In many ways, Kreuzberg has come to define present-day Berlin. Unapologetically gritty, Kreuzberg is what other cities try to be when they 'experiment' with the alternative (usually pre-gentrification) community art projects. But in Kreuzberg, the art is effortless, organic and everywhere; integrated within the very fabric of the neighbourhood.
One of Berlin's biggest tourist traps is worth a visit, if only to observe the slightly absurd, but entirely self-aware spectacle of watching tourists pose for pictures with men dressed in military costumes. What used to be a US Army Checkpoint to control movement of people between East and West Berlin, is today a monument to the Cold War, appropriately flanked by a glittering McDonalds in the background.
Berlin has plenty of museums (one has to choose only couple of them, else more than a week time is required to explore all), we chose Pergamon museum, an amazing one, it took about 3-4 hours to explorer the museum. One can plan visit by using this link: http://www.smb.museum/en/museums-institutions/pergamonmuseum/plan-your-visit/adress.html.
Straße des 17. Juni
Straße des 17 JuniOnce the sightseeing at Bellevue palace is done you can take the Bus number 100 again to head towards Brandenburger Tor. I would rather suggest to take a walk along Straße des 17 Juni. This historical road connecting the highlights of Berlin comes with a dose of history and gives you a chance to understand the history behind the city.
It claims to offer "advanced urban clubbing", which perhaps means Berlin's ongoing shift from repurposed shabby-chic venues to smarter, New York-style joints is well under way. What's true is that Ashpalt is a swanky boîte in the basement of one of Mitte's business hotels, with an attractive restaurant attached. Its feel is distinctly American, while the music veers towards goodtime disco and up-tempo house rather than minimal techno. Local hero Hugo Capablanca plays regularly, as do other residents from King Size, the hip bar not too far away on Friedrichstrasse. Less intimidating than Berghain, more central than Watergate, Asphalt is staking a claim to coolness in the heart of tourist Berlin
White Trash Fast Food
Despite its reputation, there's more to Berlin life than minimal techno – as White Trash Fast Food proves. This is a self-consciously over-styled all-in-one burger joint, tattoo parlour, tiki shack and smoking cinema – a hangout for rock'n'rollers seeking 50s retro, rockabilly, surf, garage and punk sounds along with newer guitar-based blues music (think The Strokes, White Stripe and Kitty, Daisy & Lewis). Book ahead for a dinner table, and then head to the basement bar to kick out the jams. Prepare to dress up – the waiting staff look like extras from Happy Days – if it had been directed by John Waters that is.
CLUB DER VISIONAERE
Club Der Visionaere – a collection of canal side shacks near the Spree in Kreuzberg – is the destination for those who never want the party to end. True to the Berlinische insistence of relaxation, it's an understated, marginal kind of place where clubbers hang out on post-party weekend mornings or afternoons. The default soundtrack of minimal techno was imprinted here when Richie Hawtin and Ricardo Villalobos held their residencies (they no longer do), and though the hipster crowd can get excitable on Saturday nights, CdV makes most sense on those wasted, sunlit hours when work seems a long way away.
Egyptian Museum of Berlin
Our next stop was the Egyptian Museum adjacent to the Residence. They claim it is the only museum in the world to focus entirely on Egyptian art. Having been to Egypt, this is an incredible declaration on their part, forcing us to investigate their honestly. The generic museum brochure states offers that the collection is an overview of all period of history, with dazzling exhibits. Truly, once we entered, we were dazzled and beyond. The exhibits were breathtaking. So many pieces were magnificently intact, boggling one's mind as to how they could stay so well preserved over all of these centuries.
A Berlin clubbing institution now in its sixth venue in 15 years, Cookies offers the best of underground house and disco in its central room, plus a more varied playlist, from indie to hip-hop, in its smaller second room. A more glamorous, uptown experience than its counterparts, this is nevertheless an organic, family-and-friends enterprise: DJs include local spinners as well as fancy imports from clubs such as the old Paradise Garage in New York. Mature partygoers book a table at its upstairs restaurant, though leaving the dance floor before 6am is not the done thing. Make no mistake, Cookies is about partying hard.
This is an elegant bar/lounge in Mitte for 'grown ups.' At least that's what founder Till Harter (the man behind 103) had in mind for Tausend, a high-design, upscale establishment. Try a bracing Wasabi cocktail in summer or a malt whiskey served with local pine honey in winter. Go late, look sharp. With Tausend's unmarked entrance – look for the iron door under the train overpass – and strict entrance policy, it's also as exclusive as Berlin gets. Here's where the well-heeled see and are seen while sipping innovative drinks in a tubular, steel-ceiling interior lit by eerily eye-like 3D installations.
