Sunday, 1 June 2014

10 Things to do in Berlin for FREE

On our first day Joyce and I amazed ourselves, we managed to walk around the city centre and catch the main sights and not spend any money. Berlin is such a great value destination, most of the things people come to see are, in fact, out in the open and totally free.

Our selfie attempting to get the Berliner Dom in the background (attempt 3 of about 50).


Here's a list of things we saw for nothing:



1. Berliner Dom

The majestic Berlin cathedral began it's history way back in 1465 when it was St. Eramus' Chapel. It became a collegiate church, and went through many changes, eventually being completed in a Classicist style in 1822. During World War II the cathedral was bombed by The Allies, and severely damaged. A temporary roof was put on to protect the remainder of the inside and restoration started, eventually being finished and reopened in 1993. Now it's built in an Italian renaissance style, supposedly the St. Peter's of the Protestant church.
You can visit inside the church but it costs 7€, unless you're attending a service (and in most cases I find, once you've been in one cathedral, you've been in them all).



2. Brandenburger Tor & Pariser Platz

The most recognisable landmark in the city, once representing the division of East and West, now it celebrates the reunification. Ask many Berliner's where they were when The Wall came down and they'll tell you they were at Brandenburger Tor. The architect, Carl Gotthard Langhans was inspired by the Acropolis in Athens. The structure is crowned by Quadriga, Johann Gottfried Schadow's sculpture of the winged Goddess and her horse- drawn carriage.

Pariser Platz is a huge square framed by important banks and US, British and French embassy's as it was in it's 19th century heyday, the last to open was the US embassy back in 2008. Not to forget, just off the square is the hotel where Michael Jackson famously dangled his baby over the balcony (facepalm).




3. Reichstag

It's a historical edifice in Berlin, the building opened in 1894 housing The Imperial Diet of the German Empire, and housed it until 1933 when it was damaged by a fire. After World War II the building fell into disuse, and whilst the building was made safe, no attempt was made to restore it until the reunification. Eventually in 1999 it, again, became the home for the German parliament, the modern day Bundestag. After the restoration, a glass dome was added on to the top and it is possible to go up and climb the dome and view the city from the roof.



4. Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe

Also known as the Holocaust Memorial, it's a memorial designed by Peter Eisenman and engineer Buro Happold. It consists of a 19,000m2 site covered with 2,711 concrete slabs arranged in a grid pattern on a sloping field. According to the project text, the uneven heights, and ground levels are designed this way to create an uneasy and confused atmosphere. Below the site, underground, there is a "Place of Information" with all the known names of the Jewish Holocaust victims.



5. Potsdamer Platz

These days Potsdamer Platz is a site for redevelopment, home to the Sony Centre, which is kind of like the Leicester Square of Berlin. Even on the day we were there, they were setting up for a movie premiere. It's an important public square, named for the town Potsdam, as the old road to the town 25km south west passed through this area. The area was totally laid to waste after during WWII and left desolate during the Cold War era as the Wall cut through the square.


6. Fernsehturm

The TV Tower was constructed by the GDR in the late 1960's and intended to be an icon of Berlin, which it remains to be to this day. The tower is situated at Alexanderplatz in Mitte. It is the tallest structure in Berlin standing at 368 metres and can be seen across the city and some suburban districts. The tower is one of the most prominent symbols of the country. You can go up the tower to the visitor platform, but it costs 13€.



7. Gendarmenmarkt

The Gendarmenmarkt is a square in Berlin housing both the French and German Cathedral's and the concert house. The French cathedral is the older of the two, having been built between 1701 & 1705. The German Cathedral was built 1708 and entirely ravaged by fire in 1945, during WWII and completely destroyed. The concert house was built in 1821 based on the ruins of the National Theatre, which had been destroyed by fire. Parts of the current building contain columns and outside walls of the destroyed building. It took further damage through WWII. In the centre of the square is a statue of Germany's famous poet Friedrich Schiller. The square was created at the end of the 17th century and named after the cuirassier regiment Gens d'Armes, which had their stables there until 1773. The square was entirely restored to it's former state after much of it was badly damaged, or even destroyed during World War II. Gendarmnemarkt is also home to one of Berlin's most popular Christmas markets.



8. Checkpoint Charlie

So there you are walking down a long shopping street in Berlin, and it suddenly appears in the middle of the air. A portrait of a soldier in the distance, a memorial to the soldiers who worked on the Checkpoint. It's the first sign that you're approaching Checkpoint Charlie on Friedrichstra├če. Yes, the street is packed, and yes tourists are clicking camera's everywhere, but it is so surreal. It wasn't like this pre 1989. You couldn't walk right up, and then right past the Checkpoint. The street now has free WiFi all the way down it, and two 'guards' stand at the Checkpoint (you can get a picture taken with them for a price).



9. Oberbaumbr├╝cke

Another symbol of the city's unity, the Oberbaum Bridge is a double-decker bridge. It was on the East/ West Border and the U-Bahn forced to terminate before it crossed the bridge whilst the city was divided. All the waters of the River Spree were in the Eastern half of the city, and the fortifications extended to the Kreuzberg side. The bridge became a crossing point for pedestrians from West Berlin only at the end of 1963. The bridge was entirely restored once the reunification happened.



10. The East Side Gallery

Just across the Oberbaum Bridge is the East Side Gallery. Sitting along the River Spree, it is the longest remaining section of the wall. Once the wall was declassified more than 100 artists from all around the world left their mark turning it into an open-air gallery full of declarations of peace as well as other politically minded murals.





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12 comments:

  1. I love free!!!! I never made it to Berlin (dang) and now I need to go back. great tip. BIG THANKS for linking up with us for #SundayTraveler - hope to see you again next week!!

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    1. Yes, you do! It's amazing there :) as you can see from all the above.

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  2. Love Berlin, and with so many things to do for free I love it even more! Thanks!

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    1. It is sooo good, and a great overview of the city, in my opinion. Plus, there is loads more that is also free to see and do!

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  3. Great list. I love finding free touristy things to do. I found myself not doing some popular attractions because of the cost. Even though I would have liked to, I have to hold to my budget and think of when the cost really is worth the experience.

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    1. It's sooo good, isn't it? And Berlin seems to be full of it, there are even museums you can access for free, too.

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  4. I loved my time in Berlin and there are so many free things to do in the city. There are a few on this list that I missed too. I would love to live there one day :)

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    1. Yeah me too, that would be amazing!!

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  5. I LOVE how many free things there are to do in Berlin! It's one of the (many) things that I love about that city. Did you go up into the Reichstag dome? I thought that was so cool!

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    1. Yeah, my friend organised it for us :) it was super awesome

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