Did you know that Berlin has more than 180 museums, 420 galleries, three active opera houses and three UNESCO World Heritage Sites?
The city is a paradise for fans of arts, culture and history. Last year 16 million visitors explored its charms. Recently Virtuoso travel advisors attending the network’s Symposium event in Berlin had their choice of insider experiences in the historic city. Follow in their footsteps by visiting the sites below the next time you’re in Berlin.
Berlin for art, architecture and culture lovers
- The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Museum Island offers a wealth of history in five museums: the classical antiquities of the Old Museum, the New Museum with its famed prehistoric and ancient exhibits, the Old National Gallery and its European art of the 19th-century, The Bode Museum with its famed sculpture collection, and the Pergamon Museum, where visitors can view reconstructed historically significant buildings.
- As a global center of art and culture, Berlin has several hundred art galleries. One place to check out a few is a former Jewish girls school, originally opened in 1930, and now repurposed as a cultural center with galleries, restaurants and a museum honoring John F. Kennedy.
- The Boros Collection, a modern art museum, is housed in a 3,000-square-foot Nazi-era bunker that has also served as a tropical fruit storehouse and a hardcore techno nightclub.
- The Hackescher Markt is Berlin’s oldest and best-preserved neighborhood, and has become a tourist magnet. Known for its interlinked courtyards, remodeled historic buildings and cosmopolitan diversity, the area is now full of contemporary art galleries, designer boutiques, chic restaurants, coffee shops and bars.
- In the city’s historic Mitte district, the grand Gendarmenmarkt Square is home to three buildings of note: the early 18th-century French Cathedral and German Cathedral, and the Konzerthaus of 1821, a concert hall. The square is also home to one of Berlin’s most popular Christmas markets.
- View buildings created by world-renowned architects since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Frank Gehry’s DZ Bank building contains a mind-boggling floating boardroom. The Potsdamer Platz is home to the Sony Center, a glitzy steel and glass ensemble by Helmut Jahn, and Debis City, a former no-man’s-land redeveloped by Renzo Piano, Richard Rogers, Raphael Moneo and Isozaki. The new Embassy Quarter and government districts feature a mind-boggling variety of modern designs by international architects.
Berlin for history buffs
- Visit World War II landmarks: the German parliament building, the Reichstag; the location of Adolf Hitler’s bunker; a flak tower used by the Nazis to defend against Allied air raids; and the Memorial to the German Resistance in the building that once served as the headquarters of a group that conspired against Hitler.
- The Holocaust Memorial by the 18th-century Brandenburg Gate occupies almost five acres and is open day or night. Its 2,711 gray stone slabs vary in size and shape and are reminiscent of a cemetery. An underground museum bears the names of all known Jewish Holocaust victims.
- See reminders of the city’s former divided past in a Berlin Wall tour. Visit the site of Checkpoint Charlie, the former border crossing between East and West, and its museum. The Eastside gallery of paintings along a remnant of the Berlin Wall forms the longest open-air art exhibition in the world. The Berlin Wall Memorial along Bernauer Strasse – the street that divided East and West – tells the stories of people whose lives were disrupted by the Wall. Visitors can see a double wall with the “death strip” of no man’s land in between, and a watchtower that overlooked the death strip.
- Find out what went on inside an East German prison with a visit to Hohenschönhausen. The prison was where the East German security service, known as the Stasi, housed political opponents of the Communist regime.
Want to book tours of these experiences for an upcoming Berlin visit? Get in touch with your Virtuoso travel advisor, or find one at www.virtuoso.com.
What would be your top Berlin must-see sights?