Berlin has a turbulent past, and traces of it are still evident all around this city that’s practically an open-air museum. These days it’s known as a hip town, with something for young and old.
Older people like the world-famous architecture, such as the Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag building and Charlottenburg Palace. This kind of architecture adds to the city’s atmosphere and status, especially combined with its many art exhibitions and museums.
Young people flock here because of its exciting nightlife, which is constantly evolving. Besides its many bars and clubs, the city is known for festivals, dance parties and other events. It’s also great for shopping, and it’s home to the largest department store in Europe, the KaDeWe (short for Kaufhaus des Westens) on the Kurfürstendamm.
But Berlin’s history has its dark sides. After Hitler and his national socialist party came into power, it became the capital of the Third Reich. Hitler declared a state of emergency here when the Reichstag parliament building was destroyed by fire in 1933. It is believed it was Dutchman Marinus van der Lubbe who started the fire. He was arrested after the fire and beheaded in Leipzig in 1934.
Hitler ruled from Berlin for a very long time, giving orders that started the Second World War. The city centre was all but destroyed by hundreds of bombings during the war. Hitler committed suicide here on April 30th in 1945, in a bunker under the city.
After the war the Berlin was occupied by French, English, American and Soviet troops, and they split both Germany and Berlin into four sections.
Berlin was also the centre of the Cold War, and the Berlin Wall was a lasting monument of the oppression by the Eastern Bloc and the US. There was even a threat of a nuclear war.
The Berlin wall is still one of the most impressive structures around, and is often the first thing that people associate with Berlin.
It’s a great city to visit all year round, but it can be busy in summer. Spring (April to June) and autumn (September to November) are also popular times to visit, and showcase why Berlin is one of the greenest cities in Europe. Almost a quarter of the city is made up of parks, lakes and canals. In winter, there’s a chance of snow, and it’s relatively quiet at the large museums, especially during the week.