Berlin, Germany's vibrant capital is slowly emerging from the turmoil of post-unification, confronting the world with a newly-found self-confidence.
Change is the only constant in Berlin, Germany's forever-moving, vibrant capital. Marked by division, blemished by reminders of its troublesome historic past, this city is slowly emerging from the turmoil of post-unification, confronting the world with a newly-found, ambitious self-confidence.
Within a decade, the face of Berlin has undergone such rapid change, that many a Berlin citizen or visitor may at times fail to recognise this new, glittering city. Whole districts have undergone renovation, modern housing has been built in run-down areas, and huge, glittering skyscrapers have been erected in once empty spaces.
The city has seen political regimes come and go: it was Germany's capital during the days of the German Empire and the "Kaiser", during the Weimar Republic and throughout the 12 years of the Nazi dictatorship. During the post-war division of Germany, East Berlin was the capital of East Germany, whereas the democratic western German state chose Bonn as the seat of its government. After German reunification in 1990, Berlin was again made the official German capital.
At first glance, this "new" Berlin presents a proud, cosmopolitan face. Berlin yearns to become a metropolitan European capital once again. A sense of unique optimism prevails in the city. However, Berlin is still struggling to compete with neighbouring European capitals such as London and Paris in terms of grandeur and glamour.
Berlin's citizens are increasingly fed up with dirty streets, dilapidated schools and recurring right-wing demonstrations. In addition, the city is in a perilous financial position. The money shortage is now also threatening Berlin's cultural gems. In a city where billions have been spent on spectacular new architecture, it's feared that an austerity programme could force the closure of some of the city's renowned cultural institutions.
Berlin demands excavation. The German capital has a large array of hidden treasures, tucked away behind its new facade. Embark on a trip to the "new" Berlin: Find out more about the people and places off the beaten track and feel the beat of Berlin's elusive, but captivating heart.