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Go to the TV tower
You get a really good view from up there. Go there when they open then there´s no line. If you are travelling in a group and somebody dosen´t want to go up, there´s a Starbuck on ground floor where they can have a coffee while waiting.
Alexanderplatz, or Alex, as it’s known to Berliners is a windswept pedestrianised plaza doubling up as a meeting point and transport hub in what used to be East Berlin.
It was the downtown centre for the locals when it was behind the Iron Curtain and it still is today and no visit to Berlin would be complete without visiting Alex.
It’s more than likely that you’ll arrive by one of the many modes of transport that converge here. If you arrive by S Bahn head north out of the station away from the monumental TV Tower, cross the road and walk through to the plaza where the Park Inn towers over the square below.
Named in honour of a visit to Berlin by the Russian Tsar Alexander I in 1805, it started life as a cattle and wool market in the Middle Ages and has been a focal point ever since.
The square has seen many ups and downs - being seedy one minute, and upmarket the next. The 1920s and early thirties were probably its apogee when re-development brought some modern architecture of the day into the arena. Two of the buildings - the Alexanderhaus and the Berolinahaus - survived the 2nd World War and are still standing today.
What we mainly see now though is largely a product of the GDR’s idea of a downtown centre for East Berlin that could rival anything that West Berlin could do, and the large department store known as Centrum (now Kaufhof) was one of the best stocked shops in Eastern Germany.
The Hotel Stadt Berlin (now the Park Inn) was built in the late 1960s, as was the World Clock and Friendship among Nations Fountain. The Fountain is near the Park Inn and the clock is in the eastern part (far side) of the plaza.
Being a focal point meant that it attracted a fair number of demonstrations over the years but none bigger than the anti-government rally just before the wall came down in Nov 1989. It’s been estimated that up to a million people joined the demonstration.
Now that the wall has come down it has become popular with Berliners and visitors alike. It also means that it hasn’t escaped the attention of developers either and several of the buildings around the square have had a makeover. So far no major development has taken place to alter the GDR concept of the square but on the other side of the railway station construction work has already started next to the TV Tower.
I’ve always regarded this area as an extension to Alexanderplatz and has its own appealing features and so I wouldn’t like to see it change too much either.
During the communist years it could well have seemed quite a soulless place at times but I don’t think it’s necessary to rush headlong into transforming it into just another commercial square like so many others - and I’d like to think that Berliners see it the same way and keep Alex as a special part of their extraordinary history.
Hessel's Berlin Experience :) Part 3
8th day – 1.9.2013
Started my day going to see the Charlottenburg Palace, or as called in German, Schloss Charlottenburg. This is the largest palace in Berlin, and the only surviving royal residence in the city dating back to the time of the Hohenzollern family. All the other palaces and surviving royal residence are in Potsdam and its surroundings. The palace was built at the end of the 17th century and was greatly expanded during the 18th century. The palace with its gardens are a major tourist attraction.
I got there rather early before they opened the palace up for tourists, so I took photos from outside and unfortunately never went actually into the palace. I did plan to return at a later stage and go inside, but it was all a matter of time. Unfortunately that didn’t happen.
After that I walked past the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, with its damaged tower. The damaged tower is a symbol of Berlin’s resolve to rebuild the city after the war and a constant reminder of the destruction of war. The church is located at the center of former West Berlin.
I then passed the Europa Center, with its crowning glory being the Mercedes Star that sits on top of the building. When opened in 1963, it was one of Europe’s most modern shopping centers. It is a symbol of post war Germany.
Then I passed by the World Time Clock at Alexanderplatz. This clock displays the time for various cities around the world.
Most of my trip so far was seeing as many of the main sights in Berlin as possible. I tried to see a lot, and by doing that, I was not really able to actually go inside the many museums and palaces etc. Doing that would not able me to see as much as I wanted to see. Since I do appreciate art, architecture and history, but not being such an arty or historical fanatic, the walking tours I did gave me a general understanding of the history and architecture. Going into museums would have been too much for me, I think.
