A city that was essentially destroyed by British bombs in WWII has rebuilt itself into an energetic, thoughtful and powerful city. Berlin is multifaceted in its presentation, as it is known for three major things; history, art and parties.
For anyone with any European knowledge, they are aware that the two world wars and the cold war brought a huge change to most of the world, but particularly Germany. Berlin was the centre of all this and from the great Prussian Kaisers to Nazi and then Soviet occupation, the city is filled with remnants of these modern historical events. Many men have had great visions for Berlin, and it is a great mixture of many plans that has been laid out today.
Germany as a nation has not been around for very long. Originally, the area was split into many kingdoms and the area of Berlin was the capital of Brandenburg. As the surrounding areas unified into what was then named ‘Prussia,’ the kingdom’s capital was in Berlin. This kingdom eventually grew into the German Empire and once again, the Kaiser (Emperor) was based in Berlin. Berlin’s face changed significantly during that time as churches, museums, libraries and universities were built with huge grandeur.
But everything changed…
WWI ended with German defeat which forced the Kaiser into hiding. This created a battle between the democratic side and the socialists. Eventually, a version of democracy began to form, however, that quickly went to pieces as the Nazi party took control and created a totalitarian dictatorship under Hitler. For a while, this meant the city developed while it was planned to be the capital of the world, but as WWII came to a close, the British stepped up their bombing strategy with very little concern for historical value or civilian life. Berlin was left as a shell of ruins.
Germany was split into French, British and American and Soviet sectors and ruled under militarism from that point. Berlin itself was shared amongst the 4 parties, with West Berlin being controlled by the allies, and the East being controlled by the Soviets. As anyone could imagine, this did not go particularly well…
Huge numbers of East Germans emigrated to the West, and many used West Berlin as a means to get there. It got to the point where up to 3000 people were coming to the west through Berlin per day. Rather than make life better for the East Germans, the soviets put up a wall all the way around West Berlin. To shorten the story, tensions continued to rise until the Soviets collapsed with the wall and a unified Germany was brought about again.
TL;DR Berlin has gone through some seriously confusing military history. If you are interested in this kind of thing, I highly recommend the Insider Walking Tours of Berlin. My tour guide was Jamie and he was absolutely brilliant and we got to see all Berlin could offer.
For those who know me, art is definitely not my prime point of conversation, so I will keep this short. A major existing ‘face’ of Berlin that has lasted through the centuries is Frederick the Great’s plan for Berlin to be a ‘centre for culture.’ Berlin is home to over 175 museums and exhibits, and the home to many modern short film theatres, modern art and interesting exhibitions. We went to the Modern art gallery, and while I was not really that keen, Bek loved it. I would say you have to be very into art to visit!
While this visit was not too heavy on going out, Berlin’s reputation for being a brilliant nightlife city is well founded. Just in the area near our hostel, I noted five clubs, and only two grocery stores if that gives an indication of supply and demand. There are a number of good pub crawls and nightlife tours tourists can do, but I would recommend chatting to the reception at your accommodation to get a safe and trustworthy indication of where to go!
This was my second time in Berlin, and looking at it again with a bit more experience I am able to say that this visit was far more fulfilling! I would definitely say Berlin needs to be done by everyone purely for its historical value, but even more so one can understand how much a city this big can change in history.
#jongmasjourney next visits Prague, so stay tuned! Subscribe on the left and share on any form of social media if you liked it!
As Grandma’s friend Laurie always says…
“Love all around”