MA­JOR SIGHTS

Where Berlin - - SIGHTSEEING | THE GUIDE -

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 (Nov– Feb from 10am). €13/8.50. www.tv-turm.de. Panora­mastr. 1a. T: 030.24757537. S+U Alexan­der­platz. F3

Ber­liner Dom

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–Sat 9am– 8pm, Sun 9am– 8pm (win­ter un­til 7pm). € 7/5. www.berlin­er­dom.de. Am Lust­garten. T: 030.20269119. S Hack­escher Markt. E3/F3

Bran­den­burg Gate

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

Char­lot­ten­burg Palace

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 (win­ter un­til 5pm). €12/8. www.spsg.de. Span­dauer Damm 20-24. T: 030.9694200. U So­phie- Char­lotte- Platz. A3

Hack­esche Höfe

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 an at­mos­phere both fa­mil­iar and fas­ci­nat­ing. Rosen­thaler Str. 40- 41. S Hack­escher Markt. E2/F2

Kaiser-Wil­helm-Gedächt­niskirche

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 and Ku'damm's for­mer splen­dor. In­side, look up to ad­mire what re­mains of the old mo­saic. Daily 9am–7pm. www.gedaecht­niskirche- ber­lin.de. Bre­itschei­d­platz. T: 030.2185023. U Zool­o­gis­cher Garten, U Kur­fürs­ten­damm. C4

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– 8pm (un­til 6pm Nov– Mar). €6.50/5. www.panorama­punkt.de. Kol­hoff Tower, Pots­damer Platz 1. S Pots­damer Platz. D3

Pots­damer Platz

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 slices, it in­cludes the Sony build­ing with its cen­tral plaza; Daim­ler City, home to a large shop­ping mall; and the Man­hat­tan- style Beisheim Cen­ter build­ing. S+U Pots­damer D3

Re­ich­stag and Fos­ter’s Glass Cupola

MUST SEE In the last 100 years, the mas­sive neo- Re­nais­sance build­ing, now the seat of Ger­man Par­lia­ment, has been bombed, set on fire, wrapped by artist Christo, and ren­o­vated by Lord Nor­man Fos­ter. Climb the glass cupola for a 360-de­gree view of the city, then gaze down at par­lia­ment in ses­sion. The ple­nary hall can be vis­ited only on guided tours. Cupola: Daily 8am– mid­night by ap­point­ment only. Free. Reg­is­ter on web­site; it is rec­om­mended to do so at least three days prior to your visit. Au­dio tours avail­able. www.bun­destag.de. Platz der Repub­lik 1. T: 030.22732152. U Bun­destag. D3/E3

Siegessäule ( Vic­tory Col­umn)

The tri­umphal col­umn on the Straße der 17. Juni, in the mid­dle of Tier­garten park, com­mem­o­rates vic­tory in the Prusso- Dan­ish war, while the an­gel on top was added af­ter two fur­ther war vic­to­ries against Aus­tria and France. Daily 9:30am– 6:30pm (week­ends un­til 7pm); win­ter 10am– 5pm (week­ends un­til 5:30pm). € 3/2. Großer Stern 1. T: 030.3912961. U Hansaplatz. C3/D3 Ber­lin has no short­age of his­toric sites with fas­ci­nat­ing sto­ries to tell. Ber­liner Un­ter­wel­ten, or Ber­lin Un­der­worlds, is ded­i­cated to shin­ing the light on some of the most hid­den, in­trigu­ing, and jaw- drop­ping spots of all. The non-profit agency leads tours into a va­ri­ety of un­der­ground sites that are hid­den in plain sight, like a WWII air raid shel­ter be­hind an unas­sum­ing door in the Ge­sund­brun­nen U-Bahn sta­tion. In­side the chilly labyrinth of con­crete tun­nels, you can see the nar­row bunk beds and com­mu­nal toi­lets that the war-weary Ber­lin­ers would have used, and ex­pe­ri­ence a small dose of the claus­tro­pho­bia and ter­ror they en­dured. An­other tour ex­plores a Cold War nu­clear shel­ter that was thank­fully never used, but could have shel­tered 3339 West Ber­lin­ers for up to two weeks if nec­es­sary. Or duck into the rub­ble of an enor­mous con­crete gun tower in Hum­boldthain park that was so mas­sive, it couldn’t be de­stroyed – and so it ended up be­ing buried. Most of the Ber­liner Un­ter­wel­ten tours are avail­able year round. Make sure to dress warmly, as it’s al­ways cooler down there. www.ber­liner-un­ter­wel­ten.de

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