Next day we decided to explore the Mitte area, the most historical area in Berlin: from our hotel, we crossed Oranienburgerstrasse, where You can find some interesting buildings, such as the “Postfuhramt” – it was an ancient stable with two hundred horses employed to delivery mail – and the “Neue Synagoge”, the largest synagogue in the world, completed in 1866, but sadly set on fire during Kristallnacht in 1938, and after also damaged in 1943 by air raids. It was reconstructed starting from 1987.
We continued to the Sprea island (Museumsinsel), where are located many international museum of the city. The history of Museum Island started with King Frederick William III who, in 1810, commissioned the creation of a public museum on Spree Island. In 1822 Karl Friedrich Schinkel drew up plans to develop the island, and a first museum building, the Royal Museum – nowadays the Altes Museum – opened in 1830. The museum was built to allow the general public to view the royal art treasures of Prussia. The other museum were established during XIX century. Sadly, most of these buildings were destroyed during World War II and, after the conflict, the collections were split up between East and West Berlin. After German reunification the collections were brought together again and a masterplan was drawn up, to not only restore all five museums but also expand and modernize the museum complex.
We took the chance to visit the Pergamon Museum, where you’ll find a remarkable collection of Greek, Roman and Babylonian antiquities. Highlights include impressive monuments such as the Ishtar Gate of Babylon, the Market gate of Miletus and the enormous Pergamon Altar. It’s really impressive to see such kind of artifacts included in closed rooms, with for example, Ishtar Gate that nearly reach the ceiling.
After the visit, we took a stroll around the Museum complex: crossing the colonnade, You’ll reach the Dom, Berlin’s main cathedral, that was built at the end of the XVIII century as a protestant counterpart of the St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. The cathedral is lavishly decorated in the Baroque style.
The basement of the cathedral holds the Hohenzollern family crypt. It contains more than ninety sarcophagi, including that of Frederick William, the Great Elector.
If You don’t have fear of heights, you can climb to the dome and enjoy a great view on the rooftops of the city.
The garden in front of the Dom is called “Lustgarten”. The garden was originally created as an exotic garden for Princess Luise, spouse of the Great Elector. King Frederick William I, the so-called ‘Soldier-King’, turned the garden into a military parade ground. Here you find Altes Museum, reopened in 1966 as a museum of contemporary art, it houses nowadays ancient Greek and Roman antiquities. The building resembles infact a Greek Ionic Temple.
to be continued..Cris
I’m not sure about where I have to start speaking of Berlin. In February I leaved without many expectations to visit it for the first time, so I admit I’ve been taken by surprise from this city. What do you think first about Berlin? Probably the first things you remember are historical events: Second World War, the cold War, the fall of the Berlin Wall…and so on.
What can I say is: you’ll find in Berlin all of these, but also much more. Strolling throught the streets of the several quarters, you’ll perceive the many souls of the city: there is a Renaissance Berlin; a contemporary one; a place where abstract and graffiti art have significance; a city which offers ideas in many fields, sometimes alternative and still a bit subversive.
Personally I was surprised by the capability of this city not to succumb to the shadows of its past: Berlin could have eclipse after the destruction and the senseless violence of the war: ever since the creation of a unified Germany in 1871, the nation’s tumultuous history has had a profound impact on the history of its capital Berlin.
Many historic neighborhoods and monuments were destroyed during the Second World War, but since the reunification after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, historic areas like Potsdamer Platz and Pariser Platz have been completely revamped. Nowadays, Berlin is once again one of Europe’s main cities: lively, dynamic and inviting.
With the following posts, I’ll retrace my steps and accompany you across some of the salient points of Berlin, starting right now from the Castle of Charlottenburg. We arrived in the afternoon, and we started right away our exploration from this western district, even if we couldn’t visit the inside of the residence.
This is the biggest historical palace left after the Second World War in Berlin, though burned to the ground during the Second World War but it has been completely reconstructed. The palace was built at the end of the 17th century and was greatly expanded during the 18th century. It includes much exotic internal decoration in baroque and rococo styles. A large garden surrounded by woodland was added behind the palace.
Originally commissioned by Sophie Charlotte, wife of Friedrich III, and built as a modest summer residence, the Schloss still nowadays show the grandeur of the Hohenzollern dynasty who for centuries ruled over Prussia.
The central and oldest part of the palace is the domed Altes Schloss (Old Palace) Here you can visit the apartments of Frederick I and Queen Sophie Charlotte. The rooms are decorated in a sumptuous Baroque style with plenty of stucco, wood paneling, gilded ornaments and frescoes. Other interesting rooms include the Oval Room, which looks out over the garden; the opulent Schlosskapelle, a chapel with an impressive royal box; and the Porcelain Chamber, laden with more than two thousand pieces of Chinese porcelain.
to be continued…
“Per visitare Berlino bisogna saper vedere anche quello che non c’è più e saper intuire una ingannevole realtà. Qui gli eventi sono cicatrici sul volto della storia, ma la loro capacità evocativa è intatta. A Berlino nulla resta più visibile di ciò che si cerca di cancellare.”
“To visit Berlin must be able to see what is not here anymore, and be able to grasp a deceptive reality. Here events are scars on the face of history, but their evoking ability is unaltered. In Berlin nothing remains more visible than what you are trying to delete.”
(Johann Bernhard Merian)