Berlin might not be the most aesthetic city in Europe, but there's still
plenty to get the tourist cameras snapping. Monuments of Prussian
grandeur rub shoulders with reminders of a divided country alongside
stunning new architectural developments. And if you're out of luck with
the weather, there's always the city's many museums to check out.
With more than 150 museums, Berlin is the perfect city for wet-weather
sightseeing. From the huge state run archaeological and art collections
to more specialised quirky exhibitions, there is something here for
everyone´s area of interest, whether it be Islamic Art, sugar, police
history, piano manufacture or homosexual life .
10 years after the reunification, Berlin´s state museums are still
trying to regain their world class reputation, badly damaged by the
effects of the Second World War and 40 years of division between East
and West. There is now every chance that this goal will be fulfilled,
since the allocation in April of 2 billion Deutschmarks of state and
city funds to carry out the museums 'Masterplan'. At the centre of this
plan is the refurbishment of the Museum Island (Museumsinsel), which was
declared a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site in March 2000. Over the
next 10 years, the five museums on this site are to be upgraded and
connected by underground walkways, to enable the visitor to cover
6,000-odd years of cultural and art history in one quick jog around the
block. In addition to the Pergamon Museum (archaeology/Islamic art/Near
East) and the Altes Museum (Greek and Roman art), the complex will
include the Bode Museum (sculpture/Byzantine art, reopening 2005), and
the Alte Nationalgalerie (19th century art, reopening 2001).
The Neues Museum, which was left ruined and unused after the war, is to
house the collections from the Egyptian Museum and the Museum of
Primeval and Early History in Charlottenburg after its projected
reopening in 2008. All this turmoil means that, like much of the rest of
Berlin, construction and renovation work can often disrupt the best-laid
plans of travellers and sight-seers - always check opening hours/years
beforehand to avoid disappointment.
Berlin was the capital of Prussia until 1945 and the capital of
Germany between 1871 and 1945 and again since the reunification of
Germany on October 3, 1990. (The German parliament, called Bundestag,
and the German government moved from Bonn to Berlin in 1999.) Between
1949 and 1990, it was divided into East Berlin, the capital of the
German Democratic Republic, and West Berlin. It was divided by the
Berlin Wall between August 13, 1961, and November 9, 1989.
Berlin (berlin.de, in German)
Berlin is the capital and the biggest city of Germany. It has a
population of about 3.5 million and extends over 889 square kilometers.
It is located in central Europe, longitude 13:25 E, latitude 52:32 N, 34
m above sea level, at the rivers Spree and Havel.