Berlin, known for it’s complicated history and vibrant streets. I would describe it as eccentric, always interesting, and educationally enriching. We landed in Berlin in the morning and hit the ground running, per usual, starting our day at Alexanderplatz, the largest square in Berlin. There we saw the famous TV Tower and World Clock.
We walked past Rotes Rathaus and St. Nicholas Church on our way to Berlin Cathedral. The tour was well worth it as we climbed to the top for a scenic view. The stairs may have been tiring but the overlook of the city was incredible. After we worked up an appetite, we headed to Gendarmenmarkt for lunch, but were disappointed to find the food stalls closed. Luckily, we found a little restaurant nearby for our first German meal. As Ben delighted himself with bratwurst and sauerkraut I enjoyed flammkuchen, which is essentially German pizza. It was delicious!
Then we were off to Museum Island. We had it set on our list to visit Pergamonmuseum, Neues Museum, and Altes Museum but with little time and closed exhibitions, we decided to head to the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe instead and spend more time there. It was a sobering experience as we listened to the stories and looked at the portraits of families that were torn apart and murdered during World War II. As a child I had an odd fascination with the Holocaust. I wanted to know all about it, often reading books and watching movies to learn more. I thought I knew what there was to know, yet everywhere we went I learned a little bit more about the history, the stories, the heartache. It is unfathomable the amount of destruction and evil that occured.
The educational center of the memorial was underground, and above was covered with 2,711 concrete slabs forming rows upon rows of seemingly abstract gravestones. The artist of the installation, architect Peter Eisenman, stated that they are “designed to produce an uneasy, confusing atmosphere, and the whole sculpture aims to represent a supposedly ordered system that has lost touch with human reason.” Standing between the towering concrete gave just that effect.
After leaving the memorial site, we walked past Brandenburg Gate towards the Reichstag Building, a building with a long history. We headed up to the dome to look over the city at sunset and the beauty of it all made you forget that it was a city torn apart by war and politics, with the Berlin Wall just falling in 1991. It may seem like forever ago, but in reality, it hasn’t been that long. As the sun set beneath the capital city, we headed off to a late dinner at Ständige Vertretung.