Tuesday, December 15, 2015

GERMANY: The Heart of Berlin

By guest blogger Philip Game.

We’re right in the heart of Berlin, yet the two-stop journey to the gleaming new glass-and-steel Hauptbahnhof (central station) requires a tortuous transfer at the gloomy old Friedrichstrasse station. Why so disjointed? And whatever happened to Unter den Linden, that once-grand boulevard running east from the Brandenburg Gate?

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These questions do have answers. Today’s Berlin makes better sense as you come to appreciate the city's tortured history and the apparent determination to reunite East and West. Unter den Linden remains a construction site while work continues to restore the missing links in the U-Bahn (underground train) network.


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Berlin's idiosyncratic personality is said to date back to the Cold War days, when young West Germans made their way to West Berlin to enjoy free tuition and exemption from military service. West Berliners lived day-to-day alongside a hostile presence, the Wall and the regime behind it.

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Today, the Berlin Wall has all but vanished, although token stretches remain as canvasses for street artists too young to remember life in a divided city. But if you weren’t born yesterday, and remember when the Iron Curtain collapsed 25 years ago, do visit Berlin whilst you can still witness vestiges of the old, alongside the new.

www.visitberlin.de

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