Wilhelm Hoeck Inh. Karin Isermann e.K.
Opened in 1892, Gaststätte Hoeck (Wilhelm Hoeck) is considered the oldest pub in Berlin. The atmosphere testifies to this with old wooden panels and antique bottles scattered about. The place is warm and welcoming as ever. Cocktails and even fine cuisine are here for the asking.
Tourists flock to the adjacent Fernsehturm TV tower for views across the city, but Berlin's clubbers know the best view comes at dawn when sunlight bursts through the windows of the Haus des Reisens, the former Soviet tower block that contains Weekend. Now open on the 12th and 15th floors with a roof terrace bar too, the sensationally successful Weekend has taken Berlin's underground rave scene and hoisted it into the stratosphere. Popular with easy jetters seeking cheap thrills, it hosts credible house and techno acts – look out for spots from Tiefschwarz and Jazzanova's Dixon, British expat producer Ewan Pearson and avant-techno stars such as Trentmøller.
Berlin Wall Memorial
Everybody knows the history of Berlin wall, it divided the country into East Germany and West Germany. The Wall was a 155km-long symbol of oppression that turned West Berlin into an island of democracy within a sea of socialism. There’s a memorial in the spot where Peter Fechter died on Zimmerstrasse. Wondering who is Peter Fechter? Well, he was a German bricklayer, He was about 18 when he became the first vitcim of Berlin wall's border guards who tried to cross over to reach West Germany. The tour begins from East side gallery to Bernauer Strasse. It is an open-air art exhibition on the banks of river Spree. There are more memorials of the wall victims just to the South of Reichstag on the eastern of Scheidemannstrasse. There are bike tours that guide you along part of the wall. There's 160km-long Berliner Mauerweg signpost, they have created a path for walking and cycling.
A split-level, Spree-side destination for Kreuzberg's natives and visiting house and techno fans, Watergate enjoys a terrace overlooking the river and the majestic Oberbaumbrücke right in the heart of hipster heaven. Upstairs guests find techno sounds from homegrown talent such as Panpot and Sebo K, and Detroit royalty including Kenny Larkin, while the downstairs "Waterfloor" offers up-and-coming talent. A combination of hardcore sweatbox and spangly disco locale (the under floor lighting helps), Watergate is among the best on Berlin's thriving club circuit
The Newton Bar is one of the classiest places in Berlin for a casual drink. Named for famed photographer Helmut Newton, the bar exudes style from ever corner, and even from the risqué full-length print it is famous for. Old school ambiance, fine cigars, exquisite cognac, what else is there? The place always attracts a mixed crowd of tourists and locals to revel in a superb selection of cocktails and other indulgences. This is indeed a very special place to relax.
Filmpark Babelsberg takes you straight into a state-of-the-art film set for a glimpse behind the scenes. If you are a film-geek, you'd relish walking through what was the world's first movie-studio of its scale and was the epicentre of European filmmaking when it first opened in 1912. The Hunger Games and Captain America: Civil War were filmed in Babelsberg, along with films like The Pianist and Inglorious Bastards.
Old National Gallery (Alte Nationalgalerie)
The Alte National Galerie (Old national gallery) houses one of the most important collections of 19th century painting in Germany and includes masterpieces by Caspar David Friedrich, Adolph Menzel Edouard Manet Claude Monet, not to mention Auguste Renoir and Auguste Rodin. The Alte National Galerie is one of the five museums forming the ensemble known as Berlin’s Museum Island – a UNESCO World Heritage site. The architect Stüler, his building resembles a Greek temple. Sculptures on the tympanum show Germania, the personification of the German nation, as a patron of the arts. The temple is raised and rests on an enormous pedestal. Massive steps outside the neoclassical-style building lead to a platform in front of the portico. The Old National Gallery is most well-known for its fine collection of nineteenth-century paintings. The Alte Nationalgalerie also boasts the world's largest collection of works by Adolph von Menzel, one of the most prominent German artists of the nineteenth century. The museum also has a collection of statues, including many works from German sculptors Christian Daniel Rauch, Johann Gottfried Schadow and Reinhold Begas. There are also some bronzes by Auguste Rodin on display.
The Berlin Wall used to run right through this park, now a focus for street art. Graffiti artists are given free rein on a 300m stretch of wall that is still standing. Their work is ever-changing, sometimes politically minded, but always thrillingly cutting-edge. The park is also home to flea markets and barbecues.
