If you don’t want to spend too much time here (and believe me, you could), head down Am Kupfergraben-street towards Bahnhof Friedrichstrasse. On weekends, the street is closed for traffic for an arts- and book- flea market.
Am Kupfergraben-street by Jeremy Keith
Friedrichstrasse Bahnhof (station) is one of Berlin’s main city stations and built in 1878 – during World War 2 it was used both for the deportation of Berlin Jews to concentration camps and at the same time for the earlier transports of young Jewish refugees to the UK (the so-called ‘Kindertransporte’), which saved the lives of 10,000 children. There’s a memorial outside the station building, representing two groups of children with toys and suitcases facing opposite directions.
Friedrichstrasse also offer a few shopping options with the famous Dussmann Kulturkaufhaus dedicated to books and music nearby; some nice cafes and restaurants (like the ‘Ständige Vertretung’ or ‘permanent mission’, a restaurant offering specialities and local beers from the Rhineland). And once you’ve done shopping and eating, you can reach most Berlin stations and airports from here.
From the gate, you can follow one of Germany’s most famous boulevards: Unter den Linden (under the linden trees). The boulevard sits at the heart of this historic section of Berlin, developed from a bridle path laid out by Elector John George of Brandenburg in the 16th century to reach his hunting grounds in the Tiergarten. It was replaced by a boulevard of linden trees planted in 1647.
By the 19th century, as Berlin grew and expanded to the west, Unter den Linden became the best-known and grandest street with the best hotels in Berlin. In the course of the building of a new tunnel for the Berlin S-Bahn in 1934–35, most of the linden trees were cut down and replaced by marble-and-iron torch holders installed by pompous-loving Nazi officials. The linden were replanted in the 1950 and remain here to this day.
Unter den Linden by Dimitry B.
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Walking down the boulevard from west to east, you pass the imposing Russian embassy immediately after walking past the restored Adlon hotel right next to the Brandenburg Gate. Further down are State Library and one of the main buildings of the Humboldt University, followed by the Neue Wache, a Schinkel-designed war memorial from 1816 which today houses an enlarged version of Käthe Kollwitz’s haunting sculpture Mutter mit totem Sohn (mother with her dead son). This sculpture is positioned directly under an opening in the ceiling and is exposed to the elements, symbolising the suffering of civilians during World War II.
The Brandenburg Gate by Stacey Cavanagh
You now cross the river Spree for the first time, crossing the Schlossbrücke (castle bridge), which led to the former Berlin city castle which was located in the now empty spot on your right (the seat of the GDR parliament, the Palast der Republik had replaced the former castle after World War 2 and was pulled down in 2008). To your left is the Museum Island. This island is home to a plethora of museums like the Pergamon Museum housing the old Greek Pergamon Altar and the market gate of Miletus, and the Neues Museum with its Egyptian collection and the famous bust of Nefertiti. Also located on the island is the Berlin Cathedral, one of the oldest buildings here: it dates back to 1451.
Most of Berlin’s main sights are located within the central Mitte district, from the primary boulevard Unter den Linden to the Museum Island and the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. Local insider Marcel Krueger takes a walk to discover the best of the area. Before we start, have a look at HotelCalculator.com’s selection of cheap hotels in Berlin.
Mitte: Television Tower by Oh-Berlin.com
The Berlin district of Mitte (center) is vast. It covers 40 square kilometres, is home to 330,000 people and incorporates the historical districts of Tiergarten, Moabit, Wedding and old Mitte proper. When Berliners speak of Mitte, they do usually refer to the older and smaller locality and not to the larger official district.
So if you try and tour it all it may take a while. But for the sake of this walking guide we’ll stick to the area most locals perceive as ‘central’ Berlin, which is also especially interesting for visitors due to the density of sights here. Your starting point is Potsdamer Platz hotels, in the 1920s the busiest intersection in Europe. Today it is a showpiece of modern Berlin architecture with the only skyscrapers in town and nearby Sony Center with its impressive umbrella canopy.
