A guide to the Top five Places to visit on a trip to Berlin – Nouse

Berlin – a city known for its cultural diversity and cosmopolitan lifestyle. Yet if you look beyond its vibrancy, you will find a difficult, contested history. Throughout the city, it is possible to find testaments of this. From museums and memorials to run down buildings. A few years ago, I was lucky enough to visit Berlin myself and the two sides of the city are striking: on one side, you have the modernity of a fast moving city, and on the other, a haunted past lingering in the crevices of Berlin, an ever-present reminder of the difficulties the city has faced. That being said, here are five different places everyone should visit on any trip to Ber-lin. They are a combination of past and present, as although Berlin’s recent history is difficult, it should not be forgotten.

The Reichstag Dome:
The Reichstag is an obvious place to begin on a mainstream tour of Berlin, however, less people know it is possible to enter its famous dome that sits on top of the building. For a small charge, a bit of queuing through security checks, and then a long lift ride up to the dome, once you’re inside, you can walk up to the very top of the dome on a gradually sloping path. It is the perfect moment to take in incredible views of the city: from the top you can see Berlin’s well-known TV tower, the Brandenburg gate and plenty of other landmarks. It is the perfect photo opportunity to remember your trip to Berlin by. I was lucky enough to go into the dome at night: the city was beautifully lit up and it was incredible to see the vibrant nightlife of the city from up high.

The Empty Library:
Also known as the Bibliothek, the Empty Library is a memorial dedicated to the remembrance of the Nazi book burnings which took place in Berlin on 10 May1933 in Bebelplatz. In the book burnings, Nazi students destroyed around 20,000 books written by Liberal, Jewish and Communist authors. The memorial is set in the ground and can be viewed through a square glass panel set in the pavement on the site where the book burnings took place. Beneath the glass panel is a room lined with empty book shelves, enough to house 20,000 books, to represent the books that were destroyed on that day. The memorial is a subtle but moving reminder of the violence Berlin experienced in the 20th century, and is definitely worth visiting to reflect on the city’s difficult past.

Checkpoint Charlie:
One of the more famous tourist attractions in Berlin, Checkpoint Charlie should definitely be a stop on the tour for anyone interested in the city’s history. Officially known as Checkpoint C, Checkpoint Charlie was the most well-known crossing point of the Berlin Wall throughout the second half of the twentieth century. Despite the Wall collapsing in 1989, Checkpoint Charlie still stands in the middle of the road that was once one of the only connections between east and west. For anyone wanting to find out more about this part of the city’s history, nearby is the Checkpoint Charlie Museum, selling a range of merchandise and giving an in-depth history of the Checkpoint and history of the Berlin Wall itself.

Rausch Chocolate House:
If you have a sweet tooth, then you absolutely need to visit Rausch Chocolate House, the largest chocolate house in the world. Inside is a beautiful chocolate café, serving a range of drinking chocolate, desserts, cupcakes and, of course, chocolates. With beautiful views of the city, the chocolate café is the perfect place to relax after a busy morning of sightseeing. Rausch also boasts an incredible chocolate shop: the floor is adorned with incredible chocolate models of iconic Berlin landmarks, like the Brandenburg gate, and sells a fabulous range of chocolate delights. It is all reasonably priced and is perfect for taking back to your accommodation to eat later or as gifts for family to take home.

The Ampelmann Shops:
Once you’ve been to all these places, it is likely you will have had to cross the road and seethe iconic Ampelmann illuminate the pedestrian traffic lights. Ampelmann translates literally to ‘Little traffic light man’. The Berlin Ampelmann wears a little hat and when red, he stands with his arms horizontal, when green, he strikes a walking pose. The image of the Ampelmann has become so associated with Berlin that numerous shops have popped up across the city selling everything from Ampelmann t-shirts and socks to postcards, keyrings and sweets. If you happen to see one when taking in the city, head inside to pick up some brilliant merch to remember your trip to Berlin by.

Berlin has much to explore, whether you’re interested in history, culture or just some good food. These are just five of the many important and incredible sites anyone should visit on a trip to Berlin. If you have the opportunity to go, take it, the city has so much to offer, and a significant but difficult history that should be remembered through visiting.

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