The “Alex” TV Tower
The 368m- (1027ft)- high TV tower of Alexanderplatz can be seen from almost any point in the city and has been iconic of Berlin ever since it was built by the GDR in 1969. The giant steel- clad sphere atop houses a revolving restaurant and café as well as a viewing platform. The elevator ride lasts 40 seconds. Arrive early to avoid lines. Daily 9am– midnight (from 10am Nov– Feb). €13/8.50. www.tv-turm.de. Panoramastr. 1a. T: 030.24757537. S+U Alexanderplatz. F3
The city’s neo- Renaissance cathedral was begun in the late 1700s, finished in 1905, and renovated in simplified form after WWII damage. Walk up 267 steps for glorious views of the city from the dome, or stay on the ground floor to gaze at elaborate sarcophagi containing the royal remains of Hohenzollern family members. Thanks to the church’s perfect acoustics and a 7200- pipe organ, the Dom is also an important concert venue. Mon– Sun 9am– 8pm (until 7pm in winter). € 7/4. www.berlinerdom.de. Am Lustgarten. T: 030.20269119. S Hackescher Markt. E3/F3
MUST SEE The definitive Berlin icon, Gotthard Langhans’ Neoclassical triumphal arch has witnessed the city’s best and worst moments, from the military parades of the Third Reich to the Wall being raised and torn down. Formerly behind GDR borders, today the gate acts mainly as the backdrop for festivals, New Year’s Eve parties, and tourist snapshots. U Brandenburger Tor. D3/E3
The summer home of Sophie Charlotte, wife of King Friedrich I of Prussia, reflects the grandeur of the Hohenzollern family. Begun in 1695, the luxury Baroque complex consists of a main building with a central cupola and two side wings, added in later years, that enclose a courtyard. The picturesque park surrounding the castle includes a formal French-style garden, English garden with pond and statues, belvedere, and mausoleum. The castle hosts temporary art and history exhibitions. Tue–Sun 10am– 6pm (until 5pm in winter). €12/8. www.spsg.de. Spandauer Damm 20-24. T: 030.9694200. U Sophie- Charlotte- Platz. A3
An intricate series of interconnected courtyards provides an example of early-19th- century German Secessionist style. The first courtyard is entirely decorated with glazed blue-and-white tiles in geometric designs, while the apartment buildings and narrow, maze-like alleys lined with cafés, shops, and theaters give the Höfe an atmosphere both familiar and fascinating. Rosenthaler Str. 4041. S Hackescher Markt. E2/F2
Haus der Kulturen der Welt
Dubbed the “pregnant oyster” by locals due to its curvy shape, the building that is now home to the House of the Cultures of the World was originally built as a congress hall in 1956 but quickly became a symbol of Western freedom and creativity, in contrast to East German architectural projects of the time. Computer- guided chime concerts ring daily at noon and 6pm, and the building now hosts concerts and intercultural events. Daily 10am–7pm. Prices vary. www.hkw.de. John- Foster- Dulles-Allee 10. T: 030.397870. U Bundestag. D3
The church’s bombed- out bell tower has been an anti-war memorial and symbol of West Berlin ever since its ruins were restored to their present state in 1957. The old church now hosts an exhibition of before-and-after photos documenting its former splendor and showing the Ku’damm before the bombs. Inside, look up to admire what remains of the old mosaic. Daily 9am– 6pm. www.gedaechtniskirche- berlin.de. Breitscheidplatz. T: 030.2185023. U Zoologischer Garten, U Kurfürstendamm. C4
MUST SEE Before the war, this Moorish- Byzantinestyle synagogue was Berlin’s largest Jewish place of worship. The synagogue was seriously damaged during the infamous Kristallnacht pogroms of 1938, while Allied bombs gave it the coup de grâce in 1943. The exotic gold dome is today the icon of Berlin’s Jewish rebirth, and the partially reconstructed building now houses a Jewish center and a museum. Museum: €3.50/3. Dome € 2/1.50. Under- 6s free. www.cjudaicum.de. Oranienburgerstr. 28-30. T: 030.88028300. S Oranienburgerstraße, S Hackescher Markt. E2
Nikolaiviertel and Knoblauchhaus
The Nikolaiviertel is where Berlin was born, and the area still retains its ancient character, although most of the buildings in the narrow medieval alleys are replicas of destroyed originals that dated back to the 1200s. The late- Gothic Nikolaikirche, Berlin’s oldest surviving building, is now a museum. Other points of interest include the Ephraim Palais Museum and the Biedermeierstyle Knoblauchhaus, a 19th- century middleclass townhouse that escaped WWII damage. Knoblauch Haus: Tue–Sun 10am– 6pm. www.knoblauchhaus.de. Poststr. 23. T: 030.240020171. S+U Alexanderplatz. F3
Panoramapunkt am Potsdamer Platz
In 20 seconds, an elevator whisks you to the top of a 100m-high platform with one of the best views in Berlin. Visitors can enjoy drinks and cake at the café, with the city’s skyline as a backdrop. Daily 10am–7:30pm (until 6pm Nov– Mar). €6.50/5. www.panoramapunkt.de. Kolhoff Tower, Potsdamer Platz 1. S Potsdamer Platz. D3
MUST SEE The seat of the world-famous Berliner Philharmoniker orchestra is one of Germany’s finest post-War architectural achievements. The exteriors recall a circus tent, while the pentagonal concert hall is arranged with a central podium for the orchestra and galleries for the audience around all sides. See Entertainment section for full program. Guided tours offered daily at 1:30pm. € 5/3. www.berliner- philharmoniker.de. Herbertvon- Karajan-Str. 1. T: 030.254888156. S+U Potsdamer Platz, U Mendelssohn Bartholdy Park. D3
Potsdamer Platz and Sony Center
Before the war, Potsdamer Platz was the city’s beating heart, with department stores, banks, internationally known theaters, dance halls, and cafés. WWII bombs obliterated 80 percent of the square, which was left in limbo for a few years and then enclosed in a no-man’s-land between the Wall and barbed wire fences. The square came back to life in the 1990s as a modern reinterpretation of its original self. Divided in three
BERLIN: SYMPHONY OF A GREAT
This black-and- white beauty of a silent film depicts a day in the life of a bygone Berlin – a
must- see for history fans.
The Oscar- winning classic starring Liza Minnelli, depicting the famous era of swinging 1930s Berlin as the Nazis were rising to power, was filmed in both the capital and
WINGS OF DESIRE (1987)
This gloomily beautiful love story by German heavyweight director Wim Wenders is like an ode to West Berlin. One iconic scene features the main character atop the Siegessäule
column in Tiergarten.
RUN LOLA RUN (1998)
This runaway ( pun intended) international success takes its viewers on a heart-thumping sprint all over town. One key location: the
red- bricked Oberbaum Bridge.
THE BOURNE SUPREMACY (2004)
Trained assassin Jason Bourne is chased all over the city in this thriller. Look for major cameos by the Friedrichstraße S- Bahn bridge
THE LIVES OF OTHERS (2006)
This Oscar winner does a stellar job illustrating life in East Berlin, with scenes shot in the former Stasi headquarters in Lichtenberg and Mitte's Volksbühne theater.