If I was really into art, I believe I would have wanted to go into a lot more museums and palaces. The same applies to history. There are so many museums about German history that I didn’t go into. But as I said, I got a brief history review from the tours I did.
However, there was one Art museum that I did go into. If I was to go to one, it had to be the Pergamon Museum on Museum Island. Many people suggested I go there, so on my 8th day, I headed to Museum Island just for that.
The Pergamon Museum is the newest museum of the 5 on Museum Island. It first opened in 1930. It is named after the Pergamon Altar, an enormous monument which occupies a whole room. The Pergamon houses original-sized reconstructed monumental buildings such as the Pergamon Altar and the Market Gate of Miletus, all consisting of parts transported from Turkey. The museum is subdivided into the Antiquity collection, the Middle East Museum and the Museum of Islamic art. It is the most visited art museum in Germany.
Even though I am not an art person really, I really was able to enjoy and admire the art and monuments in the museum.
After the amazing Pergamon Museum, I passed by Palace Bridge or known in German, as Schlossbrucke. This bridge was built in the early 1800’s and led to the palace that was located on Museum Island. This bridge is considered the most beautiful, out of the numerous bridges in Berlin.
As I explained earlier, I first tried to see as much as possible, but now being towards the end of my holiday, I did try to go into just a few museums. So after the art and architecture of the Pergamon, I went into the Jewish Museum, for just a bit of history. The Jewish Museum in Berlin is one of the largest in Europe. The permanent Exhibition has slanted walls, tilted surfaces, light, narrowness, and darkness – those who enter the museum’s basement come to 3 axes. Two of them – the Axis of Exile and the Axis of the Holocaust confront visitors with the Nazi era. Personal documents and objects tell of persecution and emigration. The third Axis, the Axis of Continuity leads to the permanent exhibition.
Of course a very interesting experience.
Now, if that wasn’t enough of museums for me for the day, I still decided to go to another museum. Not art nor history, but this time something a bit different. I went to the Deutsches Currywurst Museum in Berlin. I like things a bit different to the normal type of museums , so after seeing these stands selling Currywurst all over everywhere I went and understanding that the Currywurst is Berlin’s traditional snack meal, I just had to go to the museum, and afterwards actually trying out this traditional sausage of Berlin with the tasty Curry Sauce. Meaning of Currywurst is actually Curried sausage. Traditional and unconventional at the same time, it is the culinary emblem of Germany’s capital city. This museum is dedicated to the curried sausage, its friends and fans, the legends and stories coming along with it. I would say not exactly the most educational or interesting topic or museum, but a unique and fun experience anyway. Best part I suppose was to get to eat and taste a Currywurst at the end, if one hadn’t tasted until then.
It was OK, but I suppose on a basis, one could pass on this museum.
OK, was about to end my day, not before I noticed a dream car for myself….this time a black sports Bugatti. What a car!! Should have been mine…wishful thinking again
9th day – 2.9.2013
I still had quite a few places I wanted to go to and do on my holiday, but I had not seen everything I wanted to see at the Berlin Zoo, so I had to return for my 3rd zoo visit, just for a few hours. This time got to see more and take lots of photos, and go even into the Aquarium which was amazing. Had a great time, and spent about a half a day there.
After that, I wanted to go to the store everyone was telling me about, Pri Mark. Apparently, was supposed to be very cheap and people fill up baskets with clothes and it all works out rather cheap. I had no plans to do shopping at all, but couldn’t resist the indeed cheap prices and bought myself a few things to take back home. It was packed with people shopping, and had there been less people, I may have even gone out with a much bigger bag of shopping.
