|Berlin: Twenty Years Beyond the Wall|
Nearly two decades since the Iron Curtain opened, this metropolis of 3.4 million embraces modern life on the cutting edge. The city’s free-spirited ambiance is flush with constant change and an exciting appeal for visitors.
While no longer physically split into two halves, the two cultural Berlins provide an exciting venue for those who enjoy urban life, culture, music, and a buzzing, cosmopolitan environment. Rarely have I visited a city with so much to offer — and at such a good value. Not only is Berlin one of the most inexpensive European capitals but also one of the most vibrant ones.
Almost entirely rebuilt since World War II, Berlin has evolved into a global focal point for young individuals and artists attracted by a liberal lifestyle and a modern worldview. Recognized for its festivals, diverse architecture, nightlife, contemporary arts and a high quality of life, the German capital is the third-leading tourism destination in Europe because it offers so much to see and do.
With impressive architecture and a plethora of museums, educational institutions, and events covering everything under the sun, Berlin rightly deserves the title zeitgeist metropolis. The city has a diverse art scene, and is home to around 420 art galleries.
In recent years, Berlin has become a mecca for the young people who drive trends in fashion and the arts. “Berlin is very liberal and cosmopolitan,” says Uta Von Dietze, director of sales at Hotel Concorde Berlin. “There are 15,000 Americans living here as well as many other nationalities, so it’s a very mixed community.”
Young Germans and international artists continue to settle in the city, and Berlin has established itself as a center of youth and popular culture in Europe. Signs of this expanding role was the 2003 announcement that the annual Popkomm, Europe’s largest music industry convention, would move to Berlin, and shortly thereafter, MTV also decided to move its European headquarters and main studios to Berlin.
Moreover, Berlin is easy on the pocketbook. “You get a lot for your money in terms of accommodations, food and entertainment,” Von Dietze says. “Theater tickets are an exceptional value, and you can dine for nothing. I took four people to eat at one of my favorite restaurants. Including drinks, the bill came to about 25 euros. I was almost embarrassed that it cost so little.”