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The Humboldt University, nearly fifteen years after the fall of the Wall, is rapidly returning to its former academic glory after stagnating during the GDR period. In the past, the Humboldt saw figures as diverse as Marx and Engels (as students) and Einstein, and the Brothers Grimm (as staff members) pass through its halls.
You can wander into the Humboldt’s main hall and even go upstairs to the smaller libraries without anyone asking you where you are going. It’s quite a maze, and high in the building, under the roof, you’ll get lost in an amazing array of old books in many languages: it’s a collector’s dream!
Wilhelm and Alexander von Humboldt
The Humboldt University in Berlin was founded in 1810 by the scholar, linguist and diplomat Wilhelm von Humboldt, 1767-1835, who for a short time -- less than a year, actually -- was in charge of education in the government of Prussia. During that time he and his staff not only founded the new university but also instituted sweeping reforms of the Prussian school system.
His younger brother Alexander von Humboldt, 1769-1859, was a naturalist and explorer who was especially interested in botany, geography and geology. He traveled for five years in Latin America and then spent the next twenty-one years, mainly in Paris, writing up the scientific results of his travels and publishing them in a set of huge, elaborately illustrated volumes. (I have looked through some of these in libraries and was astounded at the scope and vast amounts of detail.)
In the winter of 1827-28 Alexander von Humboldt gave a series of lectures on the natural sciences at the University of Berlin, now the Humboldt University. These lectures were the starting point of Kosmos, a "physical description of the world", in which he explained and summed up the results of a number of scientific disciplines of his time, including geography, geology, zoology, botany and astronomy.
Kosmos was a very popular book in the nineteenth century -- or books, since it was originally published in five volumes that Alexander von Humboldt wrote during the last three decades of his life. It was reprinted in various editions and was translated into several languages.
My copy of Kosmos (third photo) is a one-volume edition that I inherited from my father. It is in the original German but was printed and published in Philadelphia in 1869, ten years after the author's death.
1. Statues at Humboldt University
2. Books about Wilhelm and Alexander von Humboldt
3. Kosmos by Alexander von Humboldt
4. Cyclist at the Humboldt University
Under the Linden Trees
Named for the avenue of linden or lime trees that line it's central walkway, Under den Linden is a wide boulevard running from the Brandenburg Gate to the site of the former royal palace. Developed from a bridle path laid out by Elector Johann Georg of Brandenburg in the 16th century to reach his hunting grounds in the Tiergarten, the linden trees were planted in 1647 on the orders of Elector Friedrich Wilhelm, and it became the most famous street in the city. Sadly, during WWII, most of the trees were destroyed, but they were replanted in the 1950s.
Even in winter, Unter den Linden is a beautiful place to stroll, and you can appreciate the faded grandeur of days gone by.
- Budget Travel
- Historical Travel
Einstein lectured here
In 1905 Albert Einstein, who was then a 26-year-old employee of the Swiss Patent Office in Bern, published six scientific papers which among other things solved the long-standing problem of Brownian motion and introduced the totally new theory of Special Relativity. The 100th anniversary of these papers in 2005 was the occasion for numerous exhibitions on Einstein and his life and work.
Here at the Humboldt University in Berlin is where Einstein worked (and sometimes also lectured) from 1914 to 1932.
Thanks to VT member kokoryko (Hermann) for pointing out that Berlin was where Albert Einstein wrote his seminal paper on the theory of General Relativity, "the paper which changed our vision of the universe". This paper was first published in the Journal of the Prussian Academy of Sciences in Berlin in 1916.
Second photo: Here again is my favorite book on Einstein: Subtle is the Lord… The Science and the Life of Albert Einstein by Abraham Pais, published 1982 by Oxford University Press. Just don't ask me to explain the equations, okay?
Third, fourth and fifth photos: People riding bicycles past the Humboldt University on the street Unter den Linden. Albert Einstein was a keen cyclist who once said that he got the idea for his Special Theory of Relativity while riding his bicycle. Another Einstein quotation: “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.”
- Historical Travel
A Boulevard from Brandenburger Tor to the Castle
This is not a typical photo of Unter den Linden, as this tree-lined boulevard is Berlin’s central avenue. It leads from Pariser Platz on the east side of Brandenburger Tor to the (no more existing) Castle on Museumsinsel, passing the greatest surviving monuments of the former Prussian capital, and then further to Alexanderplatz.
This photo, taken through a passage of Brandenburger Tor, shows the ferocious building spree that takes place in this area, with the TV Tower on Alexanderplatz in the background.
Works on the boulevard already started about 1650, ordered by Elector (Kurfürst) Friedrich Wilhelm. The name means nothing more than “Under the Linden trees” – guess why… The boulevard followed a former riding path, commissioned by Elector Johann Georg in 1573, and connecting the Castle with Tiergarten which starts on the west side of Brandenburger Tor.
On this side of the Gate the avenue continues as Straße des 17. Juni (Street of 17 June), passing the Victory Column (Siegessäule).
