Tuesday, November 13, 2018


Here is a map of the whole tour and how it started.

Coming from Poznan we arrived in Berlin late afternoon. Before checking in our hotel we made a tour through Berlin with our bus, to give us an overview of the city.

During World War II, large parts of Berlin were destroyed in the 1943–45 air raids and during the Battle of Berlin. The Allies dropped 67,607 tons of bombs on the city, destroying 6,427 acres of the built up area. But I want to focus on Berlin of today. The history of Berlin you can read in Wikipedia.

I was quite impressed when I saw how it was now rebuilt with an obvious sense of creativity, keeping reminders of the past a little bit everywhere but fitting into the modern Berlin which apparently has a vibrant culture to enjoy, (you can read more about Berlin today here)

Most of the pictures I have taken from our bus or from a sightseeing bus. The city is so huge that in such a short time to get the best overview of the city is by sightseeing bus ! We even had to take two, because one showed the western part and the other the eastern part.

Brandenburg Gate a landmark and symbol all in one with over two hundred years of history. A former symbol of the divided city, it drew visitors who used to climb an observation platform in order to get a glimpse of the world behind the Iron Curtain, on the other side of the barren "death-strip" which separated East from West Berlin, geographically and politically.

When Germany was reunified following the fall of the Berlin in November 1989 Brandenburg Gate quickly reinvented itself into the New Berlin's symbol of unity. It was officially opened to traffic on December 22, 1989 and 100,000 people came to celebrate the occasion.

Today it's full of tourists from the whole world. I honestly was a bit disappointed I had imagined this gate much bigger, as I had always compared it to 

the "Cinquantenaire" in Brussels, which had been built for the 50th anniversary of Belgium. I haven't visited the inside of the Brandenburger gate, I thought anyway I want to come back.

Checkpoint Charlie was the best-known border crossing between East and West Berlin during the Cold War. At the height of the Berlin Crisis in 1961 U.S. and Soviet tanks faced each other here.

It is a reminder of the former border crossing, the Cold War and the partition of Berlin. The barrier and checkpoint booth, the flag and the sandbags are all based on the original site.

Checkpoint Charlie also was the setting for many thrillers and spy novels, from James Bond in Octopussy to The Spy Who Came In From The Cold.

Today as an interesting tourist attraction this dark past seems so far away. 

Just south of the Brandenburg Gate is Berlin’s Holocaust Memorial, with its two thousand, seven hundred and eleven gray concrete slabs, or stelae. They are identical in their horizontal dimensions (reminiscent of coffins), differing vertically (from 20 cm to more than 5 m tall), arranged in a precise rectilinear array over 2 ha  (4.7 acres), allowing for long, straight, and narrow alleys between them, along which the ground undulates. The installation is a living experiment in montage. The text in question is the title of the memorial: in German, Denkmal für die Ermordeten Juden Europas - a Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.

Without that title, it would be impossible to know what the structure is meant to be. I walked inside these concrete stelaes and waited for my usually so blooming imagination, but I just felt nothing, I was only thinking how do I get out of this maze with my inexistent orientation sense.

Here you can read how and why it had been created by the New York architect Peter Eisenmann, because I still cannot understand this creation, in my opinion it would have been better to create something understandable to everybody ! 

I saw people walking through with question marks in their eyes, some laying on the ground to take pictures looking up into the blue sky. I saw some people reading leaflets explaining the site, looking around and didn't understand either. Others took it for a hide and seek place, which was really shocking or climbed on the blocks and made selfies. Of course there was a sign to behave respectfully but apparently people can't read.

The Berlin wall was a barrier that surrounded West Berlin and prevented access to it from East Berlin and adjacent areas of East Germany during the period from 1961 to 1989. In the years between 1949 and 1961, about 2.5 million East Germans had fled from East to West Germany,the wall followed a 154 km (96-mile) zigzag path, but only 43 km (27 miles) of the wall divided East and West Berlin; the rest of the barrier separated West Berlin from the surrounding East German countryside.

Nowadays there’s almost nothing left of it. The remains of the Berlin Wall today make it one of the top things to do in Berlin.

An interesting way to know where the wall was is to follow a walking or cycling route through the city. This way you make sure that you’ll see all the remnants of the Berlin Wall. This road network is named ‘Berliner Mauerweg‘ and has become one of Berlin’s major attractions since its opening in 2005.

I saw the quite a lot of the remaining wall out of the bus and some pieces had nice graffiti, others were left as it had been, or replaced by sticks or lines on the ground.  If you want to learn more about the Berlin wall here is a link.

History of the Berlin Wall

more participants here


Andrew said...

A really good write up and photos. Who were the men kissing? Lenin and Brezhnev? Brezhnev and Nixon? I remember the fall of the wall so clearly back in 1989.

eileeninmd said...

Hello, awesome post and photos On your Berlin visit. The Holocust Memorial is a sobering place. Berlin has much history, I hope a history that is never repeated. Thanks for sharing your trip, wonderful photos. Enjoy your day, have a great new week!

Fun60 said...

I have been to Berlin and like you I was mystified by the Holocaust memorial. It did not bring on any feelings of reflection.

William Kendall said...

It might well be that repeated visits to the Holocaust Memorial might be required to get it.


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I love painting, writing, travelling and photography. My favorit models are cats which I observe with fun and humor. I am German, married to an Italian and we live in Waterloo (15 km from Brussels) / Belgium since many years. Waterloo is a famous place to many tourists, because Napoleon lost his battle here against Wellington and other European countries.


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