When considering the history of Europe’s major cities one cannot help but think of Berlin. Through war, revolution and division the German capital has emerged today as a cosmopolitan, vibrant, modern global city. Although badly damaged in the final years of World War II and broken asunder during the Cold War, Berlin has reconstructed itself greatly, especially with the reunification push after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. It is now possible to see representatives of many different historic periods in a short time within the city centre, from a few surviving medieval buildings near Alexanderplatz, to the ultramodern glass and steel structures in Potsdamer Platz.
Partly due to its fractious recent history many of the different areas of Berlin have very different characters. The Mitte area is the historical centre of Berlin, the nucleus of the former East Berlin, and the emerging city centre. There are a plethora of cafes, restaurants, museums, galleries and clubs throughout the district, along with many sites of historic interest. Foremost amongst these sights of historic interest must be placed the Reichstag building, the Federal German Parliament or "Bundestag", originally completed in 1894. The grand inscription in front still reads: "Dem Deutschen Volke" - 'For the German people'. The Reichstag is also inextricably linked to the story of Hitler’s rise to power in the 1930’s. In a move that was emblematic of modern Berlin's image as a home to the arts, the building is well known in the art world thanks to Paris-based Bulgarian artist Christo's mammoth 'Wrapped Reichstag' project in 1995. The entire building was swathed in silver cloth for two weeks that summer. Any trip to Berlin should include a visit to this building.
Other areas of interest in Berlin include the Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg area, associated with the left wing youth culture, artists and Turkish immigrants. This borough is home to a vibrant night-life, with lots of cafes, bars and clubs. The Prenzlauer Berg region is a trendy district in the former East Berlin undergoing gentrification, north of the city centre. It is popular with students, artists and media professionals, offering such clientele the prerequisites of cafes and bars.
Amongst the activities available to the visitor to Berlin some of the most popular include visiting a selection of the city’s vast array of museums and art galleries. One of the most popular areas for such fare is the Museumsinsel ("Museum Island"), this area is best known for the vast Pergamon-Museum, which houses an extensive collection of ancient Greek, ancient Middle-Eastern and Islamic art and architecture. Other museums belonging to the Museum Island include the Altes Museum, with the Egyptian and the antique collection and the Alte Nationalgalerie, with mainly German paintings of the 19th century.
If considering a visit to Berlin one appealing aspect to the trip is that after the end of the Cold War, Berlin witnessed a construction boom of hotels and offices. The boom led to a significant oversupply of hotels that results in comparatively cheap prices even in the 5 star category.
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