Berlin at a Glance

A Quick Guide to the German Capital

In this part of our Berlin guide you’ll find an alphabetical list of what to see in the German capital. For more detailed information about a sight or attraction see the full guide. Some items have a direct link to more information or photos.

Neues Museum

The Egyptian Court in Berlin’s Neues Museum on Museum Island. PHOTO © Hyde Flippo

Berlin Sights at a Glance | Überblick von Berlin

The “Alex,” as Berliners call this square, is the former center of East Berlin. Today it is a booming attraction for Berlin locals and tourists, with shopping, entertainment, and the tallest TV tower in Germany. (See the World Time Clock photo below.)

Discover German film history in this town next to Potsdam.

This is a museum devoted to the Bauhaus school of architecture, art, and industrial design. It was built in 1979 based on a design by the Bauhaus architect Walter Gropius.


Berlin’s Top 10 Sights
If your time is limited, here are 10 of the German capital’s must-see attractions (all with links on this page):

  • Reichstag | Germany’s parliament with a view!
  • Brandenburg Gate | Berlin’s gateway symbol at one end of Unter den Linden (also worth a stroll)
  • Berlin Wall | Especially Bernauer Strasse, the East Side Gallery and the Checkpoint Charlie museum
  • Deutsches Historisches Museum | German history on display
  • Pergamon Museum | Greek and Babylonian treasures come alive
  • Potsdamer Platz | Berlin’s historic square has taken on a new life
  • Alexanderplatz and TV Tower | The old East Berlin center has been reborn
  • Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church | An iconic, historic symbol of the city (and near the zoo)
  • Gendarmenmarkt | Inviting square with churches on two sides and Huguenot Museum
  • Sanssouci Palace | Take the S-Bahn to Potsdam to see Frederick the Great’s summer palace.

The former headquarters for the Nazi Wehrmacht (army) is where Claus Schenk von Stauffenberg was shot after his failed assassination attempt on Hitler on July 20, 1944.

Berlin Airlift Memorial and Tempelhof Airport
One of the Cold War’s first scuffles happened in Berlin. More…

Berlin Wall
The best places to see what’s left of the Wall: Bernauer Strasse, Checkpoint Charlie, and the East Side Gallery on Mühlstraße (near the Ostbahnhof train station).

Brandenburg Gate
The number one icon and landmark of Berlin is das Brandenburger Tor. Designed by Carl Gotthard Langhans for King Friedrich Wilhelm II and completed in 1791, the Brandenburg Gate and the Quadriga horse-and-chariot sculpture atop it have shared the fate of the city it stands in.

Charlottenburg Palace
This beautiful baroque palace and its French-style park suffered extensive damage during World War II, but they have been well restored and are a definite must-see.

Checkpoint Charlie
The Allied checkpoint “C” on Friedrichstraße was the only one that non-Germans could use to cross between West and East Berlin. A nearby museum keeps its memory alive.

East Side Gallery
An accident of history is the only reason the longest intact section of the Berlin Wall (almost a mile) is still standing relatively well preserved.

Einstein Tower

The Einstein Tower in the Science Park in Potsdam. PHOTO © Hyde Flippo

Einstein Tower
Originally built in 1921 as a solar telescope to verify Albert Einstein’s Theory of Releativity, the Einsteinturm in Potsdam now functions as a working solar observatory. See photo above.

The giant Alexanderplatz TV tower was built as a symbol of socialism in 1969. The 1,198 ft (365 m) tall concrete structure features an observation deck and a revolving restaurant with great views of the city.

Filmpark Babelsberg
A theme park with stunts, exhibits, and film sets. I think it’s much more interesting to tour the actual Studio Babelsberg (film and TV) next door.

Running almost due north from Mehringplatz, crossing Unter den Linden, and over the Spree River to Oranienburger Tor, the avenue known as Friedrichstraße dates back to 1743. Trendy shopping and various Berlin landmarks are found on or near this thoroughfare.

Funkturm and Messegelände
Berlin’s 500-foot Radio Tower dates back to 1924. It resembles an angular Eiffel Tower.

Galeries Lafayette
This French department store on Friedrichstraße has a long history in Berlin. See “Friedrichstraße” above.

Over the centuries, Berlin has had a lot of French influence, and here you can see some tangible evidence. The Gendarmenmarkt square is only a few blocks south of Unter den Linden.

Haus am Checkpoint Charlie
The “Mauermuseum” is devoted to the history of the Berlin Wall and the various attempts to escape from East Berlin.

Holocaust Memorial
Opened to the public in May 2005, Berlin’s Denkmal für die ermordeten Juden Europas is a collection of 2,711 stelae that covers an entire city block.

Jewish Museum
Berlin’s Jüdisches Museum on Lindenstraße opened in 1989 in a striking building designed by Polish-American architect Daniel Libeskind.

The Kaufhaus des Westens (KaDeWe) on Tauentzienstraße is the largest department store in continental Europe. (See Kurfürstendamm below.)

Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church
Completed in 1895, the church was badly damaged by Allied bombs in 1943. The stone shell of the structure was left standing as a reminder of the horrors of war.

Once a separate town much older than Berlin, Köpenick is well worth a visit.