Then I decided I have to go to the Museum fur Naturkunde. It was recommended by a good friend back home. This museum has over 30 million objects in the scientific collection and a fascinating exhibition. It includes in the main hall a huge skeleton of a dinosaur. Well, I had left visiting inside the different museums till the very end of my holiday and in a way, that was a big mistake. When I arrived there, I was told that they are closed on Mondays. I was so upset about that since that day was my last day in Berlin.
After that, I decided to go to yet another different experience, something I had listed on my “want to go to” list. It was the Berliner Gruselkabinett or Berlin Chamber of Horrors. I like these unique and even scary experiences. I thought it sounds like fun. It was said to have spine chilling effects, spectacular medical scenes from bygone days and an Exhibition documenting the fascinating history of the air-raid shelter from Second World War. Well, I got there to find a building looking rather deserted. I saw a sign saying the Berliner Gruselkabinett, but besides myself and another tourist looking for the place, there was not a soul. The neighbours seemed to know nothing about it. So it seemed like it did not exist anymore.
I wonder if someone on the forum or some other traveler knows more about it. But to me it seems like it has closed down. Was a pity for me since I did want to go there. I do suggest any future tourists wanting to go there, first really check it out if the place still operates.
Well after that, I thought I’d manage to do a few more different and exciting things and I went to the Trabi Safari museum, where one gets to see and go on tour on the old cult vehicle of East Germany, the Trabi. They have tours where you can go on and drive one of these unique vehicles. It is a tour that combines the actual fun experience of driving one of these cars together with a trabi guide providing information about the historical facts and funny things via radio of places seen from the car window. I would have loved to do it, but I got there a bit too late and I missed the last tour of the day. Unfortunately, this was also my last day in Berlin, so I knew I wouldn’t get to do this now on my visit in Berlin.
Another thing right next to the Trabis was the Hot Air Balloon, Welt Balloon. They have experiences of visitors going up in the balloon. Unfortunately, when I had arrived, that too was closed already.
So as you see, on my last day in Berlin, besides the zoo and Primark, everywhere else was closed, or I arrived too late.
In conclusion, I can say that I saw lots of things I wanted to see, had a FANTASTIC time, but unfortunately some places where I really wanted to go to and advise others to go to as a MUST such as the Trabi Safari tours, The Berlin Museum fur Naturkunde, The Berlin Chamber Of Horrors and the Hot Air Welt Balloon, I can only say I am sorry I missed out on and give advice to others to go to…. And hopefully if I ever visit Berlin again, I will definitely do those things. Oh, and I just remember, I would maybe also try a nice Segway tour of Berlin.
That was basically the end of a great holiday. The following morning I was to return home. Berlin is fantastic for all. I have truly enjoyed my holiday and hopefully one day will be back. BYE-BYE BERLIN! SEE YOU AGAIN SOON
- Museum Visits
Hessel's Berlin Experience :) - Part 1
My trip to Berlin – Hessel Zegal
1st day - 25.8.2013
Arrived at the Schonefeld airport at about 10:30 am. First thing I decided to do before even going into town was to buy some type of Travel Card. I had done some research before going on the holiday and asked also lots of questions on Virtual Tourist Forums. So I decided to buy a Berlin Welcome Card for 5 days for zones ABC. I knew I needed zones ABC first since the airport was in zone C and I had plans to go to Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp and Potsdam, which I knew were both in zone c. There was a poster also at the airport next to the Tourist Information desk, so it kind of made my decision quite easy.
It appeared later, that I did a lot of walking tours and walking generally but the card definitely helped me with discounts for the walking tours, for the few museums and attractions I went into and of course the travel on public transport. So the card definitely helped save and was really worthwhile getting.
After airport procedures and getting to my hotel, I didn’t waste a minute. Straight away looked around for a Hop On /Hop Off Bus tour, with live commentary. I decided to go on the bus with live commentary since I know the tour guides when explaining add a bit of their humour and it is somewhat more personal. Although I suppose if it was recorded, it may have been just as good. There are tours in many different languages, and after doing this tour, I think maybe I would have even heard better if I had earphones on the recorded explanations.
