Berlin palace

Our first day in Berlin was about exploring and reading about so many depressing historical happenings so on our 2nd day we took the Underground back to the main station and walked to the Alexanderplatz.

Berlin palaceThe tower of the Berlin Palace with sculptures

This is situated in the most central of Berlin known as The Mitte and most of the area fell under East Berlin until 1989 when the Wall was demolished. Within the Alexanderplatz there is so much to see and do we spent most of the morning here. This is just one of many squares in Berlin but is the most popular because one finds both the TV Tower and the World clock here.

At entrance to the TowerAn entrance to the Tower

Time Clock and TV TowerThe World Clock with the TV Tower behind

First we visited the TV Towe,r considered a must view when in Berlin. There was a very long queue of people waiting to purchase tickets to go to the top of the 368m tower by lift and, once up there, go to the Sphere Restaurant from which there are stunning views of the whole city. As we wanted to see as much as possible we declined the ride but spent a good half hour going around the walls of the ground floor reading of TV Towers around the world and how they compared in height. South Africa’s Hillbrow Tower is included in the display but is short in comparison to Berlin’s at just 269m. It was not the shortest shown here though and only those over 200m were depicted. It is hard to believe that there are TV towers lower than 200m anywhere in the world, unless they are situated at a high altitude, I guess.

From the Tower we walked across to a beautiful permanent Flea Market where almost everything was available. The stalls were all wooden and beautifully decorated. I presume that it is similar to the one which experienced the deathly and devastating truck attack just before Christmas. Seeing the number of people in this square, if such an attack happened here it would probably claim far more lives. This is not to belittle the dreadful attack and its results but seeing what had happened 2 years after having been just around the corner, so to speak, really brought to mind how devastating something like this is.

A cake shop a coffee shopCake and coffee shop

Bakery in the MarketA Bakery Shop

Ent to another restaurant in the MarketEntrance to a fresh foods market

Waterwheel at market entranceA waterwheel at the market

Also within this precinct is the World Clock. How do I describe it as it looks nothing like clock? I have put in a photo to give you a better idea. The clock, balanced on the top of a solid column, is a large circular structure with 3 panels. The centre has 24 blocks each numbered 1-24. Above and below each numbered block are the names of cities. The numbers row slowly turns so that one can see the time within an hour in cities around the world. Because there is space for a number of cities it can be seen which ones are in the same time-zone as Berlin for example. Above the clock is a sculpture of the planets in their orbits.

Time clockA close look at the World clock

We walked about a kilometre down to the Pariser platz where the Brandenburg Gate is situated. This was something that I had always wanted to see and it met all expectations and some more. The size of it is just incredible. The whole area has been closed to traffic and it is a cobblestone walkway. As we approached the Gate there was a protest against ISIS and governments which are allowing ISIS to kill Kurds and Christians in Syria and Iraq. They were quiet but their banners and posters said it all for them. I was reminded about Black Sash protests in South Africa pre 1990 which were all in silence and we relied on our posters to get the message across. In addition, a funfair on the other side of the Gate was being dismantled making movement around the area just that much more difficult. The story of the Gate is very interesting and would take far too much space here but do go to the link and read about it.

Busker at Brandenburg GateA busker at the Brandenburg Gate

Horse and carriageA horse & carriage taking tourists through the Pariser Platz

Protest for PalestineProtestors at the Brandenberg Gate

We then ambled down Judenstrasse, a street which took us to the Berlin Town Hall or Rotes Rathaus. The Town Hall and offices is a very large and imposing building but all was quiet when we were there. We turned left at the intersection where the Town Hall was situated and walked a short distance and discovered the Reichstag or Parliament Building situated across from us with a very wide and busy street separating the 2 buildings. We stood there for a while just watching the traffic and it reminded us of the road around the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. Incredible how there are not accidents every few minutes.

City HallEntrance to the Town Hall which had the most wonderful friezes

We turned and walked in the other direction towards the Spree River in the hope of taking a boat cruise. We came to a bridge over the river but could not find a way down to the river bank where we could see boats tied up and waiting for customers. Everywhere we tried was blocked off as construction of 3 new underground stations was taking place.

Berlin CathedralBerlin Cathedral beside the River Spree

We retraced our steps to the Brandenburg Gate and on the way we were able to learn more of the construction. There was a place where one could stand on a raised platform and watch some of the activity. Beside the platform was a full size structure of the drill being used to bore underground. Both on the platform and en route there were posters showing and telling about how and why the stations were being built. It was such an interesting way to inform people and keep them up to date on progress.

Looking down on work from a platformWorkers on the underground stations

Engineers offices for new Underground StationEntrance to the engineers’ offices; in front is a replica of the tunneling wheel

Cyclist tourists and ent to the viewing platformTourist cyclists ride past the stairs up to the viewing platform

We were now on the Eastern side of the Gate and found a beautiful park, Tiergarten, (German for Animal Garden) through which we walked for about an hour. It was beautifully laid out and has some lovely sculptures and monuments as well as a lake and most interestingly groups of large rocks shaped so that people can sit comfortably and have group conversations.

 Lion statue in TiergartenA sculpture of lions at the entrance to the Tiergarten

Lily pond in TiergartenThe lake in the Tiergarten

Beside the lake was a most interesting monument to honour 3 classical composers – Beethoven, Hadyn and Mozart. It was a 3-sided monument with a sculpture of each composer on one of the 3 facets. It has a lot of gold sculpted into the monument giving it the alternative name of Goldfischteich

Monument to 3 composersThe monument to the 3 composers

We left there feeling refreshed and peaceful. Emerging from a side gate we found ourselves in front of the Russian War Memorial which was erected in 1945, a few months after the Soviets had captured the city. In the Battle of Berlin 80 000 Soviet soldiers died and the Memorial is dedicated to them. The Berlin Wall had been built right beside the Brandenburg Gate which remained in Western Berlin and was, for 28 years, a symbol of freedom to the East Berliners as they could see it over the Wall. After a long and very interesting day in Berlin we took the train back to our hotel.

Russian war monumentThe Russian monument

We were so glad that we had, by default, had 2 full days in this beautiful city filled with so much history – old and modern.


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