Berlin is like the elaborate daydream of a brilliant but tortured artist. From the disorientating passageways of the Holocaust Memorial to the power-station-come-super-club Berghain, be prepared for a travel experience.
This city is where trends are set, masterpieces are created, and a cultural movement is born that people are already writing books about. Whether you spend a fortnight or a weekend in Berlin, here are some of the contrasts and creative adventures you could experience in this wonderful city.
A City of Contrasts
In this city of contrasts you won’t find the clean, manicured elegance of Paris and Bruges. Beauty and poetry exist alongside chaos and decay, and that’s what gives Berlin such a unique character. That’s not to say that you can’t soak up the opulence and elegance of Germany’s past.
At Schloss Charlottenburg, you can explore a living museum of eighteenth century grandeur, and picnic in Baroque gardens. There’s also the smart, imposing Reichstag building to explore. Jumping further forward in history, follow the path of the Berlin wall across the city and visit remnants of the Cold War like Checkpoint Charlie. Berlin is a city of strong emotions and moving stories as well as frivolity and fun. The depths of the city’s soul can be explored at the Holocaust Memorial.
On the flip-side, Berlin has a booming alternative scene that has given rise to bohemian squats, pockets of positive activism, music that breaks and makes trends and people who are as diverse as the streets they live in. Creative young minds from across Germany and beyond head here to make themselves. You’ll soon come across signs of this dynamic alternative culture as you wander away from the main tourist attractions and around the city’s residential areas.
Every kind of Art
Berlin is well known as being a haven for artists, who flock to the city to be at the heart of the art scene as well as to explore its cutting edge. They are also drawn by the low cost of living, which enables artists to do their thing and make ends meet in a way that would not be possible in many European cities. This means an array of visual treats for us visitors. There are over four hundred galleries in the city showcasing every imaginable style of art. Whatever you’re into, you can find it in Berlin.
The art isn’t just confined to galleries, either. Berlin is the European capital of street art, and all of the continent’s best-known ‘bombers’ have made their mark, from Banksy to El Bocho.
A Ticket to Party
It’s easy to get around Berlin thanks to the super-efficient subway system, which operates around the clock. The clubs are twenty-four hours, too, and are renowned for their liberal, alternative approach to nightlife. Berghain, a converted power station, is one of the city’s most popular offerings where you can lose yourselves in the rhythm of Berlin’s trademark minimal techno and house music. White Trash Fast Food is a throwback to everything 50s retro, and Trust captures the bonkers, bohemian vibe of Berlin’s art scene.
Berlin really is one of the most exciting cities in Europe, and the place to be if you want to experience the many contrasts that are giving rise to a dynamic new culture. Have you visited Berlin? Which one of the city’s many charms most appeals to you?
Images by Supermac1961, Lord Jim and Philippe AMIOT used under creative commons license.