As I mentioned in my previous post, this past week I traveled to Berlin. Below are my top ten favorite sites in the city, by no means an exhaustive list of all that Berlin has to offer.
German for “television tower” the Fernsehturm was erected between 1965-1969 by the former German Democratic Republic (GDR). At 368 meters the tower is the tallest structure in Germany.
2. Pariser Platz
The Brandenburg Gate sits beyond this sign for the Pariser Platz Square. The name of the square references the Allied occupation of France’s capital city in 1814. Prussian Architect Carl Gotthard Langhans (1732-1808) designed the neo-classical gate in the early 1790s, crowning the end of Unter Den Linden. Before World War II Pariser Platz (formerly known as Vierack, meaning simply “square”) was regarded as the most opulent square in Berlin; however, by the end of the second World War much of the buildings in this square were leveled. Today the square once again houses the American and French Embassies.
3. Berliner Dom
Father and son architect team, Julius and Otto Raschdorff constructed the Berlin Cathedral in the high Neo-Renaissance style. The church, which is technically not a cathedral as it has never been the seat for a bishop, was inaugurated on February 27, 1905.
4. Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe
The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe (also known as the Holocaust Memorial) was designed by architect Peter Eisenman and engineer Buro Happold consists of 2,711 slabs of concrete that vary in height. As I walked into the center of the memorial for the Jewish victims of the Holocaust, the change in temperature was palpable. It actually felt much colder in the center of the memorial, completely void of human warmth. The memorial was inaugurated in 2005, two years after construction began on this €25 million project.
5. Jewish Museum Berlin
Architect Daniel Libeskind said in 2000 of his building that it is “like other museums, with white walls where pictures can be hung and objects exhibited.” I respectfully disagree. Yes, there are white walls, but the space is vacuous and there seems to be no set way to experience the content. Inside it was eerie and full of pockets of completely unused space. From the exterior when I visited the Jewish Museum Berlin, there was a faint pink glow on the zinc facade of the Libeskind addition which opened in 2001.
*The American Architect Daniel Libeskind (b. 1946 in Łódź, Poland) was formerly head of the Architecture department (from 1978-1985) at my alma mater, Cranbrook Academy of Art.
6. Berlin Wall Memorial
The Berlin Wall Memorial was established by the Federal Republic of Germany in 1998 “in memory of the city’s division from 13 August 1961 to 9 November 1989 and of the victims of communist tyranny” by the German architects Kohlhoff & Kohlhoff. Along with sixty meters of the former border which have been artistically rearranged, there is the Chapel of Reconciliation, the Documentation Center, the outdoor exhibition, and the Visitors’ Center in this site. The construction is expected to end this year.
A 1.3km-long section of the wall near the center of Berlin between Oberbaumbrücke (Oberbaum Bridge) and the Ostbahnhof includes 106 paintings by artists from all over the world in the Berlin Wall East Side Gallery. As you can see from my picture, graffiti is unsuccessfully discouraged on this portion of the wall.
Berlin Kulturforum is a center of cultural importance near Potsdamer Platz which includes the concert halls Philharmonie and the Chamber Music Hall, the Neue Staatsbibliothek, and my favorite, the Gemäldegalerie. The short list of my favorite paintings in this picture gallery include:
Lucas Cranach der Ältere (1472 – 1553), Flugelaltar mit dem Jungsten Gericht, 1524.
9. New National Gallery
A short walk down from the Gemäldegalerie is Mies van der Rohe‘s New National Gallery, 1968. The building is comprised of eight mammoth steel columns that stand 28 feet tall. Said columns have been decreased in height by about five inches on the side, lending an unlikely air of lightness. Spanning the beginning of modern art to art of the 1960s, the collection includes works by Kirchner, Picasso, Klee, and Kokoschka.
Once again, I will list my favorites from this collection:
10. Bauhaus Archives
Last but not least, the Bauhaus Archive Museum is an excellent example of architecture from Walter Gropius, the founder of the Bauhaus (1913-1933). It was built from 1976-1979 and houses a vast collection of Bauhaus architecture, furniture, ceramics, metalwork, photography, stage pieces and student work from the most important design school of the 20th century. There are also numerous works from the impressive cast of teachers of the Bauhaus in the archives such as Walter Gropius, Johannes Itten, Paul Klee, Wasily Kandinsky, Josef Albers, László Moholy-Nagy and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.