The restored historic quarter rammed full of museums and attractions.
The former East-Berlin district of Mitte forms the better part of reunified Berlin’s geographic center. Although alternative sights are now few and far between, it remains a must-see for any tourists. Known for its array of museums and striking architecture, there’s plenty to keep you busy.
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Home to some of Europe’s finest collections, although seeing them all will take much more than a day!
Home to many of Europe’s most prestigious museums and only a stone’s throw from Alexanderplatz, you can easily lose track of time and spend days visiting all the collections on offer. At the Northern side of the island sits the Berliner Dom, a protestant challenge to the Vatican’s St. Peter’s Basilica, which can be marveled whilst enjoying the sun in the Lustgarten.
The Altes Museum, famous for its neoclassical architecture, houses Berlin’s Collection of Classical Antiquities as well as exhibitions on the art and culture of the Etruscans, Romans, and Greeks.
The Bode Museum primarily houses a collection of sculptures and Byzantine Art as well as a fascinating collection of coins and medals.
The Neues Museum, heavily destroyed by allied bombs during World War II and only reopened in 2009, houses Egyptian and prehistoric cultural exhibits, including the iconic bust of Egyptian Queen Nefertiti.
The Pergamonmuseum, the most visited museum in Germany, offers a collection of Islamic Art. Due to renovation work that isn’t set to be completed until 2024, the museum’s namesake Pergamon Altar alongside other substantial collections are not currently open to the public. Despite the works, the Ishtar Gate and the Market Gate of Miletus will remain open. To make up for the partial closure, a temporary exhibition, Pergamonmuseum: The Panorama, offers a grand panoramic visual display reconstructs the city of Pergamon as it was in AD 129.
Reflect upon the darker chapters of German History and see how the Capital remembers the lives lost today.
Be sure to visit the many memorials around the Brandenburg Gate whilst in the area. Most famous and striking is the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe designed by architect Peter Eisenman and inaugurated in 2005.
To walk over the undulating ground and through the 2,711 concrete slabs of which the memorial is made whilst dwelling on a very unfortunate chapter of European History is a very powerful experience. An underground ‘place of information’ was later added to provide more context and is also worth visiting.
Around the corner in the Tiergarten Park is the Memorial to the Sinti and Roma victims of National Socialism which commemorates the 200,000 to 500,000 murdered in the Nazi genocide of European Sinti and Roma populations.
Also in the area is the Memorial to Homosexuals Persecuted under Nazism commemorating those persecuted under Paragraph 175 of the German Penal Code.
The big sights
Save half a day at least to visit some of the city’s biggest attractions all conveniently walking distance from each other.
No visit to Berlin is complete without a stroll down the gorgeous promenade Unter Den Linden. Ducking off to visit some of the main attractions of Berlin can easily occupy the better part of a day. If you’re coming from Alexanderplatz, you’ll first pass Museum Island. A little further down you’ll come to the Humboldt-Universität and Bebelplatz. In the square, you can view the memorial to the infamous Nazi book burning of 10 May 1933, where the students league of the Nazi party piled around 20,000 books taken from the Library and publically burned them.
Around the corner sits Gendarmenmarkt, a square commemorating the French immigration of Huguenots, a Protestant minority who were granted asylum in Prussia following their expulsion from France under the Edict of Potsdam in 1865. One of Berlin’s most stunning architectural sights, the square still houses both a French and German cathedral which sit adjacent to each other before Berlin’s Concert Hall.
Continuing on, you’ll find the former Luftwaffe HQ, at its time the largest office building in Europe and one of the few remaining examples of architecture under the Nazi party, perfectly reflective of Albert Speer’s vision of Germania. Having survived relatively unscathed from WWII, it was used by the DDR as the Council of Ministries and now houses the German Finance Ministry.
At the end of Unter Den Linden stands the famous Brandenburg Gate, one of Germany’s most famous sights. Symbolic not only of the divide between West and East but also of German reunification, it’s become synonymous with freedom, tolerance, and peace. And finally around the corner sits the Reichstag, the seat of the German parliament. Although disused for much of the latter half of the 20th century, it was re-built under designs by architect Norman Foster in 1999. The glass dome, symbolic of transparency, can be visited for free. Whilst this is well worth seeing, bookings must be made in advance and don’t forget to bring your passport!
Rosenthaler Str. 39, 10178 Berlin
This hidden artistic collective has something for everyone.
Mitte may be known for its historic sights, but if you know where to look, you can still find remnants of the alternative culture which thrived in parts of the district following the fall of the Berlin Wall. Tucked away amongst the now trendy alleyways of Hackescher Markt, you’ll find this hidden gem. For your dose of history, you’ll find both the Anne Frank and Otto Weidt Museums. For a little change, visit the surreal Monsterkabinett; part art gallery, part horror house.
Whilst there, why not check the gallery at Nureotitan, find a unique souvenir in their shop, marvel at some of Berlin’s best street art murals and enjoy a laid back coffee at the cosy Café Cinema. Although small, you’ve got plenty to occupy yourself for an afternoon.
Interested in finding out more about Street Art? Take either our Street Art and Graffiti Tour or workshop and our guide will take you through the streets to show you the best Berlin has to offer.
Art Market at Zeughaus
Am Zeughaus 1, 10117 Berlin
Held every Saturday and Sunday, this local market sells a myriad of art made where you can buy the work at fixed prices from the artists themselves.
Molkenmarkt 2, 10179 Berlin
Historically Berlin’s largest mint, it today acts as a fantastic cultural event space. As exhibitions vary, jump on the website to find out what’s on.
Rosenthaler Str. 40/41, 10178 Berlin
This art nouveau theater offers contemporary ‘new circus’ with performances including acrobatics, dance, and music. It also offers a restaurant and a bar. Be sure to check what’s on in advance.
Rathausstraße 21, 10178 Berlin
A reconstructed historical heart of the German capital. Just a short walk from Alexanderplatz, these charming streets, whilst very touristy, are still well worth a visit.
Holzmarktstraße 25, 10243 Berlin
Among the newest of Berlin’s many famous techno clubs. Friendly atmosphere and not as dark and dingy as other clubs. Open Friday to Monday, check ahead to see who’s playing.
Friedrichstraße 43-45, 10117 Berlin
Horrendously touristy but still worth a quick visit. The most famous checkpoint between East and West Berlin during the division of Germany has its fair share of history including being the site where Soviet and American tanks faced off over the border in 1961.