Berlin“Checkpoint Charlie”, “Berlin Wall”, “Iron Curtain”. To most, Berlin is simply known for its role within the relatively short Cold War era. And the division of the city from 1945 to 1990 did indeed shape its looks from some narrow streets that don’t accommodate today’s traffic in the city’s center to the newly built Potsdamer Platz neighborhood, former no-mans-land. By German standards, the city is relatively young, a mere 800 years of age. But along with adjacent Potsdam and its Sanssouci Palace, it developed to be the political center of Prussia, the strongest of Germany’s many kingdoms and principalities until the 19th century.
After Germany’s reunification in 1990, the whole of Berlin became the country’s capital again. All the city’s sites are easily accessible now, most of which are located in the formerly Eastern part. From the Brandenburg Gate, close to the Reichstag building that houses the German federal parliament, stroll down Unter den Linden Boulevard that lines many of the historic buildings, towards the city’s second landmark, the Television Tower at Alexanderplatz. You’ll pass by one of Berlin’s major tourist magnets, the Museums Island with its collections of art and culture, the most famous of which are the Ancient Greek Pergamon Altar (from today’s Turkey) and the Ishtar Gate of Babylon, originally considered one of the Seven Wonders of the World. You’ll also come across the Berlin Cathedral, the Protestant counterpart to St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
One of the splended buildings on Unter den Linden boulevard houses Humboldt University of Berlin, named after Wilhelm von Humboldt, a son of this city, one of the representatives for Enlightenment and scientific development, and brother of Alexander von Humboldt, the famous natural scientist and explorer.
For one of the world’s most important collections of European paintings, see the Berlin Gemäldegalerie, not far from Potsdamer Platz. Modern history is accessible through numerous museums, sites, and tours for all ages, from Berlin’s Underworld to the East Side Gallery and the Olympic Stadium.
Today Berlin continues to be a hub for contemporary arts. New Berliners from all around the world are currently reshaping the central neighborhoods of this city that caters to everyone through workspaces, cultural centers, a diverse café and restaurant scene – and possibly the world’s most vibrant night life.
The Egyptian MuseumIn the 15th century, the reconquista gained momentum when Queen Isabella I of Castile and King Ferdinand II of Aragon were married in 1469. After 1482 they closed in on the Nasrids - and in 1492 Granada fell. The winners took over... ?
Portrait Bust of NefertitiOne of the world’s most famous works of art, the bust of Akhenaten’s queen has never been restored since it was found in 1912 by Ludwig Borchardt in the studio of Thutmose. Here the Chief Sculptor doesn’t show an ideal beauty but a very real person…
▶ The Berlin Egyptian Museum▶ Amarna
The Green HeadA close look at this world-famous masterpiece shows that it’s artistic quality goes beyond all normality. It is exceptionally lifelike - but we don’t know just who it is that we’re looking at; or even when and where the sculpture was created…
▶ The Berlin Egyptian Museum▶ Egypt
A Walk in the GardenIn art from Amarna, the bond between man and woman often symbolizes the harmony between god and the world. This can include subtle erotics – and in this relief, the surpising depiction of a disability. Does it show Akhenaten’s son Tutankhamun and his wife?
▶ The Berlin Egyptian Museum▶ Amarna
The PergamonmuseumIn the 15th century, the reconquista gained momentum when Queen Isabella I of Castile and King Ferdinand II of Aragon were married in 1469. After 1482 they closed in on the Nasrids - and in 1492 Granada fell. The winners took over... ?
The Pergamon AltarThe great Altar of Zeus is an unmatched masterpiece of Hellenistic art. Built by King Eumenes the Second in 170 B.C., the frieze depicts the “Clash of the Titans”: the gods of the Olymp, led by Zeus and Athene, fight the sons of Gaea, the Earth Mother.
▶ The Collection of Classical Antiquities, Berlin▶ Bergama
Aleppo RoomIn 1600, Isa ben Butrus, a Christian merchant, had his reception room painted with an abundance of scenes. Reminiscent of Ottoman book illuminations, they portray themes that are at once part of the canon of images of Christianty, Judaism and Islam.
▶The Museum of Islamic Art▶ Aleppo
BabylonMost powerful city on earth, symbol for greatness and excess, rulers like Nebuchadnezzar, Hammurabi and Belshazzar: few names unleash such a flood of associations as Babylon. And then of course, there’s the Tower of Babel. Did it actually exist…?
▶ The Museum of the Ancient Near East, Berlin▶ Babylon
A Genius conquers EuropeWhat story does the wood a picture is painted on tell us? Albrecht Dürer was the great Master of German Renaissance and, at the time, Europe‘s most famous artist. His masterworks include a portrait of the wealthy merchant Holzschuher that shows all his genius.
▶ The Berlin Gemäldegalerie▶ Nuremberg
Revolution in Light and ShadowMichelangelo Merisi was a drunkard and a thug accused of murder – but he was also one of the most brilliant artists of his time, known as Caravaggio. With his outrageously naturalistic and dramatic “chiaroscuro” style, he invented Baroque painting…
▶ The Berlin Gemäldegalerie▶ Rome
Refinement in VisionA group of painters from the city of Utrecht were influenced by Caravaggio and in turn influenced one of their colleagues: Rembrandt, one of the greatest painters ever. But he didn’t paint the “Man With the Golden Helmet” - as gamma rays reveal…
▶ The Berlin Gemäldegalerie▶ Amsterdam