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City of Berlin

March 14, 2012

Berlin is Germany's capital, not only officially, but also in the realms of art, theater and nightlife. Since Germany's reunification, the city has kept reinventing itself, welcoming people from all corners of the globe.

Fireworks erupt above Berlin's Brandenburg Gate
Fireworks commemorate the new year at Berlin's Brandenburg GateImage: picture-Alliance/dpa

The Brandenburg Gate is Berlin's landmark, recognized by people all over the world. However, the city is more than just a collection of Cold War reminders and remnants of history. It's also the cultural metropolis of Germany.

When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, huge empty spaces appeared in the city. This is why some of the most modern glass, steel and concrete architecture can be found right next to grand historic buildings. It is this contrast and this "work-in-progress" state of affairs that attracts so many people to Berlin. Twenty years after the fall of the Wall, people of 195 different nationalities live there today.

Contrasts and variety

Berlin is as varied as its population. Different cultures and styles complement each other here. In the central district or Bezirk Mitte, there are many historic buildings and places of interest, such as the Humboldt University on the elegant and famous boulevard Unter den Linden. A bit further out is the young, hip part of the city, with designer stores, cafes and bars. The various institutes of Berlin's four universities are scattered all over the place, creating a student atmosphere. And everywhere you look, there are street artists, performers and art projects, which sometimes transform the city itself into an artistic experiment.

New freedom on an historical stage

Many places in Berlin carry reminders of its history. This was where the German emperors reigned, where the Nazis expressed their wrath, and this was the city that got divided into two after the Second World War. The socialist German Democratic Republic, which proclaimed the east part of Berlin as its capital, arranged for a wall to be built across the city in 1961. The wall fell in 1989 as part of a peaceful revolution. This history made Berlin a popular setting for spy dramas for decades to come.

A section of the Berlin Wall and the former so-called "Death Zone," the Charlottenburg Palace, the engraved cobblestones in front of many buildings that memorialize the victims of National Socialism - all of this historical evidence is as much a part of the city as the thousands of students and artists from all over the world who enjoy the freedoms and pleasures of the new Berlin.

Author: Karin Kails