Our second full day in the German capital and again we awoke to beautiful blue skies and temps in the 20’s C. We left our hotel, the ‘Erlanger Hof’ and walked down Flughafenstrasse to meet our daughter for breakfast. There is a great choice of small independent cafes in this area and they are very friendly and reasonably priced. We then caught the U-Bahn (underground) to the city centre. Here things were so much different. Gone are the small, intimate shops to be replaced by huge ‘glitzy’ high-end brand named stores which can be found in cities the world over and a coffee is twice the price.
This is the district of Mitte. We headed toward the river and an area known as ‘Museum Island’ and crossed the Spree via the Friedrichsbruke. Despite their appearances the buildings are of no great age. The Berliner Dom was finished in 1905. This building although called the cathedral does not have a Bishop so is really a massive church. As we admired these fine sights something started to dawn on us, all the old stonework was riddled with countless thousand bullet holes. This was a very sobering moment when you realised how terrifying this area must have been in April 1945 as the Russian army advanced.
We continued our walk besides the river and headed toward the Reichstag, home of the German parliament. This building was completed in 1894 but was badly damaged during the war and left abandoned. It was only after re-unification in 1990 it was re-built. The large glass dome was added in 1999 and if you book in advance you can go inside.
One sight which can be seen from almost everywhere is the Television Tower or Fernsehturm. This is the highest structure in Germany at 368m (1207ft) and the third highest in Europe. What surprised me was that it was built in 1969 by the GDR as a symbol of communist power (good to know where their priorities lay!). Today part of the crystal is a revolving restaurant.
Having walked around the perimeter of the Reichstag and past haunting memorials to those who perished in darker times, we visited perhaps the most famous landmark in Berlin, the Brandenburg Gate. Having a history of tumultuous events it was the scene as the crowds gathered when the wall fell in November 1989 and is now the symbol of peace and unity. The statue on top is of the Roman Goddess Victoria (the Lemmings name) riding in a quadriga, a four horse chariot.
We had walked for many miles but had not finished. As the afternoon slipped by we took in Viktoriapark back in Kreuzberg. Climb up to the very top and you will find a monument dedicated to the Prussian liberation wars (1814) and splendid views across the city.
It was a lovely break and we look forward to returning sometime in the future.