My plan was to go the full time round on the tour at first, and not get off at any points. That way I can get an idea of all the different sights in Berlin, and take pictures as much as possible, and then at a later stage maybe hop off and on as I please and also go back to certain sights which I found interesting. Unfortunately the bus I got on had an old man as the guide, he spoke rather softly, I couldn’t hear everything he said, his explanations were rather dry and without any humour. I couldn’t even tell when he went from German to English. I didn’t hear much and I was a bit disappointed. I decided to change to another bus from the same company, just with a different guide. This time, there was an older woman guide. She was actually a LOT better, added a bit of humour and didn’t give such dry explanations as the guide before. So it was much better. She explained very well. Only problem here was that everyone had to fasten the seat belts on the bus, so it was basically impossible to take photographs. I did get to snap a few photos though of many places such as the Berliner Dom, Ke De We, Gendarmenmarkt, the Fernsehturm, the Rotes Rathaus, Brandenburger Gate, the Reichstag, Unter den Linden, Alexanderplatz and more. I think in general, it probably depends on the guide, but I did notice that at all times, other competing Hop On /Hop Off bus companies seemed rather full, whereas, the company I went on seemed always emptier. I believe I made a bad choice when choosing a company for these tours. The company I went on was Tempelhofer Sightseeing. I don’t want to say that others don’t enjoy themselves, I am just speaking from my experience, and no doubt, if I had to do another Hop On/Hop off tour, it would be with a different company.
At some stage I decided to get off the bus and go to the Fersehturm, which is the Television Tower which rises to a height of 368 metres tall. It is the tallest structure in Berlin and when opened in 1969, the Tower was the pride of the DDR and East Germany and Communist propaganda films were shown to promote the quality of life in East Berlin. Today it is one of Berlin’s most important landmarks. I went up the tower at 203 metres to a viewing platform with 360 degrees view of Berlin. Of course, having a Berlin Welcome Card did give me a discount. I did have to wait for about an hour before going up. So be prepared to wait.
After that, still on my first day, I went to the Sea Life Berlin which includes the Aquadom (which I wasn’t sure what that was). It was OK, got to see lots of different fish, star fish, jelly fish and more. Wasn’t sure what to expect though. Later on I discovered that the Aquadom was a lift going down in water with all fish around you. I didn’t know that nor see that, so I think I missed out possibly on the better attraction from the Sea Life. Again, it was OK, but those that go must make sure you see the Aquadom as well.
I was told though that the Aquarium at the Berlin Zoo is a lot more worthwhile seeing, so I knew I was going to see that at a later stage anyway.
I did enjoy my first day though and took lots of photos around Alexanderplatz and then at the Sea Life Berlin. Returned to my hotel, exhausted and went to bed.
2nd day – 26.8.2013
From advice that I got from Lucy on Virtual Tourist, I knew that I was going to do a lot of Walking Tours with “The Original Walking Tours in English” company. So my first tour began at 10:00 am, where I did the “Jewish Life in Berlin” Tour. Guide was Jessica, who did a great job. The tour was of the old Jewish quarter, with a lot of history facts mentioned. Visited the place where the Old Synagogue stood, the final resting place of Moses Mendelsohn in the Old Jewish Cemetery, the marvel domes of the New Synagogue and the place where Otto Weidt ran his workshop. Also walked past the place where the successful “Women’s Protest” helped save almost 2000 Jews from deportation to the death camps, and many more places. Lots of interesting history and facts.
Straight after that tour, I went on to do another one of their Walking Tours. This time the “Discover Berlin” tour. This tour I believe is THE tour everybody should go on. Also I think it should be the first tour to do, but I decided nevertheless to do the “Jewish Life In Berlin” tour first, since that tour was only once a week at 10:00 and I knew I could fit in the other tour, in the afternoon, straight after the one I went on. So it worked out well.
