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Germany 

Berlin is Germany's largest and most cosmopolitan city as well as the country's historic capital. Berlin is one of the most influential centers in European politics, culture and science. The rapidly evolving metropolis enjoys an international reputation for its festivals, contemporary architecture, nightlife, and avant-garde arts. Being a major tourist center and home to people from over 180 nations, Berlin is a focal point for individuals who are attracted by its liberal lifestyle, urban eclecticism, and artistic freedom. Furthermore, city is also full of reminders of its place in Germany's turbulent past.

Located in the heart of the Berlin-Brandenburg metropolitan region in northeastern Germany, Berlin is a Federal state in its own right, and in fact is the second most populous city in the European Union with a population of 3.4 million. First documented in the 13th century, Berlin became successively the capital of the Kingdom of Prussia (from 1701), the German Empire (1871-1918), the Weimar Republic (1919-1932) and the Third Reich (1933-1945). After World War II, the city was divided. East Berlin became the capital of the GDR (East Germany), while West Berlin remained a West German enclave surrounded by the Berlin Wall from 1961-1989. Following the reunification in 1990, the city regained its status as the capital of all Germany.

The city serves as an important hub of continental transportation and is home to some of the most prominent universities, sport events, orchestras, and museums. Its economy is based on the service sector, encompassing a diverse range of media and life science corporations, convention venues, research institutes, and creative industries.

Overview

Berlin offers a wonderful combination of history, night life, architecture and culture. There is no city in Europe that parties harder than Berlin. The nightlife of most cities is tame in comparison to this city. There are lots of great clubs and dance parlors, just ask around for the best places. The Berliners are often friendly and extremely helpful, although you may also encounter the famous "Berliner Schnauze," a certain brusqueness that can seem rude.

Most of the usual good places to go are in the center of Berlin (Mitte, Prenzlauer Berg, Kreuzberg), but the eastern part of the city has all the nightlife. Berlin is also perhaps one of the greenest cities in Europe: over 60% of its surface area is either a park or a river... it even has more bridges than Venice!

Berlin has an amazing number of sights, although it is not as centralized or small as other European cities. Sometimes the best things about it have nothing to do with landmarks: simply strolling along one of hundreds of charming streets complete with cafés is pleasurable enough.

Only fifteen years ago Berlin was the divided city, the Janus head of Germany, the symbol of the collapse of the German Empire and of the tensions between East and West in the Cold War. It has now become an even more powerful symbol of the reunion of the two Germanies and of one people.

Berlin has always been on the cutting edge and today it’s architecture and construction is one of it main striking features. Architects from all over the world have designed projects ranging from government buildings and corporate headquarters to luxury hotels and apartments. For the moment though cranes are the dominant feature of the city’s skyline. Even the famous Reichstag has been redesigned to make way for the Bundestag or parliament. The bend in the river known as the Spreebogen is the site where the new chancellory and government offices are being built. Much attention is focused on Potsdamer Platz too where Mercedes Benz and Sony have located their corporate headquarters. Most building is concentrated in former West Berlin, which leaves the eastern part relatively untouched. There’s been a lot of cleaning up here too, but the building here is still in human proportions, and there are still lots of interesting buildings from an architectural point of view.

The Berlin Wall built by the East Germans in August 1961 fell down in November 1989. Germany was reunified in October 1990 and now only a small part of the wall remains as a memorial. The wall area, once a cleared and deserted trace through the city is now the location where multinationals fight each other to build the most ambitious headquarters in steel, glass and tones of concrete. They all want to be part of the rebirth of this metropolis, with all kinds of people and small businesses who want to be a witness in their wake. To house all the newcomers, Berlin, and especially Berlin Mitte, changed temporarily into a building pit. When the wall was up, Berlin had an intense cultural life, which attracted artists from all over the world. And though the real subversive scenes all have toned down a bit, it’s still a hotpot of radical ideas.

Most of the wall has been taken away but a stretch still stands along Mühlenstrasse near the Ostbahnhof. With the Wall gone it’s not always easy to tell where the actual border was that once separated East from West. This makes it hard to orientate your self within the city. In Berlin there have always been different centers, but the division by the wall amplified the differences between separate neighborhoods and made the city into an urban archipelago. We have put info relating to going out, eating out and shopping under the different quarters of the city.

Berlin Mitte is the heart of the city pulsating 24 hours a day. It’s the nightlife focal point, the shopping summit and with the Museum Island, cabaret, concerts theatres and cinemas it has a great deal to offer for the cultural interested visitor. Oranienburger Straße with its long-established pubs and party locations, is the tourist area of Berlin.

The famous park Tiergarten is located inCharlottenburg. If you want to get away from the city crowds you can get your breath here. This is also the area in the Kurfürstendamm, Savignyplatz, Ludwigkirchplatz and Olivaer Platz are located with high end shops on one hand and numerous bars, pubs and clubs on the other.

The old working-class district Friedrichshain, south of Karl-Marx-Allee in former East Berlin, is worth discovering. It became a student’s neighborhood since the rents in Kreuzberg catapulted after the unification. If you like places with rather austere charm where style isn't so important and prices are rock bottom, Friedrichshain is just the right district for you.Right by the Oberbaumbrücke, which offers a wonderful view across the Spree on both sides, is East Side Gallery, the longest remaining section of the Berlin Wall.

Kreuzberg, once an alternative squatters, punks, students and immigrants quarter, has quite moved up the marked and has become hip and trendy. Elegant eating and drinking places have opened up alongside the countless döner stalls and restaurants. Today SO 36 stands for a mixture of posh things and things that live up to the rather tatty image of the Kreuzberg cliché. In Oranienstraße, the neighbourhood's main street, you cannot only sample every variety of international cuisine, you can also get a totally new outfit. You can buy fun T-shirts, club wear, military gear or clothes made of hemp.

The nightlife literally throbs and pulsates in the old working-class area between Schönhauser Allee and Prenzlauer Allee Prenzlauer Berg. At the moment this area is still an oasis of creative life - though some corners have already fallen prey to speculators.

Schoneberg inhabitants are known for their style, even if non-style is in, and have no trouble bridging the blatant lifestyle gap between Kreuzberg and Wilmersdorf. The whole area is full of places offering the best in modern living. Way-out shoes, exclusive antique shops, gracious interiors, elegant restaurants and erotic, innovative clothes.

Considering Berlin offers too various possibilities, we split some sections such as accommodation, eating out and nightlife into a district order. Please check as well: Berlin Mitte, Charlottenburg, Friedrichshain, Kreuzberg, Prenzlauer Berg and Schoneberg.


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