This area around Potsdamer Straße (close to Potsdamer Platz) has been developed as a museum and cultural center, beginning with the Philharmonie (Philharmonic concert hall) in 1961.

The Ku’damm was West Berlin’s main shopping area when the Wall divided the city. Today the two-mile long tree-lined avenue is still a key shopping zone and an enjoyable place to stroll by shops, cafés, cinemas, and Berlin’s famous KaDeWe department store.

Marlene Dietrich’s Grave
The German-American film star was born in Schöneberg in 1901 (before it was part of Berlin). Although she died in Paris in 1993, she asked to be buried in her hometown.

Mercedes-Benz Arena
Opening ceremonies for the O2 World Stadium in Berlin took place in September 2008. Now known as the Mercedes-Benz Arena, up to 17,000 people can attend concerts and sporting events here. Located near the Oberbaum bridge near the Spree river.

Egyptian section

Part of the Egyptian collection in the Neues Museum on Museum Island. PHOTO © Hyde Flippo

Museum Island lies at the eastern end of Unter den Linden (see below) and is a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site. On the island in the Spree, you will find five of Berlin’s top museums, including the newly renovated Neues Museum with its notable Egyptian collection, and the Pergamon with its Greek altar and magnificent Ishtar Gate.

Neue Synagoge
Located on Oranienburger Str., just a short walk from the Oranienburger Tor intersection at the north end of Friedrichstraße, Berlin’s New Synagogue is now a museum.

Enjoy a walk (or run) across this beautiful red brick bridge which crosses the Spree between the Schlesisches Tor U-Bahn station and Warschauer Str. S-Bahn station. The bridge, near the East Side Gallery, was first completed in 1894.

Berlin Olympic Stadium

The Olympic Stadium in Berlin was home to the 1936 Olympic Games, hosted by Adolf Hitler. PHOTO © Hyde Flippo

Olympic Stadium
The Olympia-Stadion in Berlin was built for the 1936 Olympic Games immortalized by Leni Riefenstahl in her groundbreaking documentary film Olympia. Today it hosts pro soccer games and special events. See photo above.

Potsdam and Sanssouci
This city of palaces southwest of Berlin is well worth a visit, and you can combine it with a tour of the Babelsberg film studios. See Potsdam and Sanssouci for more.

Potsdamer Platz
A barren wasteland during the Cold War, this square has been rebuilt and is one of Berlin’s prime places to see, including the Sony Center entertainment complex (cinemas, museums, restaurants, etc.).

It is difficult to find a more historic building in Berlin than the German parliament — or one that better reflects today’s Germany. Originally completed in 1894, the Reichstag building was damaged by fire in 1933, almost destroyed in World War II, and renovated in the 1990s. You can visit the dome and the legislative chamber. More…

Rotes Rathaus
Completed in 1869, the “Red City Hall” is named for the red bricks of its walls. Today Berlin’s mayor, Klaus Wowereit, has his office in the Rotes Rathaus.

Sachsenhausen Memorial and Museum
Most notorious for an April 1945 evacuation “death march” of 36,000 prisoners which killed thousands, the Sachsenhausen concentration camp was built in 1936 by the Nazis. It lies north of Berlin in Oranienburg. Take the S-Bahn to Oranienburg. The museum is about a mile from the station – on foot, or via bus/taxi.

Sanssouci Park
Once the private grounds of Brandenburg’s royalty, this large park in Potsdam containing several palaces and gardens is one of the most beautiful in all of Europe. See Potsdam and Sanssouci for more.

Schloss Cecilienhof
Once home to the Hohenzollern royal family in Potsdam, this palace, built between 1914 and 1917, hosted the 1945 Potsdam Conference attended by Truman, Churchill and Stalin. See Potsdam and Sanssouci for more.

Schöneberg Town Hall
From 1948 to 1990, the Rathaus Schöneberg was the main Berlin town hall. It is probably best known as the site of John F. Kennedy’s June 1963 “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech.

Sony Center
The top magnet spot within the Potsdamer Platz complex features shops, cinemas, a film museum, restaurants and other attractions.

Spandau Citadel
The 16th century Zitadelle Spandau lies in the far western part of Berlin at the confluence of the Spree and Havel rivers.

Literally, the “animal garden,” Berlin’s large Tiergarten park lies like a huge green patch right in the middle of the city.

TV Tower
The giant Alexanderplatz Fernsehturm was built as an icon of socialism in 1969. The 1,198 ft (365 m) tall concrete structure features an observation deck and a revolving restaurant with great views of the city.

Unter den Linden
The Berlin avenue known as “under the linden trees” stretches between the Brandenburg Gate to the west and Museum Island and the Spree River to the east.

Word Time Clock

The World Time Clock (Weltzeituhr) is a Berlin landmark found at Alexanderplatz, here seen with the Park Inn hotel in the background. PHOTO © Hyde Flippo

The World Time Clock is a Berlin landmark found at Alexanderplatz. As it slowly rotates, you can see the time at any given spot on the globe. See the photo above.

Zoologischer Garten
Berlin has one of the world’s finest zoos, and there’s another one (der Tierpark) in the eastern part of the city.

Next | Berlin City Guide

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