Since my childhood, I have always been interested in history. I was well aware that Berlin carries the history of not only Germany but also the whole world. So, this time on the occasion of New Year 2014, I packed my bags to explore Berlin city in detail. If you have ever watched the documentary about Germany during World War II, you must have been surprised to see how devastated Berlin was. Now, it doesn't look like it was at war anytime in past. Within, 70 years of Second World War, Germany managed to become one of the richest countries in the world. Very impressive!
I found Berlin very cold. At some point, I just wanted to sit inside a room in front of fire with coffee. Good thing is, all the main attractions are nearby each other, apart from Berlin Wall, which takes about 15 minutes by train from Reichstag building. The tallest structure in Berlin, fernsehturm (television tower), which is 368 metres is situated in the heart of Berlin. It can be seen from anywhere in the centre of city. By paying 12.50 Euro, you can go up to 203 metres by lift and get magnificent view of Berlin city.
Until early 20th century, Germany was ruled by a King. Prussia was German kingdom, which was one of the strongest in Europe. The victory column was constructed to mark the Prussian victory against other European countries during 19th century.
The Reichstag building is the German parliament house since 1999. It was originally built in 1893 and from 1894 till 1933, this building was the seat of democratically elected parliaments. However, the building was hugely damaged during World War II. After that, Germany was divided into East Germany and West Germany. The West Germany established Bonn as their capital from 1949 to 1990 and during this period, the official seat of government was also held in Bonn. The Reichstag building was remained damaged until German's reunification on 3rd October 1990. The reconstruction of the building was designed by a English architect Norman Foster.
Surprisingly, the entry to this building was free but you need to get registered before you enter it. For that we stayed in queue for 3 hours. We didn't know we could book online in advance. If you are planning to visit, go here to get registered in advance.
|Close view of Reichstag Building|
On top of the Reichstag Building is the Reichstag Dome, which symbolises the reunification of Germany. The architect of this building hugely impressed me. You get the taste of both classic as well as modern design. Although entry to the building is free, it’s managed with high security. From the ground floor of Reichstag building, the lift takes you directly to the top of the building at which a dome stands with its incredible beauty. There is a separate ramp inside the dome to go around up to the top. Audio guide is provided in different languages and it starts automatically as you step up to the ramp to go to the roof. As you circle around the dome, you can see panoramic view of many attractions around that place. Audio guide explains you everything about the main attractions you can see from where you are standing.
Another thing to admire about this building is, the centre of the dome is the mirrored cone, which reflects sunlight into the Bundestag chamber below. We were told that with the reflection of sunlight through those mirrors, the parliament members can be seen working downstair in the building but I couldn't see it. About 80% of the annual electricity and 90% of the heat load is powered by biofuel in this building. Being Chemical Engineer myself, I was hugely impressed.
|Panoramic view of Berlin city from top of Reichstag Dome|
|Top floor of Reichstag Dome|
|Conical shaped Dome's view from the top|
THE HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL
The holocaust memorial is considered as one of the main attractions in Berlin but people don't go there to enjoy or learn something but to remember the darkest history of Germany. This place was built in memory of thousands of Jews who were killed during World War II. The area is about 19000 square meters, covered with concrete slabs of different heights. While spending time there, I couldn't help but imagine how life at that time must have been.
|Walking through concrete slabs|
Checkpoint Charlie was the crossing point in Berlin Wall between East Berlin and West Berlin during cold war. During that time, it was mainly open for foreigners and allied armies.
After Germany was divided into East and West following World War II, East Germany was administrated by Soviet forces whereas West Germany by allied forces as shown in picture below.
Berlin wall was constructed to divide East from West Germany. This wall is historically popular and more than anything, it is the wall that probably very few people wanted its existence. Once, it was probably the most powerful wall which killed many people but now, part of it stood there in the middle of Berlin for visitors' attraction. People who were killed during their attempt to escape to other side are still remembered. In 1989, after 294 out of 400 parliaments voted for unification, the wall was destroyed. Now, it looks like a normal abandoned wall. During my whole time there, I was wondering whether Germans should demolish that because of what it used to be or keep it as a reference. I couldn't come to the conclusion.
|Entrance of the wall from where former East Germany starts. Now its free border.|
|Memoirs of Berlin wall|
|Picture taken from the wall. This place used to be the part of East Germany|
NEW YEAR 2014 CELEBRATION IN BRANDENBURG GATE
I visited Brandenburg gate in the morning of 31st December and it was getting ready for the night's performance. I was more excited than ever. There was high security everywhere. Not being sure where the fireworks will be displayed, we tried to get the seat close to the stage. We stood there since 17:00 hours..... Crazy, right? :O But it wasn't only me, there were other hundred thousands of people with me. Some of the performances were amazing. Although we couldn't understand what they were saying, we were dancing because music was good. Oh yea, there were some bands from England too.
|Brandenburg gate in the morning time of the New Year Eve celebration|
|Crowd in front of me|
|German band performing|
|Crowd behind me|
|I was loving the lights|
|I couldn't catch his name but his performance was amazing.|
By the time the firework started, I was really tired of standing. Then the counting started when it was 10 seconds to 00:00 hours.
Zehn--------Neun--------Acht------Sieben------ Sechs------ fünf-------Vier ------drei ------zwei------ein
''Happy New Year''
FIREWORKS IN PICTURES: