Berlin, historic capital of Germany and Europe’s “City of Cool”, is a vibrant and fascinating city well worth the trip – an August Baltic cruise of northern Europe.
What is there to see? Museums, Checkpoint Charlie,the Berlin Wall Memorial, the Reichstag, the Kurfurstendamm, the Pariser Platz, the Unter den Linden, and the Brandenburg Gate.
Brandenburg Gate (Brandenburger Tor) is one of the most well-known landmarks of Germany and is Berlin’s most famous monument. It is the country’s symbol of division during the tense Cold War between the capitalist United States with its allies (the Western Bloc) and the Communist Soviet Union with its satellite states (the Eastern Bloc) and at the sametime a symbol of German reunification after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1990, i.e., forty-five years (45) years later after World War II.
It must be recalled that at the end of the Second World War Germany was divided into four zones, each zone occupied by the victorious Allied powers – the United States, Great Britain, France, and the Soviet Union. The three areas occupied by the US, France and Britain became officially West Germany (Federal Republic of Germany)) and the zone occupied by the Soviet Union emerged as East Germany (German Democratic Republic).
Berlin was also divided into West Berlin and East Berlin, geographically and politically separated by the Berlin Wall, (Berliner Mauer), often referred to as the “Wall of Shame”. The barrier of concrete and barbed wire with 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.
The neo-classicial Brandenburg Gate with its design based upon the “Propylaea”, the gateway that welcomes visitors to the Acropolis in Athens, Greece, was erected between 1788 and 1791. Consisting of 12 Doric columns, six to each side, forming 5 passageways, the gate, representing peace, is dominated by the “quadriga”, the four-horse chariot driven by the Goddess of Victory and Peace, Victoria. In 1806, Napoleon Bonaparte after whipping the Prussian Army snatched the four sculpted horses as a souvenir. The Prussians took them back in 1814.
An important part of German history was made here. The then United States President Ronald Reagan said here: “Mr. Mikhail Gorbachev, open this Gate! Tear down this Wall!” On 09 November 1989, the East German government announced that all German Democratic Republic citizens could visit West Germany. The wall was primarily demolished in 1990.
Once again the Brandenburg Gate becomes a symbol of Germany`s unity rather than its division.
Situated by the Gate is the Pariser Platz just at the end of the grassed pedestrian mall, the Ùnter den Linden (Under the Linden Trees), that stretches 1.5 kms. long lined with four rows of linden trees.
Pariser Platz is flanked by the American and French Embassies, the luxury Adlon Hotel, the Aacademy of Arts, and several blocks of apartments and offices.
Visiting Berlin make us become also a part of its culture and history.