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Berlin must see attractions
Alexanderplatz is a pedestrian and transport hub, including everything from high-end shopping to panoramic views of the city. Named after the Russian Csar Alexander I and later becoming the center of East Germany during the Cold War, today's "Alex" includes all the luxuries of a Western metropolitan center.
The history of Brandenburg Gate – an enormous, sandstone, neoclassical arch – is inextricably linked with the history of Berlin and Germany. Built in 1791 to mark the entrance to Unter den Linden, Berlin's grandest boulevard, the arch was originally created as a symbol of peace. Standing 85-feet (30-meters) high, the Brandenburg Gate was modeled on the gateway to the Acropolis in Athens. When Napoleon defeated the Prussians in 1806, he marched triumphantly through the gate into Berlin, before taking the gate’s crowning statue, Victoria, the Goddess of Victory, back to France as a spoil of war. Victoria was later returned and once again sits atop the gate driving her chariot of horses.
Berlin Zoo, or Zoologischer Garten in German, covers 84 acres (34 hectares) in the impressive Tiergarten park in the city center. The zoo opened in 1844 and was almost completely decimated in World War II. Now one of Europe's great zoological gardens, it’s home to nearly 18,000 animals from 1,500 species. It's attracted its fair share of celebrity too. It was here the polar bear Knut became an international star a few years ago, idolized through merchandise and TV appearances, before sadly passing away in 2011.
Potsdamer Platz is one of the world’s great success stories in urban renewal. After World War II, when Berlin was divided along political lines, Potsdamer Platz (Potsdam Square) became a no-man's-land. Once the busiest traffic intersection in Europe, it was suddenly stranded between East and West Berlin. When the Wall came down, the reunified city was desperate to return the square to its former glory. Design competitions were held and the entire area became Europe’s largest building site. Today it’s filled with daring architecture, corporate headquarters, residential areas, shopping plazas, cinemas and public spaces. Most importantly it has created a healing link between the once divided city.
Head to Charlottenburg’s famous boulevard to experience the glamour of old Berlin coupled with the style of contemporary cosmopolitan Europe. The historic Kurfuerstendamm is one of the city’s oldest streets and was built as a route to a prominent hunting lodge now on the outskirts of the city. Today, exclusive boutiques, major department stores and luxury hotels line Kurfuerstendamm, or Kudamm as locals sometimes call the street. At its eastern end find a somber reminder of the bombings of Berlin during World War II.
Lined by some of Germany’s most exclusive department stores and surrounded by major historical attractions, the Friedrichstrasse cultural and shopping precinct in Berlin’s Mitte district has undergone extreme change since the fall of the Berlin Wall. However, at its center find one of the city’s most unusual tourist attractions, throwing you back into the Cold War era. Friedrichstrasse is today one of Berlin’s most visited streets. It is home to Checkpoint Charlie, one of the very few Cold War border crossings between East and West Berlin.
See a bird’s-eye view of of Berlin from Alexanderplatz’s iconic TV Tower (Fernsehturm). The distinctive Berlin landmark reaches 1,207.3 feet (368 meters) into the sky and is the tallest structure in Germany. The tower’s viewing platform offers 360-degree views at 666 feet (203 meters) above the ground. Take in the view while enjoying a meal at Fernsehturm’s revolving restaurant.