Victory Column (Siegessaule)
The Victory Column is a monument in Berlin, Germany. Designed by Heinrich Strack. It is one of the best symbols of Berlin. It is known as "Golden Lizzie" in Berlin slang. The reason for its being built was Prussia’s victory in the German-Danish war in 1864. The 8.3 metre high bronze sculpture weighing 35 tonnes, which was created by Friedrich Drake, represents Victoria wearing a helmet and holding a laurel wreath in one hand and, in the other, a staff bearing an iron cross. The victory goddess Victoria from Roman mythology is analogous to the Greek equivalent of Nike. Her eagle helmet also lets Victoria appear as Borussia, the female personification of Prussia. The 285 steps of the spiral staircase inside the Victory Column don't lead to the spindle and a hundred years of slumber, you will however need to be rather determined and fit to climb the tapering staircase. The base is decorated with large bronze reliefs that depict scenes from the wars. The colonnade above the base is decorated with a mosaic frieze created by Anton von Werner. It depicts the Liberation Wars and subsequent unification of Germany in 1871. The statue represents the Goddess of Victory, but Berliners affectionately call her Goldelse.
If you're looking for a place to really get yourself going, try the Berghain/Panorama Bar. In a meticulously re-purposed former power station, these separate but connected club spaces of the Panorama Bar is open all weekend; the bigger Berghain is open only on Saturdays. Combined, Berghain/Panorama Bar is simply the best club in Berlin. The door policy is savage, but inside you'll find a spectacular interior and a sexually charged, anything-goes atmosphere that pulses to a world-class sound system. Powered by some of Europe's finest techno DJs, this is Berlin decadence, 21st-century style.
The one sight that is worth mentioning is the Holocaust Memorial. The last time we were here, it was still in construction. When I first saw the completed creation, I thought it was a waste of space, money, and an insult to the ideals it was meant to honor. A grand square block is filled with rectangular, dark depression moon gray solid blocks of varying heights. They are set in rows that have paths through both horizontally and vertically. The paths are undulating, so as you walk you are rising and descending amongst these massive columns. I set off walking, while Ron took off in another direction. I was ready to continue to criticize this monumental failure as I walked, but something transformed me as I did. With each step of disappearing behind extremely high columns and reappearing with the shorter ones, I gained a sense of walking, wakeful meditation. I felt a peace surround me. Each column then represented a person from the Holocaust each telling their own story as I walked by their life path, sharing with me their tale of sorrow. In some aisles, I was all alone while in others I could see another at a distance, many columns away. I felt a connection with these strangers as we listened to what secrets were being shared.
Central Apartments Berlin
Berlin to me, was more a person than a city. It has the attributes of a rebel, that has struggled to become its own person. The sense of place and history in Berlin is very strong. A lot of our time was spent exploring the recent past - the Second World War, the Berlin Wall, rise and fall of the Soviet regime in East Berlin. The city is also a great (and cheap!) place to shop , eat and drink. <br /><br />The city is filled with little streets and alleyways that are sites of bars and restaurants enclosed by graffiti and poster covered walls. <br /><br />The city never fails to surprise.
Absynth Depot is a bar/shop that obviously caters to those in search of the rare and ultimately powerful drink of the same name. The legendary "green fairy" of Absynth was made famous by the artists like Van Gogh who partook of the spirit. This quaint shop offers some 60 varieties of the spellbinding stuff. The prices here are pretty high, and service is not really at a premium either, but for the perfect exhilaration the essence imparts, this is the place to experience it. But be careful, too much and exhilaration can turn to lopping off one's own ear.
We favored East Berlin. We loved its pub and restaurant lined streets in the Friedrichshain community. It was vibrant in the evening without a clique type vibe that you can get in some trendy areas in other cities. People were enjoying food along the table lined sidewalks, chatting and laughing. Others enjoyed watching the soccer game that was televised from inside some of the restaurants. Open alcohol is most definitely allowed on the streets and in the malls…and everywhere, which is a shock for someone from North America. But it was definitely a welcomed change in culture.
One of Berlin's premier jazz clubs, Quasimodo has a variety of music for you to enjoy. Latin, rock and more are offered here almost nightly. Stop by in the middle of the week and you'll find local acts performing. Quasimodo is also an integral part of the summer festival, Jazz in July, making it a great place to hang out if you're visiting Berlin in the summer.
Harry's New York Bar
Located in the Grand Hotel Esplanade Harry's New York Bar is one of Berlin's most famous bars. Cocktails here are so superb this is one bar actually famous for them. An elegant venue, also expect live music to the tune of the bar's piano. Mixologists at Harry's build classic Martini's beneath the portraits of US presidents while a jazzman tinkles on the piano.