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Insider’s Tips

Electricity

220 volts, 50 cycles. Wall outlets generally take plus with two round prongs

Currency : Euro

ATMs are common in Berlin, and more often than not are part of the Cirrus and Plus networks, meaning you can get cash easily.

Time

Berlin is one hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time

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Alexanderplatz

Alex’ to Berliners, a cattle market in the Middle Ages, a military parade square and an exercise ground for nearby barracks until the mid 19th century – Alexanderplatz is the square named to honour Alexander I, Tsar of Russia, on his visit to Berlin in 1805. It was here that Alfred Döblin took the pulse of the cosmopolitan metropolis portrayed in his 1929 novel ‘Berlin Alexanderplatz’ filmed by Fassbinder for a TV series as a portrait of the bustling city in the 1920s before the imminent Nazi takeover. Fast forward to more recent times, one million people congregated here, on 4 November 1989 to demonstrate against the GDR regime shortly before the fall of the Berlin Wall. This was the largest anti-government demonstration in its history.

The Brandenburg Gate

The Brandenburg Gate is one of Berlin’s most important monuments – a landmark and symbol all in one with over two hundred years of history. A former symbol of the divided city, it drew visitors who used to climb an observation platform in order to get a glimpse of the world behind the Iron Curtain, on the other side of the barren “death-strip” which separated east from west Berlin, geographically and politically. It was here that on June 12, 1987, Ronald Regan issued his stern command to his cold war adversary admonishing him with the words: “Mr. Gorbachov – tear down this wall!”. The speech delivered to West Berliners was also audible on the east side of the Gate and echoed President von Weizsacker’s words which translate as: “The German question is open as long as the Brandenburg Gate is closed.”

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East Side Gallery

The East Side Gallery is a 1.3 km-long painted stretch of the former Berlin Wall along the Mühlenstrasse in former East Berlin. It is the largest open-air gallery in the world with over one hundred original mural paintings. Galvanised by the extraordinary events which were changing the world, artists from all around the globe rushed to Berlin after the fall of the Wall, leaving a visual testimony of the joy and spirit of liberation which erupted at the time.

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Holocaust Memorial

Berlin’s Holocaust Memorial, located in Mitte on a stretch of the former “death strip”, where the Wall once stood near the Brandenburg Gate, is Berlin’s stunning monument to the Holocaust, dedicated to the Jewish victims of the Nazi genocide of World War II. Impressive in its awesome grey soberness, rather than sombreness, it includes an underground Ort der Information (Information Centre) located on the south-eastern side of the memorial grounds, accessible via two flights of stairs or a lift. The 800sqm Information Centre complements the abstraction of the memorial with personal documentation about individuals and families. This includes biographical details, recordings and information about memorial sites throughout Germany and Europe.

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Museumsinel

Berlin’s Museumsinsel (Museum Island) is a unique ensemble of five museums, including the Pergamon Museum – built a the small island in Berlin’s Spree River between 1824 and 1930. A cultural and architectural monument of great significance it was awarded UNESCO World Heritage Status in 1999. Berlin’s own Acropolis of the arts is considered unique because it illustrates the evolution of modern museum design over the course of the 20th century and its collections span six thousand years of human artistic endeavour.

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Potsdamer Platz

Berlin’s Potsdamer Platz is the most striking example of the urban renewal that turned Berlin into the ‘New Berlin’ in the 1990s although it is not, strictly-speaking, a square. The area today consists of the three developments known as Daimler City or the DaimlerChrysler Areal (1998), the Sony Centre (2000) and the Beisheim Centre (2004), which literally transformed the dormant wasteland where the Berlin Wall stood between east and west Berlin until 1989.

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Reichstag

Following German reunification on October 3, 1990 the Bundestag (German Federal Parliament) decided, one year later, to make the Reichstag the seat of Parliament in Berlin, the restored capital of reunited Germany. After a complete restoration of Paul Wallot’s original 1894 building by Paul Wallot, the Bundestag reconvened here in Sir Norman Foster’s spectacularly restored Reichstag building on April 19, 1999.

The Reichstag played centre stage to momentous events in German history. Amongst the most eventful moments were SPD (Social Democratic Party) member Philipp Scheidemann’s proclamation of the first German Republic in 1918, following the abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm II and the end of the monarchy. The fire of 1933 which Hitler blamed on the communists led to Hitler’s emergency powers. The end of World War II in May 1945 was immortalised by the iconic photograph by TASS photographer Yevgeny Khaldei – the image of the Red Army soldier heroically hoisting the hammer-and-sickle flag on the collapsing Reichstag parapet.

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Getting Around

Visitors can explore the one-of-a-kind atmosphere of the city from the inside, simply by walking through its lively streets and squares.

Public Transport

Berlin’s integrated public transport system (known as the BVG) is the best way to get about town. An interconnected three-zone system (ABC) which only requires one ticket, allows you to hop from bus to underground (U-Bahn) to surface rail (S-Bahn) and tram with one ticket.

By Rail

Berlin has an extensive network of underground lines (U-Bahn), urban railway lines (S-Bahn), buses and tramways (Tram), allowing you to reach every location and sight safely and conveniently.

By Tram

Trams are fast and convenient and small ferries will get you across Berlin’s lakes. Ticket process range from €1.20 for a short hop of three stops or stations to €6.00 for a day pass and €30.00 for a weekly pass.

By Taxi

Taxis are numerous and available at almost all times. Taxi stands can be found at all main stations and airports as well as outside KADEWE and hotels. Most Berlin taxi drivers speak English, but don’t take it for granted. Fares start at €2.50 and €1.53 per kilometre, but a Short Ride (Kurzstrecke) is €3 for up to a two kilometre drive if you hail the taxi from the street.