Berlin

Overview

Introduction

Since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of the city, Berlin, Germany, has restlessly reinvented itself as a political, business and entertainment center. But even before its roller-coaster ride through the 20th century, 19th-century author Karl Scheffler remarked that the city was constantly on the verge of becoming, never in a state of being. Thus, Berlin is often heralded as "the ever-changing city."

The glass dome of the Reichstag crowns the government quarter, with its straight band of office buildings and the sleek, curving glass hall of the Hauptbahnhof, the main train station. South of the Brandenburg Gate, a cluster of skyscrapers and an eye-catching tentlike structure, modeled after Japan's Mount Fuji, define the rebuilt Potsdamer Platz—a center of activity in the storied Berlin of the 1920s and a bustling development built next to the formerly divided city's no-man's land, which sat as an empty sandlot for many years.

A rediscovery of the waterfront is in full swing, as restaurants, nightclubs and cafes position themselves along the Spree River and the city's many canals. Architecture, much of it in glass and steel, is definitely the calling card of the New Berlin, but the city's many parks, canals and forest-rimmed lakes are still its loveliest real estate. One of Berlin's most visited attractions is the Jewish Museum, a massive architectural thunderbolt housing two millennia of German Jewish history.

The city is full of history and charm, but with a rebellious attitude. Generally less expensive than its European counterparts, Berlin is a lot more spacious, and its mix of cultural and countercultural extravaganzas is unrivaled. History, politics and social preferences collide there, which is precisely what gives Berlin its unique and diverse character.

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