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We woke up early, took the underground train and reached our destination about 20min later. We had breakfast at a nearby Cafe, then walked a short while to Parizer Platz (Paris Square) in the historic centre of Berlin, where the famous Brandenburg Gate is located.
The square is surrounded by lots of Embassies, the most expensive hotel in Berlin (the Adlon Kempinski Hotel), the Academy of Arts and apartment/office buildings.
Apart from the Brandenburg Gate everything around the square was turned to rubble by air raids during the war. When the city was divided by the Berlin Wall, the area where the Gate was fell under the "death zone" dividing the cities.
After the city reunited in 1989, the area was reconstructed, and the square was once again turned into a beautiful space. Looking at all those buildings around the square you would think they had been there forever...
|The Adlon Hotel and the Academy of Arts|
We had booked a tour with Walking Tours of Berlin, and this was the meting place. After the guide and all guests introduced themselves, we were ready to go.
To our left was the Deutscher Bundestag (Parliament) with a glass dome at the top with a 360-degree view of the surrounding Berlin cityscape.
There is free admission to the dome for the public, advance registration is required with ID/passport details. Sadly we didn't book and didn't have our ID's with us to try and see if we could get in when we were there.
To the right of the Brandenburg Gate we walked through the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. It's a 19000 sqmt (200,000 sqft) site with 2711 concrete slabs arranged in a grid pattern. It was inaugurated in 2005, sixty years after the end of the WWII. The area where it was built was also part of the "death strip" that once divided the city. Nearby, under an apartment building parking lot was what once was Hitler's bunker.
Next we walked to the Federal Ministry of Finance (Bundes Finanz Ministerium), in Wilhelm street, a very austere building which was formerly the Air-Ministry headquarters.
A few minutes down the road there was an open-air exhibition called "Topography of terror", with photographs, graphics and documents, set along part of the longest surviving section of the Berlin Wall, to which the 3 of us returned to later in the day.
Across the road was this huge "Die Welt" balloon (a national newspaper) and next to it the Trabi World, a tour company that offers guided tours of Berlin in Trabant vintage cars (cars from the DDR).
We reached Check Point Charlie, one of the most famous Berlin Wall crossing points between East and West Germany, during the cold war (1947-1991).
|Billboard signs warning you were leaving or entering the American Sector, with the Russian and American soldiers|
|Many tried to escape hidden in car, in furniture, in musical instruments...|
|A slice of the wall and a DDR border mark (top left)|