sábado, 30 de mayo de 2015

May 20 - Berlin, Germany

Gedenkstätte Berliner Mauer
At the Berlin Wall Memorial Site, you can see a portion of the wall that was left to create the memorial. There are several information points that explain how the wall came to be and how it changed over time. I didn't know that the wall originally started out as barbed wire fencing that just lied on the ground and soldiers were stationed every so often to enforce it. I also didn't know that they added additional structures to prevent people from getting through to West Germany. There is a portion of the memorial that remembers all those who died at the wall, which ranges from infants to elderly. It's kind of weird to see this and think of how the city was once divided, breaking up families and jobs, and of staying that way for years!

Berliner Dom
Shortly after I got into the Berlin Cathedral, there was a prayer session complete with organ playing. It was very enjoyable and a cool experience. The Cathedral also contains a small art museum and a crypt, plus you can go up to the dome and get some amazing views of the city! Interestingly enough, the cathedral was severely damaged during the bombings during WWII, and West Germany paid for the restoration to the church, even though it was in East Germany at the time.

While the cathedral was originally Roman Catholic in the mid-1500s, it has since changed hands a few times and is currently United Protestant. Also, the name is misleading, because it had never been the seat of s bishop, which is what the time title of "cathedral" denotes.

Berliner Mauer East Side Gallery
The East Side Gallery is a part of the Berlin Wall that was painted on the east side with various scenes in 1990 by 118 artists from 21 countries painted with anything from brushes go spray cans. The painting of the wall never would have been allowed under East Germany control, so it was a great way to celebrate the fall of the wall.

Jüdisches Museum
The Jewish Museum is an odd place architecturally because the designer made it very abstractly, but intentionally. On the ground floor, the entire floor is at an incline and tipped to the side, so you feel like you're tipping over while you're walking. Also, there's a tall room that is empty, unfinished, isn't heated, air conditioned, or lite up, but simply has a small opening toward the top that lets in natural light. There is also a garden that has a slanted, tilted floor with columns like the ones at the Holocaust Museum, though the columns are also slanted and tilted, so walking through it makes you feel kind of sick.

The permanent collection has over 2,000 years of German Jewish history on display. There's also a computer database you can flip through to learn. There is art and old relics on display. It's one of Berlin's most visited museums and is definitely worth seeing.

Schloss Charlottenburg
Charlottenburg Palace, which was once a royal palace dating back to 1699 for the German kings and queens, is now a museum. Behind the palace is a huge garden, which is nice for strolling through and enjoying the scenery, and even the ponds. The Palace, originally called Lietzenburg because it was located in the village of Lietzow, was commissioned by Sophie Charlotte, wife of Friedrich III, Elector of Brandenburg. When Sophie passed away, he renamed the palace Charlottenburg in memory and honor of her. Later kings commissioned the additions of the two wings, as well as the expansion of the garden to include orange trees, a stable, and more. It was badly damaged in 1943 during a bombing and was feared it would be demolished like some other historical buildings, though it was decided to restore it to its former glory.

Berlin is a lovely city that's very progressive and fun. I am honestly surprised at how well put together the city is and how orderly everything is. Since it was left in ruins after WWII, combined with the splitting of Germany and the city being split by a wall, which only came down in 1989, I was expecting there to be more visible damage from everything that's happened there in the last 75 years. Today, it is a beacon of hope for the future, and I think that's in part due to the constant reminder from all the memorials that are placed throughout the city of their past. They don't want to return to that, so they've gone in the complete opposite direction and are very progressive and liberal, which fits me to a T! On top of that, it's the cheapest capitol to live in in Europe, so who could pass that up?! The only thing that throws a wrench into living in Germany are the frequent union strikes of the DB rail conductors, which can make getting around in the city slightly more problematic, though not impossible by any means.

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