Berlin is one of the world’s great capitals—not only the seat of government, but a culture capital par excellence. The city offers the opportunity to enjoy high-quality musical performances alongside Germany’s fascinating, complex history and a trove of important art treasures. Yet Berlin faces firmly toward the future, with a thriving contemporary art and performance scene. Some of my favorite Berlin cultural tips:
The Reichstag: Berlin's parliament building was virtually destroyed at the end of World War II but has been carefully restored, leaving celebratory graffiti from Russian soldiers intact. The crowning glory of any Reichstag tour (Mon Voyage will book your visit many months ahead!) is a walk inside Norman Foster's soaring, symbolic glass dome.
The Pergamon: Important collections of classical antiquities, ancient Near East antiquities, and Islamic art are housed here at the flagship institution of Berlin's Museuminsel. Its undisputed treasures are the breathtaking Pergamon Altar and Nebuchadnezzar's fanciful Ishtar Gate. Museum Island is home to several of Berlin's heavy museum hitters. In addition to the Pergamon, the Alte Nationalgalerie is here and features an excellent collection of 19th century painting and sculpture.
The DDR Museum: A thoughtfully-presented and sometimes humorous look at life in communist East Berlin. Even more interesting after a visit to the Reichstag or the remains of the Berlin Wall. The ballerina above is relaxing in one of Berlin's loveliest public squares, the Gendarmenmarkt. It's a terrific place to stand and take in your elegant and historic surroundings before venturing over to Museum Island.
The Berlinische Galerie features works by artists associated with the city in the modern era, from photography to sculpture to architecture and beyond. You'll also find museums devoted to David Hasselhof, The Ramones, and enfant terrible fashion photographer Helmut Newton.
Staatsoper Unter den Linden: This is but one of several major opera houses in Berlin! Home to some of the continent's finest ballet and opera productions, the Staatsoper was recently renovated to its historic glory. The other Berlin opera hotspots are Deutsche Oper and Komische Oper.
Music lovers should also not miss the Philharmonie, the controversial-looking but splendid-sounding home to the renowned Berlin Philharmonic; free lunchtime recitals are sometimes held in the foyer.
No matter where your feet carry you in Berlin, keep an eye out for the engraved brass "stumbling stones" that memorialize Holocaust victims on the sidewalks in front of their last freely chosen residence or workplace. These tiny but potent remembrances note the date the victim was deported as well as the camp name; the date and location of their death at the hands of the Third Reich are also listed.
Mon Voyage is French for "My Trip"--and your trip is all about you: your travel style, your interests, your budget.
I plan customized travel itineraries for history, arts, and culture enthusiasts to destinations in Europe and beyond. I also offer escorted Small Group Trips, where you will engage with other curious travelers as we explore the world together.
Let's make that dream trip to Berlin come to life! Contact me today if I can help you with Germany or any other travel planning, domestic or international.
Last but not least: never forget that looking forward to travel has been scientifically proven to be good for your mental health!