Sony Center Rooftop by Jean-Pierre Dalbéra
Walking up Ebertstrasse from here, you soon reach one of the most visited sites in Berlin, the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe (Denkmal für die ermordeten Juden Europas), a somber forest of concrete slabs of various height with its own micro-climate in the centre of the memorial – it’s always a few degrees colder than on the outside here. In stark contrast to the memorial is the former location of Adolf Hitler’s Führerbunker right behind the memorial, today a car park.
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Just one block further north along Ebertstrasse, right behind the US embassy, lies the second famous Berlin landmark after the TV tower: the Brandenburg Gate. Erected in 1788, it marks the location of one of Berlin’s old city gates. Napoleon was the first to use the Brandenburg Gate for a triumphal procession and took its quadriga to Paris. After Napoleon’s defeat in 1814 and the Prussian occupation of Paris, the quadriga was restored to Berlin. When the Nazis ascended to power they used the gate as a party symbol for their infamous torch marches. The Gate survived World War II and was one of the damaged structures still standing in the Pariser Platz ruins in 1945.
Following Germany’s surrender and the end of the war, the governments of East Berlin and West Berlin tried to restore it – but the workers patched bullet and shrapnel holes so badly that the scars of war remained visible for many years. During the Cold War, the gate itself and the surrounding areas where basically no-mans-land, as the Berlin Wall ran directly in front of it. During the fall of the wall in November 1989 and the first new-years-eve-party that Berliners could celebrate together, it became the backdrop for one huge party. In December 2000, the Brandenburg Gate was privately refurbished and the bullet holes finally disappeared.
At only 700 m above sea level in the heart of the Kitzbüheler alps you will find the charming Austrian town of St. Johann in Tirol. Among the 119 austria ski resorts in Austrian Tyrol, the town is preferred as a family destination of comfort and ease for a great and relaxing winter holiday. With population of about 8 000, which is more than the lodging base for tourists, St. Johann in Tyrol will welcome you in its ongoing life to become part of everyday Tyrolean habits and entertainment.
The town is part of the Schneewinkel pass in the Tyrolean Alps, which gives direct access to 170 km of skiing runs. Despite of its considerably small altitude, skiable slopes in St. Johann in Tirol are facing north thus guaranteeing great amount of snow from December to April. The longer skiing season attracts many tourists from neighbour resorts, especially in early spring and in weekends. St. Johann in Tirol is perfect mainly for beginners and lower intermediates. 60 km of downhill runs offer novice skiers the best area to initiate and practice. The resort has really taken care of assuring the best conditions for learning and improving – excellent skiing schools with most competent instructors and variety of easy and medium terrains. Families will be pleased to have their children’s first skiing lessons here. The resort also has one halfpipe to please all snowboard fans. Though it is true that expert skiers and snowboarders could not be really tempted by St. Johann in Tirol’s runs, they can take advantage of the town’s cosy and relaxing atmosphere and try the challenging pistes of Kitzbuehel, which is only 10 minutes away. Besides, a modern free ski bys connects the town with the closest skiing resort of Fieberbrunn and Waidring-Steinplatte giving direct access to 168 km of skiable slopes of great variety and opportunities for advanced skiers and boarders.
Cross country skiers will prefer this destination for many reasons. 275 km of beautiful mountain trails and great opportunities to practice and improve! St. Johann in Tirol hosts the annual cross country skiing competition “Koasalauf” with more than 2000 participants taking part in it.
Besides the many opportunities for initiation and practicing your favourite winter sport, St. Johann in Tirol offers you all the advantages and facilities of a resort town. It has a railway station so access is really easy. A lot of nice restaurants, bars and cafes, some of the best zell am see hotels will make you immerse in town’s everyday life – traditions, people, habits and famous Tyrolean hospitality. It gives you, at the same time, the comfort and relax of a small town with unique atmosphere.
Looking for the perfect family vacation, or being an eager amateur skier, this is your perfect winter destination. In fact, many professionals love it for its “civilized” and calm atmosphere combined with the traditional Tyrolean charm and alpine beautiful scenery.