And oh! How could I forget! Beer!
I don’t know where to start, the classy Reichstag or the wondrous Babylonian Gate at the Pergamon Museum; the R.A.W graffiti walls or the Eastside Gallery.
I made a three-day trip to Berlin, went on two walking tours, climbed five floors four times a day to and from our apartment, froze on the first day, got baked on the last day and travelled by the U-Bahn (metro rail) more than any Berliner would’ve travelled in it. Basically, in three completely packed days, I saw the most intriguing places one has to see in Berlin and more.
Our walking tour started at the majestic Brandenburg Gate, Berlin’s famous landmark and a fantastic work of 18th century architecture. There is something very charming about the idol of the Roman Goddess Victoria, holding her spear and riding her chariot to victory.
From there we followed the path to the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. The vast expanse of tomb-stone like monuments, more than anything, makes you think; think about the claustrophobia and the suffocation that the Jews and SS Prisoners might have felt while being loaded and sent off to concentration camps, the everlasting panic they felt on being separated from their families and the pain of being made to feel inferior among self-proclaimed superiors. The memorial itself offers no explanation and you are free to perceive it however you like.
From there we went to a place (now turned into a parking lot) where Hitler’s bunker once existed. It was the bunker where he hid during his last few months and eventually shot himself. George, our enthusiastic tour guide, told us of how Hitler first killed his wife, then consumed cyanide and shot himself and ordered for his body to be burnt so no one could mess with his corpse. Can you imagine the ego he had!
Listen to George tell you the story. There might be slight disturbance because of the whistling wind, but it’s quite insignificant.
This is the sign he is referring to. You could zoom in and read if you like.
The next few stops were not as interesting as the last. We saw Nazi architecture (one of the few existing building that the Nazis constructed) which is appropriately used as the most hateful place, the tax office. Heh.
As we walked I saw bizarre things on the streets that distracted me from the tour. Take these pictures for example.
When I found my tour-group again, I saw them looking around in awe, at two churches that mirrored each other. We were standing in the middle of Gendarmenmarkt, a square that consists of the French and German cathedrals and the Konzerthaus in between them. Once again, it’s a breathtaking architectural marvel, especially so when the lights are turned on at night and during summer when the orchestra plays outside the Konzerthaus, in the square. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see it in its full swing. And I’m not a great fan of architecture photography, so my photos are very average.
The most striking part of these churches is that almost all of them were completely destroyed during the Second World War. The domes were reconstructed and prettied up in 1984. But the tiny statues that stand atop the building remain from the 1700’s. The Nazis, whose love for architecture was unprecedented (scoff), took off the statues during the war and buried them far away where they wouldn’t be damaged. The monuments were put right back when the church was reconstructed.
Next we went to another war memorial, Neue Wache. It was a very touching one. It consisted of a sculpture of a woman holding her dying son in her arms. What makes it moving is that when it rains, water flows down the mother’s face, making her weep. This was sculpted by a woman who lost her husband in the First World War and lost her son and her brother in the Second World War.
You can find pictures online of this monument here. I was advised by my brother in law not to use the picture I clicked because it invades the privacy of a woman who was having a silent moment before the monument.
Right. Digest that much. My parents are in town. I shall come back and continue writing about my Berlin exploration. Tata!!