Highlights of Berlin

Highlights of Berlin

When the victorious German National Soccer team returned to Berlin on 15 July 2014 from Brazil with the 2014 FIFA (`Federation Internationale de Football Association`) World Cup trophy more than half a million crowd of cheering fans in black, red and gold (national colours of Germany) made their way to Brandenburg Gate to welcome the champions and celebrate the country`s fourth title victory.

Brandenburg Gate (Brandenburger Tor) is the famous venue for huge street celebrations in Berlin, the capital city of Germany. One of the most well-known landmarks of Germany and one of Berlin`s most important monuments, the Gate is Germany`s equivalent to the `Arc de Triomphe` in Paris, France or to `Rua Augusta Arco` in Lisbon, Portugal which are also both spectacular. Situated by the Gate is the pedestrian square, Pariser Platz, always crowded with tourists trying to get a perfect shot of the arc.

A neo-classical arc constructed between 1778 and 1791 the gate is dominated by the `quadriga`, the four-horse drawn chariot driven by the goddess of victory and peace, Victoria.

On our German tour the Gate, together with the Berlin Wall, is high on our priority list of the top ten sightseeing attractions Berlin has to offer.

The `city of cool` delivers incredible history and culture having its origin in the 13th century and having been the capital of the Kingdom of Prussia, the German Empire, the Weimar Republic, and the Reich.

A great part of German history was made here. It was here that former US President Ronald Reagan said in 1987: `Mr. Mikhail Gorbachev, `Open this Gate! Tear down this Wall!` The Wall built right near the Brandenburg Gate is the famous (or notorious) Berlin Wall which used to separate Communist East Berlin from West Berlin for 28 years.

It must be remembered that at the end of World War II Germany was divided into 4 zones, each zone occupied by the victorious Allied powers – the United States, Great Britain, France, and the Soviet Union. The same thing was done with Germany`s capital city of Berlin. Later in 1949 the 3 areas occupied by the US, France and Britain became officially West Germany (Federal Republic of Germany) and from the zone occupied by the Soviet Union emerged East Germany (German Democratic Republic). Berlin was also divided into West Berlin and East Berlin separated by the Wall, geographically and politically.

The Berlin Wall (Berliner Mauer) was constructed by the German Democratic Republic starting 13 August 1961 completely cutting off West Berlin from surrounding East Germany and from East Berlin. Often referred to as Wall of Shame the barrier of concrete and barbed wire with grand towers placed along the large walls prevented emigration of East Germans by crossing over the border from East Berlin into West Berlin. From 1961 to 1989 around 5,000 people attempted to cross the wall and escape with an estimated death toll of 125.

On 9 November 1989 the East German government announced that all German Democratic Republic citiznes could visit West Germany and West Berlin and on the night of 10 November the jubilant Germans from East and West gathered by the wall in celebration. Parts of the wall were chipped away by the public and souvenir hunters. The wall was primarily destroyed in 1990.

The fall of Berlin Wall paved the way for German reunification on 3 October 1990, i.e., 45 years after the WW II.

Visiting and seeing the remnants of the Berlin Wall make us become also a part of its history!We`ll continue our sightseeing tour of Berlin on the 05-20 October issue. God bless.

Trivia: `The very first bomb dropped by the Allies on Berlin during World War II killed the only elephant in the zoo, also making it the first casualty.`