Since the fall of the Wall in 1989, Germany’s dynamic capital city has undergone an extensive revitalization. The vibrant metropolis is rich with history, culture, good food, and a very reliable rail system. If you’ve never been, or if it’s just been a while since your last visit, it’s definitely time for you to check out the Millennium City.
By Bryan Reesman

 


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SLEEP TIGHT


Berlin Plaza Hotel (from $90; Knesebeckstr. 63, 011- 49-30-884130, www.plazahotel.de) is not pricey, especially considering its central location right off the ritzy Kurfürstendamm (or “Ku’damm”), Berlin’s equivalent of New York’s Fifth Avenue. It’s snug and modest, and it has a great breakfast buffet and service. The colorful Art’otel Berlin Kudamm (from $156; Joachimstaler Strasse 28-29, 011-49-30- 884470, http://www.parkplaza.com/artotelberlinde_ku damm), featuring works by the likes of Philippe Starck and Arne Jacobsen, is right around the corner and another great option.


SCHNITZEL AND BEYOND

Berlin embraces international cuisine. Bavarian food and atmosphere can be found within the Bavarium (011- 49-30-2614397, www.bavarium-berlin.de) at the EuropaCenter mall. Café Einstein (Kurfürstenstrasse 58, 011-49-30-2615096, www.cafeeinstein.com) serves Austrian cuisine in a striking Viennese coffeehouse setting. Turkish food and delicious döner kebabs — the latter of which are said to have been invented in Berlin — abound in the predominately Turkish district of Kreuzberg. For a juicy steak dinner, look into the different Block House (www.blockhouse.de) locations.


HISTORICAL PRECEDENTS

Remember when there was a West Germany and an East Germany? Museum Haus Am Checkpoint Charlie (Friedrichstrasse 43-45, 011- 49-30-2537250, www.mauermuseum.de) recalls the post-WWII division of Berlin and Germany and displays amazing stories of people attempting to escape the Russian sector. To see remnants of the wall, visit the East Side Gallery (along Mühlenstrasse) and Memorial of German Separation (Bernauerstrasse), and then walk through the famed Brandenburg Gate (on the western end of Unter Den Linden), which once loomed above the wall.


CULTURE

For a comprehensive look into German cinema, explore the Deutsche Kinemathek in the SonyCenter (Potsdamer Strasse 2, www.filmmuseum-berlin.de). For Eastern and Middle Eastern art, visit the PergamonMuseum (011-49-30-20905201). Or walk like an Egyptian and wander the Ägyptisches Museum und Papyrussammlung (011-49-30- 20905577), housed within the Altes Museum (011- 49-30-20905801), home of classical Greek and Roman art. All three are at Museum Island (Bodestrasse 1-3, www.smb.spk-berlin.de/ang/s.html) near the Berliner Dom cathedral.


TEUTONIC TERRAIN

You may wait an hour for an elevator ride to the dome atop the Reichstag building (Platz der Republik 1), but the panoramic view of the city is divine. Another good perch can be found atop the Berliner Dom (Karl-Liebknecht- Strasse, 011-49-30- 20269136, www.berlinerdom.de), which also houses a spectacular pipe organ and a creepy crypt. For a great walk through a gorgeous, enormous park, stroll the Tiergarten (Strasse des 17. Juni 1), which houses the Berlin Zoo (Hardenbergplatz 8, 011-49-30-254010, www.zoo-berlin.de) at its southwestern corner.


SHOPPING

Open until midnight, Dussmann das KulturKaufhaus (Friedrichstrasse 90, 011-49- 30-20251111, www.kulturkaufhaus.shop-asp.de) is an emporium of books, DVDs, and CDs. Cover Schallplatten (Kurfürstendamm 11, 011-49-30-88-550130) sells CDs and tens of thousands of 45s. The ritzy Ku’damm and Friedrichstrasse are home to high-end retail outlets, cafés, and a few art galleries. And then there’s Kreuzberg, Berlin’s equivalent of Greenwich Village. It offers a variety of alternative music and clothing stores, especially along Mehringdamm.