After a lovely morning in Potsdam, we arrived in Berlin. We found a very central underground parking area beneath the Sony Center by Potsdamer Platz.
From the parking garage we walked through the Sony center where we felt immediately surrounded by the city. This area of Berlin was a large city center where most of the buildings were destroyed in WWII and was part of No Man’s Land of the Berlin Wall. Once the Berlin Wall was fell in 1989 this area around Postdamer Platz was rebuilt with tall, modern buildings. The Sony Center was bustling with lots of people out to lunch and shopping. There is also conference space, offices, luxury condos and an IMAX theater. Just outside the Sony Center we found exhibits about the Berlin wall and WWII. There were many people reading the long descriptions and quietly whispering in may different languages.
From Potzdamer Platz we walked North on Ebertstraße. There was a large park to the West. The park is massive and stretches several kilometers to the West. We would have needed a bike to explore the park, there are many paths and I assume beautiful gardens to be explored. But on the East there was a large memorial that we went to see. This memorial, Denkmal für die ermordeten Juden Europas (The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe), or the Holocaust Memorial, is a 4.7 acre site with over 2,700 Stelea – concrete slabs. The ground beneath the Stelea is uneven and rolls to one side and the Stelea themselves are of variable heights. But they are in a precise grid. You can walk the grids through the Stelea. As you walk into the memorial the ground goes down and the Stelea get higher and you feel lost, small and in a way overwhelmed. I found the memorial very interesting, to me it reflected a very ordered overall structure but with underlying tension and struggle. Wikipedia actually has some really interesting information about different interpretations of the memorial as well as some of the controversy surrounding it. Nearby the Ort der Information holds the names of 3 million Jewish Holocaust victims.
Not far from the memorial we located the Branden burger Tor (Gate), one of the most famous landmarks in Germany. The gate, built in the late 1700s, marks the beginning of Unter den Linden, a famous route lined with linden trees. This route continues to the royal City Palace. Much of the area around the gate was being fenced off in preparations for a marathon event the next day. But we were able to walk through the gate itself. On the other side we found a group of protesters, waving flags from Iran and raising awareness about a massacre that occurred in 1988. Pariser Platz is a common place for demonstrations and protests. According to the tour guide who walked past us there is something different going on everyday in this square.
We walked back through the Branden burger Tor and further North to Reichstagsge bäude, Reichstag Building the current home of Germany’s Parliament. The building has an observation area in the large glass dome on the top. The views of Berlin and the surrounding areas are supposed be be quite nice.
Around the back of Reichstagsge bäude, we walked along the Spree river. We then walked a couple blocks South back to Unter den Linden which we followed across the Schlossbrücke to the large cathedral, Berliner Dom. We enjoyed sitting in the sun in the Lustgarten near a large fountain. The park was full of others enjoying the afternoon sun as well. Berlin has a lot of green space for being such a large city!
Just by the Schlossbrücke we took a bit of a detour to check out a construction site by Keller, Jesse’s parent company. On our way back to the car we walked to Gendarmenmarkt, another nice square with beautiful churches to the North (Französischer Dom) and South (Deutscher Dom) and the Konzerthaus Berlin to the West.
Our feet were definitely hurting when we made it back to the Sony Center. So we hopped in the car and drove around the large park we had seen. We drove around an iconic monument, Siegessäule, at the center of a 5 sided rotary, as we continued on our crazy road trip.