As I mentioned in my last post, I was in Berlin over Christmas!
I also discussed how I’m a big fan of Berlin’s art scene. So for my first trip there, I had expected to focus on that. But when I arrived, I found myself too immersed in the city’s history to think about anything else. It was a weird feeling to be walking the very streets where so many unbelievable things happened.
The first stop we made was Check Point Charlie, the most famous crossing point between East Berlin and West Berlin. Below, you can see the image of an American soldier on one side of the mast (a Russian soldier is on the reverse.)
Then we made our way down the road where we got to (what remains of) the Berlin Wall. As an American, I take my freedom for granted, so I struggled to wrap my head around what it would be like having a wall separating me from the other side of my city.
Right next to the wall is one of the most interesting museums I’ve ever been to, the Topography of Terror. The museum was built on the site of the SS and Gestapo headquarters, who played a key part in the Nazi regimes’ criminal acts (however, most of the original buildings were demolished during the war.) The museum lays out the progression of the Nazi’s power and how they gradually introduced their agenda of hate and repression. You could easily spend all day reading every piece of information. But by the end of it, you can’t help but feel mixed emotions–anger, disbelief, sadness and relief that it was stopped. I would highly recommend this museum to anyone who has a strong interest in history and especially WWII, like I do. Below is a picture of the museum grounds (as you can see, mostly bare.)
But what is obvious when you are in Berlin is how it is a city still re-inventing itself. The buildings are very modern and a lot still seems to be under construction. Everywhere I went, it seemed something was either being built or reconstructed.
In spite of the remodeling, reminders of the city’s history are still present…especially when you look closely. The below image is of Berliner Dom, a beautiful cathedral.
But as you get close to the building, you can see patches and bullet holes. I saw several buildings damaged from the war, which again reminds you of the city’s war-torn past.
Aside from the history, the other side of my trip was enjoying my family, my boyfriend, Christmas markets, the warmth of the German people and of course…the food! I think my favorite things were mulled apple cider and bratwurst. We had Christmas dinner at Zur Gerichtslaube, which looks very medieval on the inside and served hearty German food. For my appetizer, I had their specialty, deep-fried cheese pear. Highly recommend.
Being a history buff, the city’s story is what left the strongest impression on me and I’m glad I got the chance to see it with my own eyes.