If you are interested in more detailed descriptions of all the wonderful buildings and attractions on the boulevard Unter den Linden have a look at the Things to Do Tips of VT member mgmarcus. He has compiled them with love for detail on his Berlin page, including Deutsches Historisches Museum, Alte Kommandantur, Kronprinzenpalais, Zeughaus and Neue Wache.
Update July 2009
Berlin's Castle I mentioned earlier as no more existing will be rebuilt from 2010. At the end of 2008 the Italian architect Franco Stella from Vicenza was announced as the winner of the competition about the project which is considered Germany's most important building site of the century. The Bundestag, Germany's Parliament, had given out clear conditions for the kind of building they are expecting. This means: Three facades and the dome have to be Baroque reconstructions, and the eastern side can be modern.
The castle - in German: Berliner Stadtschloss - had been the site of the Prussian Kings. When it had fallen into ruins during World War II, the East German government had decided to blow it up in 1950. In 2002 the Bundestag decided to have it reconstructed. The costs are limited to 552 million Euro. A fundraising club has to raise 80 million Euro for the Baroque facade. Since December 2008 a model can be seen at the Kronprinzenpalais.
The castle will be home of the so-called Humboldt-Forum which will be a showcase of culture and science. On 40,000 square metres it will feature non-European collections of Berlin's museums and a selection of the science archives of Humboldt University and pieces of the state library (Landesbibliothek).
- Historical Travel
- Hiking and Walking
Neue Wache: Eloquent Memorial
Thousands of tourists stroll down Unter den Linden. They notice the impressive neoclassical facade and colonade of the Neue Wache building, just before reaching the Lustgarten.
Not all of them walk inside. Some peep in, see what seems like an almost empty hall, and walk out again. My tip is: take your time and spend a few minutes inside.
The Neue Wache is today the official "Central Memorial of the Federal Republic of Germany". The interior is dark and empty, creating a sensation of void, and and in the center you will find Käthe Kollwitz 's "Pieta" sculpture, eloquent, expressive and moving, like all of her sculptures (see my tip on the Käthe Kollwitz Museum in Berlin).
This is a memorial to all war victims.
The history of the building goes back to 1816, when Friedrich Wilhelm III ordered its construction as a guard house. This was the first architectural gem conceived by Karl Friedrich Schinkel in Berlin. It served afterwards as "Memorial for the Fallen of the War" (First World War) before 1945, "Memorial for the Victims of Fascism and Militarism" (during the communist era), and now "Central Memorial of the Federal Republic of Germany".
So, take 5 minutes of your time, admire the building and the Pieta sculpture, and remember all the victims of war.
- Arts and Culture
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Stroll the Unter den Linden.....
There are many Institutions and well known places of interest along this older main street of the previous Eastern Berlin...it is also considered to be I suppose the center of Imperial Berlin..... Unter Den Linden starts at the Brandenberg Gate and makes its way to the former location of the Imperial Palace. Along the way you will pass the Russian Embassy....Humboldt University..the Statue of Frederick the Great....and cross the Berlin Schlossbruecke [Palace Bridge] over the River Spree and onto and off of Museum Island... where the street eventually changes its name to Karl-Liebknecht-Strasse.
Other notable places of interest you will see... the British Embassy...the Hungarian Embassy...the State Opera...the State Library...and the Neu wache..converted to a Memorial for the Fallen Soldiers of the Fist World War.....originaly designed and built by the Archetect Shinkel...
- Historical Travel
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A neoclassical building now used as a tasteful anti-war-memorial; the interior is cobble-stone-paved, with a Käthe Kollwitz - sculpture of a mother holding her son in her arms in the centre. A quiet, special place in the middle of a busy city (next to the History Museum).
Unter den Linden
A beautiful boulevard which runs from the Brandenburg Gate. Walking from the gate there are some reasonably priced souvineer shops immediately on your right and these are shortly followed by the rather large Russian Embassy.
In the middle of the boulevard there are little groups of table where you can enjoy a nice, cool beer.
Down Unter den Linden on the left is the Humboldt Universitat where Marx studied and opposite here is Babelplatz
Deutsches Historisches Museum Web Cam
Take a stroll down Unter den Linden and enjoy the streetscape. It is full of classic buildings, statues, history, culture and people. Deutsches Historisches Museum has web cams looking down Unter den Linden to Brandenburger Tor and back to Berliner Dom. I enjoy regularly looking at this web cam site as it brings back so many great memories. The web-cams are updated every 30 seconds 24 hours a day. The museum itself, as you can probably guess from it's name, has a focus on German history and is open daily, except Wednesday, from 10am. to 6pm with free entrance. This photo was taken April 12, 2005 and shows a large roadworks project in action, other photos attached show the completed works and seasonal impacts. The first building on the right is the courtyard entrance to Humboldt University. The statue in the middle of the street is the famous equestrian statue of Frederick the Great. The Brandenburg Gate can be seen in the distance and is an excellant start, finish or return point fror a walk down the street. The trees you see dividing the roads are lime trees from which the name of the street was derived, "under the lime trees".
