Exploring Germany: Berlin

by Arūnas
Exploring Germany: Berlin
Berlin is a city with a rich cultural and historical heritage. Its museums, theaters, and galleries are known all over the world. The phenomenon of Berlin is that the city is popular with both classical and avant-garde art lovers.

The largest city in Germany, its capital, and one of the independent federal states, Berlin is the ninth most populous in Europe. This is a city of great and tragic destiny, which has endured many glorious and bitter moments in its history. Founded by Slavic tribes in the 6th-7th centuries AD, by the 13th century it was already a large German city, from the 15th century – the capital of the Margraviate of Brandenburg, and from the 19th century – the capital of the united German Empire. At the beginning of the 20th century, Berlin was the third-largest city on the planet, after London and New York.

Berlin is a very unusual city. Despite, and perhaps due to, difficult history and the enormous destruction of World War II, an atmosphere combining medieval, modern, and contemporary history has been formed here. The last 200 years have left a particularly striking mark. The famous sights of old Berlin are associated with the era of the rapid transformation of Prussia from a provincial duchy into the capital of a powerful empire.

Berlin is one of the most heavily bombed cities in history: during the Second World War, large parts of the city were destroyed by bombing raids, fires, and street battles. The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 marks the end of the Cold War.

Historically, the city is conditionally divided into eastern and western parts. These parts are very different even in appearance. The eastern one is ex-Soviet, the western one is modern and full of parks. This is the whole of Berlin: contrasting, many-sided, but at the same time so harmonious. The first thing that catches the eye of tourists is the incredible stability that reigns in the city. There are no traffic jams here, residents prefer to ride bicycles, everything is in order.

Useful information about Berlin

Area: 892 km² / 344 sq mi

Elevation: 34 m / 112 mi

Coordinates: 52° 31′ 7″ N , 13° 24′ 30″ E

State: Berlin

Population: ~3.7 mln

Currency: €

Language: German

Berlin map

Located in the northeast of the Federal Republic of Germany, Berlin is surrounded by the state of Brandenburg. In addition to the Spree and Havel rivers, there are also smaller rivers and numerous lakes and forests in the city. The largest expansion of the urban area in the east-west direction is around 45 km (28 mi), in the north-south direction around 38 km (24 mi).


I have visited Berlin twice. To be honest, this is not my city as a tourist. Berlin reminds me of a Russian metropolis, and therefore looks uninteresting, especially the eastern, ex-Communist part of it. By comparison, Warsaw, which was also almost fully destroyed during World War II, now looks 10 times more impressive than Berlin. The capital of Germany has neither the Old Town with narrow cobbled streets and beautiful churches in the Gothic or Baroque style nor a large modern center with many skyscrapers. The most impressive cities in Germany, I have been to, are Frankfurt am Main (because it looks like an American city) and Trier, Germany’s oldest city.

I hope you enjoyed my Exploring Spain: Berlin post. If you like Europe and its capitals with a unique atmosphere and historical heritage, here are a few more posts that I recommend you read next:

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