TOUR IN

GERMANY

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* HAMBURG

* COLOGNE

* RHINE RIVER CRUISE

* HEIDELBERG

* FAREWELL DINNER

 

BERLIN

The capital and biggest city of Germany

Bebelplatz is one of the most noteworthy tourist attractions in Berlin.
The square dates to about 1740, but it was named in 1947

after the joint founder of the German Social Democratic

Party (SPD), August Bebel. At first, it was to be the centre

of the Forum Fridericianum planned by Knobelsdorff. This

could not however be fully realized – only the »opera house

was constructed from 1741–43, which lead to the grounds

becoming known as Opernplatz. Behind the Staatsoper,

St. Hedwig's Cathedral can be found (built 1747–1773),

while the western side is the site of the Königliche Bibliothek

(Royal Library, 1775–80), known colloquially as the

"Kommode" ("chest of drawers"); today, this building belongs

to the Humboldt University and is attached to the Alte Palais

(Old Palace, also now used by the Humboldt University).

On May 10, 1933, the square was the focal point for the

burning of the books" staged by the Nazis: the works of

Heinrich and Thomas Mann, Erich Kästner, Stefan Zweig,

Heinrich Heine, Karl Marx, Alfred Kerr, Kurt Tucholsky

and countless other writers were thrown into the flames.

Since 1995, this event has been commemorated by the

monument designed by Micha Ullmann, which consists

of an underground library with empty shelves and which can be

seen through a transparent plastic window set into the ground.

The Nazis burned books on this plaza.

Brandenburg Gate (still under renovation) built in 1791,

this imposing structure has endured several symbolic

reincarnations. Intended by its architect Carl Gotthard

Langhans to be a symbol of peace, the gate was

crowned by the Quadriga, a 4-horse chariot driven by the

winged Victory goddess, a couple of years later, turning it

into a monument to Prussian militarism. The goddess

and her steeds had a short stint in Paris when Napoleon

came along and swiped them in 1806. Political groups

from various ideological corners hijacked the pliable

Brandenburg Gate as the backdrop for their rallies and

processions until 1961 when the wall was built and the

gate sealed off in no-man's-land. In 1989, after the

dissolution of the border, the area was re-opened to the

public. Today, traffic passes freely under the gate and

enterprising scammers have long been selling hunks

of Berlin Wall concrete, mostly of dubious authenticity.

If the Berlin Wall was ever reconstructed from the

fragments sold to tourists it could probably

enclose the whole of Germany.

Peek through the canvas and see how far the renovation goes.

After renovation, it should look like this.

Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche -- the neo-Roman church,

which was intended to recall the glory of the first German

Kaiser, was built in an ornamental style from 1891–95 to

plans by Schwechten. After the church was destroyed in

an air raid in 1943, the ruins – a constant, unavoidable reminder

of the horrors of war for Berliners – were supposed to be

demolished to make way for the planned new building in 1956.

After a storm of emotional protests, it was decided to integrate

the ruins into the new building.  The modern building was

constructed from 1959–61 to plans by Egon Eiermann and

consists of three elements. It is constructed of honeycombed

concrete components into which glass bricks are set. The

church tower, with the christening and matrimonial chapel, is

built on a hexagonal foundation. The colored glass bricks

bathe the interior of the octagonal nave in an intense blue light,

and create an atmosphere of calm. The smallest, rectangular

building was planned as a sacristy, but now houses the city

mission. The memorial hall in the old tower is a memorial of the

horror and destruction of war.

Sara at the old church ruin

Partial of the Berlin Wall still stands.

Snack time with donuts and coffee

Sara poses with Berlin's mascot -- bear

Common sight of Mercedes-Benz taxi in all major cities