24 09 2007

Alexanderplatz (Alexander square) was once called Ochsenmarkt (ox market), but was named Alexanderplatz after a visit by the Russian Tsar Alexander in the beginning of the 19th century. Most of the buildings on the square were destroyed in WW2, and being in the center of East Berlin, the place was used as a showcase of Communist architecture. That means plain bulky buildings, and an enormous Television tower.

Part of Alexanderplatz from above.

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The Berlin Wall is Dying

16 09 2007

The East-Side Gallery is the only part of the original Berlin Wall that is still standing, relatively unharmed, with its beautiful historical graffiti on. Located in Friedrichshain, near the Ostbahnhof railway station, it is about 1,300 meters in length (0.8 miles), covered with over 100 paintings, some of which are real masterpieces.

When we went to see it, we were amazed at its poor condition, though. As it happened, except for a partial restoration project in 2000, the leftovers of the Berlin Wall and the East-Side Gallery were seriously neglected. Vandalism and corrosion did the rest. Read the rest of this entry »

Berlin Wall – East-Side Gallery

14 09 2007

The East-Side Gallery was created in 1990, during the first year after Berlin Wall’s collapse. Hundreds of artists from all over the world came to Berlin, and covered some 1300 meters of the remains of November 1989 events, with 106 stunning wall-paintings, most in a graffiti-like style. The paintings are said to reflect the artists’ thoughts and vision about the new era of peace in unified Berlin.
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The Berlin Wall

12 09 2007

The Berlin Wall (Berliner Mauer) was a separation barrier between East and West Germany, which divided Berlin for 28 years.

The Wall’s construction begun on August 13 1961 (funny, exactly 10 years before I was born) by the East German communist regime, as an “Anti-Fascist Protective Rampart”, and became an iconic symbol of the cold war.

There was an explicit shoot-to-kill order for attempting to escape to the West by going over the Wall, and some 125 people overall were killed trying.
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Strasse des 17. Juni (17th June Street)

6 09 2007

The 17th June Street is the western continuation of Unter den Linden, which runs east-west through Tiergarten. At its eastern end is the Brandenburg Gate, and at the western end is Ernst Reuter Platz in Charlottenburg.

17 Juni Strasse.

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Berlin Must-Sees: The Reichstag

30 08 2007

The Reichstag is the seat of the German Bundestag (federal government), near Brandenburg Gate at the west end of the Mitte quarter. It was constructed from 1884-1894 by the architect Paul Wallot. The inscription “Dem Deutschen Volke” was added in 1916, during WW1.

Dem Deutschen Volke.

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Berlin must-sees: Unter Den Linden

16 08 2007

Unter den Linden Boulevard stretches from Brandenburg Gate to Schlossbrücke (palace bridge), at the heart of Berlin’s Mitte quarter. It exists since 1573, but rose to importance under Friedrich the Great. The linden trees (lime) were cut down by Hitler’s order (he had very different plans for that place). The buildings were pretty much destroyed in WW2. Some were reconstructed, others built anew. The trees were of course planted again.

Unter den Linden.

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Berlin must-sees: Brandenburg Gate

4 08 2007

Brandenburg Gate (Brandenburger Tor) is one of the most prominent “trademarks” of Berlin. Located at the west end of Mitte quarter it is the only remaining city gate, and also became a symbol of the division of the city, because it was situated in the “no-man’s land” just behind the wall (click on the images to enlarge).

Brandenburg Gate and bear. Brandenburg Gate ruins.

Brandenburg Gate Quadriga. Brandenburg gate at night.

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Berlin and the Bear

27 07 2007

Berlin is a relatively young city in European terms, only around 750 years old. And since then, it is associated with the symbol of the bear.

Apparently, no one really knows where it came from. It first appeared in 1280, on a seal document (which depicted two upright bears with Brandenburg eagle in the center). Earlier, around 1150, there was some guy named Albert the Bear who inherited Berlin from its last Wendish king, as says the article about “the history of Berlin” in Wiki. Maybe he’s the source, who knows. Anyway, the Bear still stands proud as the city symbol and mascot, and appears on its flag.

Berlin flag.

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United Buddy Bears

27 07 2007

In our first visit to Berlin, as we walked through the city, we occasionally came across a large fiberglass bear standing near an occasional embassy. Here’s one:

Yonit and a friend.

We knew the official symbol of the city is a Bear, so we didn’t put much thought into it. And then, one day, we came across this: Read the rest of this entry »