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.
to be continued..Cris