All this company’s Walking Tours are in my eyes a MUST. But the “Discover Berlin” tour is the most important one to do, especially if your time is limited and you only have a few days in Berlin. This tour is an important introduction to Berlin, and it takes you to all the important sights of Berlin. You get a lot of information about the city and different sights, history, archaeology etc. Our guide on this tour was Caroline, and she was OUTSTANDING!!!!
The tour started off at Museum Island, and continued to the Neue Wache, passed the Humboldt University at Bebelplatz, where the book burning took place in 1933, Statue of Frederick the Great, Unter Den linden, Brandenburger Gate, Hotel Adlon, The Reichstag, Holocaust Memorial of the Murdered European Jews. We saw a part of the Berlin Wall still existing, passed Topographie Des Terrors, Gendarmenmarkt Square with 3 magnificent buildings around it, the Konzerthaus, The Franzosischer Dom and the Deutscher Dom, and then Checkpoint Charlie and more.
Great day, Great tour (have I mentioned that yet??) and the end of a wonderful and tiring day.
3rd day – 27.8.2013
Another walking tour, this time the “Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp Memorial” tour, just outside Berlin. This tour was pretty touching and I believe not an easy tour for the tourist guides, but our guide, this time, Jonny, did a great job. At this camp, just outside Berlin, tens of thousands perished at the hands of the Nazi’s. Conditions of the prisoners were appalling and brutal. This camp became a training ground for the SS and the site of the headquarters of the whole concentration camp system. This camp was considered to be a working camp but still many prisoners were brutally murdered here and many died from the terrible conditions.
The guide explained the history of the Holocaust using witness accounts and historical research. They tried their best to explain how life was as a prisoner, and how some were murdered or died due to the terrible conditions and also how some were able to survive.
After this tour, I returned to Berlin. Had a long, emotional and tiring day. Left me pretty exhausted and my body decided it was time for bed! So, end of day 3
- Hiking and Walking
Is a square and busy traffic junction in Berlin. It is named after Tsar Alexander I. The Fernsehturm in the square, the second largest building in Europe, you can see from far above everything stabbing. Until the fall of the wall the square was part of East Berlin. The square was completely renovated in the 90s. Recently, also built several modern department stores
Fernseturm (Tv Tower) at Alexanderplatz, with its height of 368 metres is among the tallest structures in Europe. It is part of WFGT, World Federation of Great Towers. The tower was constructed between 1965 to 1969, by the former GDR administration who intended it a asymbol of Berlin. Inside the shaft are two lifts that shuttle visitor up to the sphere within 40 seconds. The observation floor is at 204 height with the platform turning once per hour.
One of the main areas of Berlin, this is the place you can find the cash machine centre [ ATM s ]. The TV tower is at this square. In picture you can see the entrance to the U B ahn. Alexanderplatz is always busy there many shops in the high rise buildings.
I spent a lot of my time in Berlin at Alexanderplatz, a pedestrianised square that used to lie in the former East Berlin zone. I enjoyed the bustle of Alexanderplatz. During my visit, an Oktoberfest was in full flow in the square which created a great atmosphere and buzz.
The square is named after Tsar Alexander I who visited Berlin in 1805. The 'Alex' as it is known by locals is a great place to shop too. There is a large Galeria Kaufhof store as well as various other shops; including a huge Saturn electronic shop and one of my personal faves, a branch of the fashion chain, New Yorker.
Alexanderplatz lies in the shadow of the huge TV Tower and is also home to the rotating World Time Clock (Weltzeituhr) which shows the time at numerous cities around the globe.
Alexanderplatz is also a great starting point to get to other parts of the city and further afield. There are connections to and from the 'Alex' by S-Bahn, train and U-Bahn.
