It took nearly a full generation, but the city of Berlin finally succeeded in rising from the ashes of the Cold War and showing the world that it belonged on the global stage. Germany's extraordinarily successful hosting of the 2006 World Cup culminated at its reunified capital city, with the final being held in the storied Olympic Stadium, where seventy years earlier was held the very Olympics made famous by Jesse Owens.
But the sixteen years between reunification and the World Cup Finals saw Berlin undergoing total rehab. During the four visits I made there between 2000 and 2004, I witnessed various stages of the overhaul -- including the complete renovation of the Brandenburg Gate, its adjacent market square the Pariser Platz, and the full Unter den Linden. Much of the evidence of the city's former divide (the Berlin Wall) has been replaced by simple markings on the ground and the erection of a couple museums.
Originally, this travelogue was built in two chapters and a photo gallery, but with the completion of the city I felt it was worth expanding to four with a gallery. One chapter focuses on the former West Berlin, which became very cosmopolitan during the occupation of American, British, and French forces. This district looked much like any regular western European or American city, teeming with the usual slate of chain department stores. It also held the Tiergarten, Olympic Stadium and the beautiful Schloss Charlottenburg. Two chapters focus on the former East. One is on the famous Unter den Linden that ran from the Brandenburg Gate to the Museum Insel, containing Berlin's Cathedral and the Pergamon Museum. The other chapter, titled East Berlin, covers the rest of the East, including the Rathausplatz, the Alexanderplatz and a walk around portions of the city that perhaps have not yet recovered from the Cold War. I devoted a full chapter to the Berlin Wall itself, including the Berlin Wall Museums, the famous Checkpoint Charlie, and other memorials. Meanwhile, the Berlin Gallery chapter is a catch-all for photographs that didn't make it into the other chapters.
The map below shows how these chapters lay out geographically. The sectors depicting the former West and East are not precise and intended just for illustration and hyperlink. Also, the path of the Berlin Wall is only partial. It is not the whole city, I pretty much concentrating my tours along a west-east axis. There are a considerable number of attractions all around, so visitors are encouraged to pick up a good quality city guide so nothing is missed. If we do get back to Berlin, I suspect we'll spend a lot more time in the West.
Trips taken 13-14 April 2001, 29-30 June 2002, 13-15 February 2004 -- Page last updated 18 August 2006 -- (C) 2002 Tom Galvin