Berlin is perhaps the best point for starting your vacation in Germany. Located in the north east part of the country, this capital city is surrounded by the state of Brandenburg. Berlin Germany is the proud host for many of the nation's institutions of higher learning, economic facilities, and centers for the arts. Berlin has a rich history and its people possess an old and intricate cultural heritage, largely due to the number of changes that Berlin has seen over the years.
Originally the capital for Prussia, Berlin Germany has served as a cultural center for hundreds of years. The first written information of the city comes from as early as 1244 A.D. Berlin Germany has swung between times of flourishing and times of darkness. The Thirty Years War in the seventeenth century saw a third of the homes damaged and half the population was lost. However, following this devastating blow, Frederick William—a Duke, and later King of Prussia—instituted a policy encouraging immigration and religious freedom. A great number of people moved to Berlin Germany in the following years and the city quickly rebounded. This caused the population to become far more cosmopolitan with a full 20% being French. Following the dissolution of the Empire, the Weimar Republic was proclaimed in Berlin. The seizure of power by the National Socialists in 1933 saw Berlin as a focus once again by declaring it the capital of the Third Reich. Following the end of World War II, the city was split into two halves—East Berlin was held by the Russians and communism while West Berlin was held by the allies and democracy. In 1961, the infamous Berlin Wall was constructed, further separating the two halves. However, the wall was torn down in 1989 and the country was unified once more.
As you can imagine, all these different events has had a profound effect on Berlin, Germany, transforming it into a unique and beautiful city. Its mix of the past and the present creates a feeling of magic and wonder as you walk through the streets. One day you might pay a visit to the Charlottenburg Palace, home of the first Prussian King; on the next day you might go to Potsdamer Platz Arcades, a shopping center containing over a hundred modern stores.
Fans of history will be not be disappointed in Berlin Germany. The city has many popular museums that feature cultural, technological, and natural history. There are also countless historic sites like the Deutscher Dom, a cathedral built three hundred years ago.
Shopping is another popular pastime in Berlin. As mentioned above, Potsdamer Platz is a great center and possesses many cafes and restaurants for those who need a break from their shopping. However, there's much more than Potsdamer Platz. Friedrichstrasse has many shops from international designers as well as upscale delicatessens. Those looking for something a little less mainstream will love Hackescher Market, an area that hosts countless small shops that feature items containing their own unique style.
Of course, one cannot mention Berlin without speaking of the Berlin Wall. There isn't terribly much left of the structure that split the city in twain, but the Brandenburg Gate still stands, serving as a reminder of the past. If you want a better understanding of the history behind the wall, you should visit the Berlin Wall Museum in Berlin.
Getting around Berlin isn't difficult. Sightseeing tours are available, but for those looking to conduct their own tours, there are plenty of other choices. Buses run throughout the city and are certainly a cheaper option than a guided tour. There are plenty of beautiful walks to be found along Berlin's many jogging paths. Cycling fans will find plenty of routes as well. It's even possible to explore Berlin by boat; the city has more bridges than Venice.
Berlin is the center of German film and cinema, shown by the famous Berlin Film Festival. Held each February, the Berlin Film Festival has been a mainstay in the city since 1951. Placing an emphasis on international productions, the festival has had a tradition of showing films from both the west and the east, despite the wall that divided the city. The Berlin Film Festival continues to this day, giving awards—known as the Gold and Silver Bears, as the bear is the symbol of Berlin—to top films from across the world.