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About city What to see Gallery Where to stay

Berlin is considered to be one of the most important political and cultural centres in Europe. And even though there are as many as 117 settlements named Berlin in the world, everyone agrees that the most famous of those is the capital of Germany. It’s the second largest city in the EU after London.

What’s interesting is that Berlin is 9 times bigger than Paris. In term of size, it rivals even the most densely populated American city - New York.

Berlin is situated in the Eastern part of Germany, about 70 kilometres west of the Polish border, surrounded by the lands of the state of Brandenburg. It’s traversed by the rivers Spree and Havel, which was the reason for building around 1700 bridges in the city - even Venice doesn’t have as many. For this reason, tourists would be well advised to include a boat trip in their itinerary. Around 18 per cent of the city is covered with forests.

Historically, Berlin was the capital of Prussia, the German Empire and East Germany. Some even call it “Spree Athen” or Athens near the River Spree.

Until the 9th of November 1989, Berlin was split in two by a 160-kilometre-long concrete wall. For a long time it separated the Western world from the communist Soviet Union both physically and figuratively. The Berlin Wall became a symbol of the Cold War, and the building of the wall helped the German Democratic Republic stop its citizens from fleeing to the West. During its existence, 1245 people died trying to get to the other side. The wall was torn down when Mikhail Gorbachev began to liberalize the politics of the Soviet Union. Now, the remnants of the wall are historic exhibits, transformed into works of art by artists from all over the world.

The Berlin Wall
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  The Berlin Wall

Berlin is replete with theatres, orchestras, choirs, museums and other cultural objects. The most well-known of those are the Berliner Ensemble and Germany’s Symphony Orchestra. The city hosts many different events every year – from festivals dedicated to literature and jazz music to the annual Theatre Meeting. Berlin is also home to one of the most highly acclaimed European international film festivals.

Here you will also find the famous Wall Park, which actually has neither walls, nor park, but boasts a large flea market instead. Even though it’s open every day, most people come here at weekends. Mass karaoke performances are held here every Sunday, while the local homeless juggle laptops. It’s the perfect place to get something unusual and sweet.

People visit famous Alexander Square (Alexanderplatz) in Berlin
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  People visit famous Alexander Square (Alexanderplatz) in Berlin

Berlin is an important transportation node and one of the most visited cities in Europe, and it’s home to around half a million immigrants from over 185 different nations. The Turkish and Kurdish communities are the largest ones, each comprised of around 200 thousand people which makes it also the largest Turkish community outside of Turkey. Berlin is also home to around 180 thousand Poles.

Narrow street in the former east side of Berlin
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  Narrow street in the former east side of Berlin

It’s worth mentioning that in Berlin, flats and suites are not numbered. They can only be distinguished by the names of their owners. Another interesting fact is that in 1878 Berlin became the first city in the world to introduce public toilets, and since they were mostly occupied by coffee enthusiasts, the locals called them “Caf Achteck”.

The law-abiding Germans also have an especially “honest” public transportation system, characterized by the lack of any devices for marking tickets. The passengers are required to buy them at stops before embarking. Random checks still happen from time to time, but the system presumes voluntary compliance, which makes the locals proud.

What to see

Where to stay

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