moved by the reminders that exist in so many parts of the city: Checkpoint Charlie; random sections of the Wall; the line of the wall set into the roadways and footpaths; the Topography of Terrors; the Holocaust Memorial; the Jewish Museum; Otto’s factory and so on and although Berlin is a city that is clearly looking to the future, its past will always be present.

An interesting tale relates to the construction of the TV tower at Alexanderplatz. Intended as a symbol of Communist supremacy it remains the second tallest structure in Europe. The Chancellory BuildingAt a time when the atheistic leaders of the DDR were busy removing crosses from the domes and spires of churches in Eastern Germany, this tower (erected in 1969 with Swedish know-how) unintentionally became the tallest spire in the land. The tessellated surface of the sphere had the effect of creating a giant cross when the sun shone on it earning it the cynical title of The Pope’s Revenge.

1 comment:

jonathan werran said...

Hello Murray,
Guten morgen and thank you for your lively and informative report from your trip to Berlin. Having visited for a few days in New Year 2007 I am suitably impressed (read awed!) by how much you visited in spite of bus difficulties in so short a space of time - I'll have to go back again soon to pick up where you've left off - Murray uber alles! ;)