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Berlin

It has been the capital of the Kingdom of Prussia, the German empire, the Weimar Republic, the Third Reich and now the current capital of Germany and arguably the epicentre of culture in Europe. Berlin, considered by many as one of the finest cities in the world, captured my imagination and affections on a recent visit.

Recently celebrating the anniversary of the downfall of its infamous wall that divided the city into East and West for 28 years, dividing brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers and generations, it is a testament to the Germans and Berliners how they overcame the adversity of this societal divide and have embraced their relative newfound freedom to make the city a thriving hub of diverse culture, ethereal architecture, pulsating nightlife and liberal lifestyle.
Perhaps the most iconic landmark in Berlin is the gate that determined who crossed that infamous wall. The Brandenburg Gate is situated in the centre of Berlin imposing itself on the Berlin skyline, dominating it like it did thousands of Germans for many years. As if sitting on a throne, the Roman goddess Victoria (for victory) in her chariot adorns the top of the gate, overlooking the city. The Reichstag which is perched beside the Brandenburg Gate is the seat of the German Parliament and sitting atop this buliding is a dome which upon reaching the top, all of Berlin can be seen.

The Berliner Dom or Berlin Cathedral is not to be missed. From the outside it is evident that there is something special about this cathedral and once you set foot inside and glance towards the ceiling, the ornate paintings mesmerize you.The Potsdamer Platz, built from scratch after the wall came down, is a modern centre of neon culture, blinding lights and it epitomises and symbolises Berlins entry into unification and the new Berlin.

The remaining remnants of the wall dotted around the centre of the city is a reminder of the cities grim and distant past. Perhaps the memory that most Germans would like to be in the distant pass is their involvement in the persecution of 6 million Jews during World War II. The Holocaust memorial, situated beside the Brandenburg Gate on Unter Den Linden is a feat of modern design with a museum situated below the memorial. The museum itself describes in detail the harrowing stories of the many Jews persecuted during Hitler’s reign and the torture and horrors they were subjected to.

Berlin is also home to museums of every variety with a rich range of choice catering for every taste from history to contemporary art to erotica. One of the most appealing aspects of Berlin for the younger generation is the vibrant nightlife with Berlin being considered as the techno capital of Europe if not the world. The Mitte district would be thought of as the social centre of the city with many other districts trailing a short distance behind. I found the Oranienburg district to be quite vibrant with its bustling bars and restaurants, with a wide choice on offer. For those of the vintage shop persuasion, the Prenzlaeur Berg district is definitely worth a visit. Hours upon hours of your time would be well spent well traversing the many shops that capture your eye every corner you turn.

In short, Berlin is top of my list for a return visit, sooner rather than later. It caters for every generation and every taste. My only criticism is theres so much to see, it’s difficult to fit everything in 3 0r 4 days, so I would recommend spending a week there to see everything at your own leisure.

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Written by: John Fagan

Proofed by: Dara O’Conor

Uploaded by: Emma Duggan

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