The majority of museums in Berlin can be found on Museum Island. Located in the heart of the capital of Germany, it is situated on an island in the River Spree and is a UNESCO World Heritage site as well. It is composed of six separate spectacular museums that are housed in historic buildings, including the Altes (Old) Museum, Neues (New) Museum, Bode Museum, Pergamon Museum, the Alte Nationalgalerie (Old National Gallery), and the James Simon-Galerie. Each of these museums and galleries offer unique works of art, artifacts, and history, making Museum Island a perfect stop on your Berlin itinerary for any history buff or museum-lover.
The world-famous Pergamon Museum is home to three separate museums. The Collection of Classical Antiquities is the most-visited exhibit out of all the museums in Berlin, averaging more than a million visitors each year. It is home to various relics, mosaics, jewelry, and architectural remains from early Greece and Rome. The two most popular artifacts in the collection are the Pergamon Altar, a masterpiece of Hellenistic art built in the second century BC, and the market Gate of Miletus, a beautiful example of Roman architecture. The Collection of Classical Antiquities gives visitors a true feel of the architectural and artistic talent of early Greece and Rome.
The Museum of Islamic Art is also a unique section of the Pergamon Museum. The collection spans from the eighth to the nineteenth century and is dedicated to art originating from areas spanning across Europe to the Middle East and India. The art that is on display includes jewelry, architectural decorations, decorated manuscripts, and applied arts and crafts such as carvings, ceramics, and carpets. The architectural decorations also include stuccos, decorated stone and painted wood paneling. The Museum of Islamic Art successfully showcases and preserves the beautiful work done by individuals in the Islamic world throughout the centuries.
Re-creating 6,000 years of history and culture, the Museum of the Ancient Near East in the Pergamon Museum is one of the world's leading museums of ancient oriental treasures. The findings that are displayed in these collections derive from the Babylonian, Sumerian, Assyrian, and northern Syrian/eastern Anatolian regions—present-day Iraq, Turkey, and Syria. It boasts the reconstructions of various Babylonian monuments, including the Processional Way, the Ishtar Gate, the Tower of Babel, and the facade of the throne hall of King Nebuchadnezzar. If ancient history excites you, then the Museum of the Ancient Near East must be visited during your vacation in Germany.
Also located on Museum Island, the Neues Museum boasts more than 9,000 various artifacts pulled from around the world. It is home to the Egyptian Museum and the Museum of Pre- and Early History. The most famous piece of history housed in the collection is often said to be an image of the world's most beautiful woman, the bust of Egyptian Queen Nefertiti. Recently put back on display, Queen Nefertiti attracts thousands of visitors. The Neues Museum is also home to a papyrus collection and various works of art from early Egypt.
The Bode Museum is also another great stop on your tour of museums in Berlin. The Sculpture Collection dates from the Middle Ages and includes pieces from France, Spain, Italy and Germany. The Italian pieces are a focus of the collection due to the ornate craftsmanship. The Bode Museum is lucky to boast that the collection includes Donatello's Pazzi Madonna, a true sculpture masterpiece. The Museum of Byzantine Art is also housed in the Bode Museum. It showcases works of art from the ancient Mediterranean region, Roman sarcophagi and ornamental sculpture from the Eastern Roman Empire.
Museum Island is conveniently located near many major attractions in Berlin, such as the Berliner Dom and Alexanderplatz. If your hotel is not in that area, you can easily take one of the numerous subway lines from around the bustling capitol and reach Museum Island with little trouble. All of the museums are open daily from 10 am to 6 pm with extended hours on Thursdays, when the museums are open until 10 pm. No matter what piques your interest, Museum Island should definitely be included in your travel to Berlin.