Berlin Walk - Unter den Laden
This was my favourite Berlin "Walk", picture taken from viewing platform of TV Tower. You can see Berliner Dom (Berlin Cathederal) just before start of Unter den Linden (One of the most famous streets in Berlin) leading up to Brandenburg Gate (Brandenburgor Tor - last city gate remaining, built in 1791) and the Reichstag (German Parliament) and Reichstag Dome.
Travel my train to Zoologischer Garten S Bahn or U Bahn and catch Bus 100 for a pre walk tour down Unter den Linden, exit at Alexanderplatz and walk back.
Some of the many sites to see on the walk
* Alexanderplatz (communist designed commercial square and transport hub)
* TV Tower (365m) is worth going up on clear days and queues are not long
* Marienkirche - Gothic Lutheran Church built 1270 (free tour (donation) 1pm)
* Neptunbrunnen - Neptune Fountain (within Alexanderplatz)
* World Time Clock (within Alexanderplatz)
* Statue of Marx and Engles in the park opposite Alexanderplatz
* Schlossbrucke (Bridge) that leads over river onto start of Unter den Linden
* Berliner Dom (Cathederal, royal crypts / climb 270 steps for good views)
* Unter den Linden (One of the most famous streets in Berlin)
* Deutsches Historisches Museum, History museum
* Kronprinzenpalais, Crown Princes Palace
* Neue Wache, war memorial (neo classical architecture)
* Humboldt University (statue of Helmholtz in front)
* Reiterdenkmal Friedrich, (Equestrian Statue of Frederick the Great)
* Staatsoper, State Opera House (neo classical farcade)
* Bebelplatz, old opera square (site of the book burning)
* Alte Bibliothek, old state library (beautiful baroque building)
* Altes Palais, neo-classical palace (behind Alte Bibliothek)
* Staatsbibliothek, state library (ivy-clad building)
* Russische Botschaft, Russian Embassy (monumental wedding cake design)
* Pariser Platz (Monumental square close to Brandenburg Gate / embassies)
* Brandenburg Gate / Brandenburgor Tor (last city gate, built in 1791)
* Reichstag (German Parliament)
* Reichstag Dome (free entry / long queues shorter in late pm)
Unter den Linden
Unter den Linden (under the lime trees) starts at the Brandenburg Gate and ends at the Schlossbrücke Bridge and is approximately 1 mile in length. It is a street that has a grassed central mall with a carriageway running down either side. It is a place to sit and rest, have a drink or something to eat. It is a street of grand buildings right in the heart of Berlin with expensive hotels, embassies, museums, the State Opera House, University Buildings and statues. The street has a long history with the lime trees first being planted in 1647 and was used as a riding path, over the years contained many grand buildings and palaces. The area ended up totalling ruined during WW2 with all the trees being cut down for firewood and all the building destroyed but reconstruction over the years has returned the street to its former glory.
The neo-classical avenue
"Unter den Linden" has been the most representative avenue of Berlin since the days of the Prussian kings. It is dotted with neo-classical limestone buildings, museums, embassies, banks, shops and cafes, and leads to the Brandenburg Gate. The nearby "Friedrichstrasse" is a commercial center ideal for shopping. Especially beautiful ist the "Schlossbrücke" with 8 monumental sculptures.
To name but a few interesting buildings along "Unter den Linden":
- German History Museum (Deutsches Historisches Museum / "Altes Zeughaus")
- "Neue Wache" ( a remembrance place dedicated to the victims of the world wars)
- Humboldt University
- Hedwigskirche (resembling the Roman Pantheon)
- Deutsche Staatsoper (German State Opera)
- monument of Prussian King Frederick the Great
- Russian Embassy
Also a Campus
This historic Berliner avenue crosses the campus of Humboldt-University. The buiding on the picture is one of University complex, a former palace of prince Henry. The Humboldt statue in front of the main entrance was donated by La Habana University and gives Humboldt the title of "segundo descubridor de Cuba". Marx and Engels studied here and Albert Einstein teached at Humboldt also.
Esta historica avenida berlinesa cruza el campus de la Universidad Humboldt. El edificio de la foto es uno de los del complejo universitario, originariamente un palacio del principe Enrique. La estatua de Humboldt que hay delante de la entrada principal fue donada por la Universidad de La Habana y otorga a Humboldt el titulo de "segundo descubridor de Cuba". Marx y Engels fueron alumnos de esta Universidad y Albert Einstein impartio clases aqui.
- Arts and Culture
Unter den Linden - Bebelplatz
Bebelplatz is a special square to hold on your visit for half an hour
Main attractions are :
The Hedwigs Kathedrale
The staple of books
In 1933, Nazi Minister for Propaganda Joseph Goebbels began to synchronize culture, by which the arts were brought in line with Nazi goals. The government purged cultural organizations of Jews and others alleged to be politically or artistically suspect. The works of leading German writers such as Bertold Brecht, Thomas Mann Lion Feuchtwanger and Alfred Kerr were thrown in to flames in a book burning ceremony in Berlin.
The writer Heinrich Heine wrote long before this ceremony (see plate):
“Dort, wo man Bücher verbrennt, verbrennt man am Ende auch Menschen“"Where they burn books, they will end in burning human beings."
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