- Budget Travel
I visited Alexanderplatz a number of times during my visit to Berlin. It is one of those areas that is always seems busy and it is an important hub in the transport system. The whole area was flattened during WW2 and was redeveloped in a typical socialist style during the 1960’s. Though there were plans to redevelope the area again after reunitification those plans have been put on hold at this time though there has been some tinkering around the edges with a new shopping centre. For those in a hurry there are numerous fast food outlets waiting to have their wares sampled. For those in need of retail therapy there is the upmarket Galeria Kaufhof. Two Tall structures dominate the area these are the Fernsehturm and the Park Inn Hotel, but closer to earth are the world clock and friendship fountain.
Alexanderplatz is a central Berlin square based in the district of Mitte, boxed in by department stores, the new Alexa shopping complex, high-rise hotels and buses, trams and trains running all over the city. Formerly seen as the centre of East Berlin, the soviets built their famous TV tower in Alexanderplatz in 1965-69, which stands a lofty 368m above the streets below. A popular destination for tourists who want to shop, eat Bratwurst and get a feel for inner city Berlin. Alexanderplatz also offers a great orientation point from which to explore the city.
- Historical Travel
Alexanderplatz - Worth Visiting
A large square in the former East Berlin surrounded by high rise buildings. The morning we visited we caught the metro from Stadtmitte underground station for a quick ride to Alexanderplatz. The train arrived at the square and as we emerged from the underground we were greeted by a fairground atmosphere.
A very busy platz, colourful activities that would please both adults and children. Market stalls, food vendors plus the cheap German sausage in a bun.
- Budget Travel
- Family Travel
The Alexanderplatz, popularly known as Alex, is a square and traffic intersection in the eastern part of Berlin. Each day more than 300,000 people. The square is located in the Mitte district and named after Czar Alexander I. The fountain in the square is locally known meeting. Near the square is a major tourist attraction, namely the Fernsehturm (television tower).
In the GDR era, the square was artificially created center of East Berlin, with the square key government buildings and prestigious projects, including the Inter Hotel Stadt Berlin.
After the Wende, plans were developed for a complete renovation of the square, with most existing buildings would be demolished and replaced by new buildings. Disappointing economic growth did, however, that the plans were not carried out. Only the Kaufhof department store was drastically renovated but the facade to be pushed forward towards square was moved and southeast of the square rose the new shopping center Alexa. In the northeastern corner of the square was started in 2007 with the construction of a new kantoor-/winkelpand that the square should start giving more closed appearance.
- Arts and Culture
- Food and Dining
Worldtime Clock displays the time for various cities around the world. The clock face can incorporate multiple round analogue clocks with moving hands or multiple digital clocks with numeric readouts. The each clock is labelled with the name of a major city or time zone in the world. A moving circular map of the world rotating inside a stationary 24 hour dial ring.
Worldtime Clock was constructed in 1969.
House of Teachers
The House of Teachers (Haus des Lehrers) was once a feature of Alexanderplatz, but now sits behind a large new shopping centre built in front of it. The building is a classic example of Socialist Realism, and the work of master architect, Hermann Henselmann, who is also responsible for the grand gates of Frankfurter Tor, the City Hochhaus in Leipzig, and the Jen-Tower in Jena. Henselmann was a legend of East German architecture, and for me the Haus des Lehrers is one of his best (although he disowned Socialist Realism later in life as a childish fad).
Like many buildings of Socialist Realism, it is functional, efficient, angled and almost completely lacking in decoration, save the frieze that celebrates the work of teachers in the GDR. Behind the frieze is one of the largest libraries in Europe with over 650,000 books.
World Time Clock
The Weltzeituhr (World Time Clock) is one of my favourite, and most memorable sights in Berlin. It's very iconic of the eastern part of the city. Built in 1969 as part of the GDR's refurbishment of Alexanderplatz, it allows the time in any part of the world to be read. It rotates constantly, along with the solar system model above it. The whole clock weighs about 16 tonnes, and is about 10 meters high. It's a very popular meeting point, offering both a clear symbol to gather near, and a perfect shelter from rainy skies.
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