Outside Berlin, Berlin
Many Berlin tourists want to take e trip to the small towns or villages in the Brandenburg area around the big city Berlin. Most of them go to Potsdam. If you want to see some medieval walls, towers, a castle and a huge old church, take a trip to Beeskow (and read my Beeskow - page).
Berlin is a huge city, 3.5 million odd people I believe within its boundaries, but just outside the borders you will still find numerous small villages in certain areas. Many of the young people of these towns must-needs have moved into the city to work, or simply did not like the quieter lifestyle of the countryside and came into the big city. Smaller towns are losing ground, many houses stand empty or abandoned partially fallen down. Some even from damage of WWII or before. Many of these properties can be bought for little money to be renovated.
My friend Andreas has such a house. Its owner simply was tired of it and moved into the city. The former owner left all of his possessions, even family photos and children's toys, grandfather clocks and books, simply left them and asked that they be cared for. This is rather an unusual case, but these "off the beaten path" areas can still be interesting. Sitting in someone's front parlour having tea or a beer. We had simply been walking down the street and invited in by an old woman who just wanted to talk, reminiscence about the past, people now gone, children, family. A little sad, but still rich in character. Outside the borders of the city of Berlin, you can find many such places.
Dresden's name possibly comes from Drezdany, a name of one Slavic group, who lived here. First time city was mentioned in 1206, and from 15th century became as a capital of Saxon princes. Dresden history was especially successful in 18th century, when it had full cultural, economic, life, gathered good collections of art, was very rich and modern of that time architecture.
Pity, that end of Second World War send some "gifts" to city - bombs, most of old part was destroyed. Now almost all old part is reconstructed and seems to be the most beautiful part for tourists.
I have been a few days in Dresden, but I believe it is also possible to see it for a day trip, but only essential things.
Dresden is about 190 kilometers from Berlin.
Visit the picturesque palaces and gardens in Potsdam.
Potsdam can easily be reached by train or subway (U-Bahn) with a so-called ABC ticket.
We were here January 2009, just after some snow and walked through the park and the village most of the day. Because of the cold, we decided to take a tour in palace Sanssouci, which turned out to be a total rip-off.
The tour was 8 euros for just 30 minutes with an audio-guide. There were way too many people in our group which made it impossible to walk around the small rooms and have a good look at everything. So, just admire the outside and spend your money on some Bratwurst and Gluhwein!
Potsdam is not just a suburb of Berlin, but a major city in its own right. In former times it was the summer residence of Friedrich the Great, whose palace and park "Sanssouci" are still major tourist attractions. Potsdam is now the capital of the Land of Brandenburg.
The Adult Education Center in Potsdam is named after Albert Einstein, who had numerous connections to this city. There has been an "Einstein Tower" in Potsdam since 1921, and an "Einstein Institute" since 1924. Einstein himself had a summer house in Caputh, near Potsdam, starting in 1929.
It´s a 80 min train ride from Berlin and boasts a lot:
thouroughly planned and designed, it´s the first socialistic town in Germany
here a short excerpt from my Eisenhüttenstadt page:
"Architecturally , the style of "Nationale Bautradition" dominated the build-up of the living areas. Typical for these residental areas are passages between the houses ornated with columns, pilasters or cornices. The facades are decorated with oriels and ornamental fences or in other places with sgraffitos. The courtyards are laid out as small parks..."
more info here:
I'ts a trip to dispair. You can see the quiet within the madness that a concentration camp used to be.
The place around looks so peaceful it's hard to believe the horrors that went on in there.
Take a box of kleenex if you are sentimental on the subject.
Seelowe hoeher or Seelow Heights..about 30 miles due East of Berlin on Hwy 1 (a very scenic drive). This is a small town almost on the Polish border that saw a great deal of fighting in WWII. The Germans made their final stand against the Russians reportedly to buy time for the civilians of Berlin to escape..There was extremely fierce fighting and many of the emplacements and positions are still in place..The best restaurant in town is the Schwarzer Adler (Black Eagle ?) and that also does double duty as a hotel. There is a small museum on the way to the polish border (hwy1) that is magnificent in its historical presentation of the battle..they have a regurlarly scheduled video show and if you ask the curator he will provide it in English. Also a lighted map table portraying the troop movements etc...THIS IS WORTHY OF A TRIP !
