March 13, 2014 – Berlin Germany
Today, Danielle and Rocco were our tour guides. We drove to the Embassy Row area of Berlin as there are several things to see around there.
FÃ¼hrerbunker (“Leader’s bunker”)
The first thing we walked by was the parking lot of an apartment complex. The significance of this parking lot is that it sits on top of what once was an air-raid shelter located near the Reich Chancellery in Berlin, Germany. Here’s some detail I dug up on Wikipedia: It was part of a subterranean bunker complex which was constructed in two major phases, one part in 1936 and the other in 1943. It was the last of the FÃ¼hrer Headquarters (FÃ¼hrerhauptquartiere) to be used by Adolf Hitler. Hitler took up residence in the FÃ¼hrerbunker on 16 January 1945 and it became the centre of the Nazi regime until the last week of World War II in Europe. Hitler married Eva Braun here during the last week of April 1945, shortly before they committed suicide. After the war both the old and new Chancellery buildings were leveled by the Soviets, but despite some attempts at demolition the underground complex remained largely undisturbed until 1988â€“89. During reconstruction of that area of Berlin, those sections of the old bunker complex that were excavated were for the most part destroyed. The site remained unmarked until 2006, when a small plaque with a schematic was installed. Some of the corridors of the bunker still exist today, but are sealed off from the public.
Our next, not so glamorous stop was out of real necessity 🙂 We stopped at a public W.C. (water closet). Nice and clean, with an attendant, only 1 Euro each. Well worth it in your time of need 🙂
Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe
On our stroll towards the Brandenburg Gate, we walked through the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. This memorial consists of concrete pillars rising vertically from the ground in a maze-like manner. There were lots of tourists inside the memorial, though you don’t know this until you see them in the maze as you walk through it. The teens like to play in this memorial, running about, hiding and scaring each other.
This was the highlight of our touring today. Magnificent. Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about it: Without a doubt, the Brandenburg Gate is Berlin’s signature attraction. Built in 1791, it was just one of many old city gates around the city of Berlin which, at that time, was still a manageable size. The decorative Pariser Platz was laid at the foot of the gate and is now home to many of the city’s important buildings, for example, the Hotel Adlon with its wealth of history and the Akademie der KÃ¼nste (Academy of the Arts).
Ronald Reagan Brass Plaque
Not more than 100 meters outside the Brandenburg Gate, in a sidewalk, is a brass plaque, placed in 2012, near the spot where President Ronald Reagan delivered his “Tear down this wall” address 25 years prior in Germany. The bronze plaque was designed by artist Helga Lieser. The unveiling was part of the Ronald Reagan Centennial Celebration commemorating what would have been Reagan’s 100th birthday. Learn more.
My cousin’s husband works at the U.S. Embassy here in Berlin, so we were able to get in as visitors today. While we couldn’t actually do a real tour of the embassy, we did have lunch and were able to see a lot of Berlin history there.
Reichstag Building and Dome
We didn’t go inside this place yet, but we toured around it. Here’s some facts from Wikipedia: When the decision was made to move the Federal Government to Berlin, it was time to reawaken the Reichstag building from its long years of slumber on the Mauerstreifen, the military zone between the two sides of the Wall. The building has since been completely modernised, and today’s visitors to the Reichstag can look out from the building’s glass dome to get a bird’s eye view of the hustle and bustle in the city. There are also a number of government buildings in the vicinity of the Reichstag, for example the Bundeskanzleramt (Federal Chancellery).
Once the bustling heart of the city before the Second World War, then a no man’s land from 1945 until the fall of the wall, the history of Potsdamer Platz has been eventful to say the least. It changed completely after the fall of the wall in 1989 and is now dominated by the presence of the Sony Center, skyscrapers and endless shops. What’s more, Potsdamer Platz is the main place to be for stars and celebrities, and not only during film festivals.
Berlin Wall Display
In the heart of Potsdamer Platz was an interesting display of “Berlin Wall” sections. They had plaques on them with pictures and stories about the history of the wall. Interestingly, people seem to adorn these wall sections with bits of chewing gum. Weird.
Throughout the city, where the Berlin Wall once stood, dividing East and West Berlin, there are sections in the pavement that denote where the wall was. Usually brick lines in the pavement. Once such line is in a main intersection of Potsdamer Platz. Here, Nancy and I straddle what once was East and West Berlin.
Berlin Television Tower (Fernsehturm) or Alex Tower
While we did not visit it, many times, we could see this iconic landmark on the horizon. The silver sphere near the center contains a visitor platform and a revolving restaurant. many refer to this tower as the Alex Tower as it sits near Alexanderplatz.
Our hosts treat us very well and it was time for us to treat them 🙂 We treated them to dinner at a nearby restaurant of their choosing. Great choice too! We had Italian food at Trattoria Toscanna. Amber and Ashlyn ordered our dinner in German. They did pretty well. Our Italian waiter, Giuseppe was fun too. I know more Italian than I do German, so I used what little I knew to interact with him. Great meal and great time with family!