First time Potsdam was mentioned already in 993, as Poztupimi with Slavic castle. I The turning point of Potsdam was the middle of 17th century, when Frederick William have chosen it as a residence. So, later 18th and 19th century it was a place of residential palaces of Prussian kings with bustling style of baroque, also copies of Ancient Rome buildings and interesting modern inventions. In 1945 probably the most popular event happened in Potsdam - agreement of Potsdam was signed. After it intensive reconstruction of old part was started, as it was hardly devastated in time of war.
It is known for many palaces and parks, mainly Royal ones.
Potsdam is about 38 kilometers from Berlin.
This tour is recommended for people who want to see something beside the usual tourist attractions of Chechpoint Charlie and Brandenburger Tor.
Those are undiscovered spots.
Dammsmühle palace is a beautiful old palace just outside berlin. It is abandoned for many years, which only adds to the mysterious atmosphere there.
Lanke palace is a french-renessiance style palace, very beutiful, located next to a small, clear lake.
Also, the lake wandlitz, is Brandenburgs cleanest lake, and the landscape there is beautiful. In summer there is an option to bath there.
If you like to get out of Berlin take one of the S Bahn trains and go to Potsdam. Its an hour drive. Potsdam has one of the most beautiful parks I`ve been. Its just nice to walk around there. Nice little bars, restaurants, lakes around Potsdam and very laid back. If you go up north there are all the Berlin lakes and its great in the summer. If people are interested this area is Brandenburg and they`ve got good tourist informations.
Prague ? Off the beaten path in Berlin ? yes, why not ! It's a train ride away & Prague is so unlike Berlin with rich cultures & history, in some ways connecting to Berlin. The war etc.
I think it's about 6 hours between them by train. If you are in Berlin maybe more than 1 week, please, please do go to Prague. you will thank me later.
It's a beautiful city in another country of course. Amazing sceneries in the north of Czech Republic as well. If you decide not to reach Prague, get off in the north of Czech Republic.
If I was not running all the times in my travel in that year 2002, I would love to stop in the north of Czech Republic.
Gedenkstätte und Museum Sachsenhausen, the former KL Sachsenhausen . A concentrationkamp near Oranienburg. A very chilling place certainly when i was there when it had realy frozen. Its a big open space surrounded by fences. So not much left to look at but knowing the stories from tv and my studies etc makes you feel the atmosphere and one can´t even start to imagine how it must have been.
There is though an exhibition in one of the old baracks. The glas container filled with hair certainly made my hairs rise. A must see for everyone who wants to know about WW2.
A park I always try to go to is Schlosspark Buch. It's north of Berlin on the edge of B-zone, if you go by S-Bahn S2. You can enter the park just outside the station and immediatly it's like you are in another world. Big old trees makes almost everything lie in a shadow. Ivy climbs on many trees, small streams and a few ponds with ducks. It's a very, very nice park, not big but nice.
Frederick the Great had no great love for his capital city (but then Berliners had no great love for him) and so, in 1744, he commissioned Georg von Knobelsdorff to build him a residence where he and his wife could live 'without cares - sans soucci'. Incredibly, the palace was completed within the year (although the layout of the parklands took another 5 years - and even then, 'officially' they took much longer as additions and changes were made for the next 130 years).
Sans Soucci is a surprisingly modest royal palace - one storey Baroque, topped by an oxidised green dome and ornamental statues. The interior is anything but modest - a Rococco feast of gilt, mirrors, curlicures and scrolls, marble, lacquerwork and more. The palace itself only contained 13 rooms under Frederick - the west wing (also of 13 rooms) was not added until 1840.
Frederick loved the palace so much he was determined to die and be buried at Sans Soucci (even to the point of working on the design of his tomb in the evenings). He eventually got his way, but not until 1991 and post re-unification of Germany. In the first instance, he was buried at the Garnisonkirche in Potsdam (1786), exumed in 1944 and taken to Schloss Hohenzollern in Swabia for safe-keeping, but eventually returned to Sans Soucci in 1991.