A short history of Berlin
The history of Berlin starts with its foundation in the 13th century. It became the capital of the Margraviate of Brandenburg in 1417, and later of Brandenburg-Prussia, and the Kingdom of Prussia. Prussia grew rapidly in the 18th and 19th century, and formed the basis of the German Empire in 1871.
After 1900 Berlin became a major world city, known for its leadership roles in science, the humanities, music, museums, higher education, government, diplomacy and military affairs. It also had a role in manufacturing and finance.
During World War II, it was virtually destroyed by bombing, artillery, and ferocious street-by-street fighting. After the war it was split between the victors, and lost its world leadership roles. With the reunification of Germany in 1990, Berlin was restored as a capital and as a major world city.
The Berlin Wall
The Berlin Wall was constructed as a way of preventing East Germans from entering West Germany. It was not so much a boundary for West Germans wanting to enter the East, who were able to do so by obtaining a permit several weeks in advance. It didn’t face much opposition by the western powers as its construction confirmed that the Soviet Union were not planning to take over West Berlin.
Official figures show that at least 136 people died trying to cross the border. People attempting to get from East to West were regarded as traitors and guards were instructed to shoot at them if they attempted to cross, although not to kill them.
West Berliners used the Berlin Wall as an ideal way of getting rid of rubbish. If they had anything that needed throwing away, they threw it over the wall. After all, it wasn’t as if they would be made to go over it to fetch it back.
Berliner Weiße (Berlin White)
Berlin has its own beer specialty, the Berliner Weiße. It has slightly bitter and sour notes and is made from wheat. For a long time, this beer was forgotten, however it has recently made a comeback. There are quite a few local and regional brewers embracing it again.
Tallest in Germany
The Fersehturm, or TV Tower around Alexanderplatz is the tallest structure in Germany at 368 meters high.
250 grams of gold
At the Galeries Lafayette in Berlin’s posh shopping district off of Friedrichstrasse, you can actually receive gold right out of a “gold ATM”. The precious metal comes in bars weighing up to 250 grams. And if you ever find yourself shoeless on one of those typically endless Berli nights out, have no fear! A vending machine in Fritzclub by Postbahnhof sells ballet flat shoes for €9 from a vending machine of their own.
Unesco World Heritage Sties
Berlin is home to 3 Unesco world heritage sites. The Museum Island, Sansoussi Palace and Parks in Potsdam and the Modernism Housing Estates. Most people don’t know about the last one.
Berlin is home to the longest open air gallery in the world with a little over 1.3 Km. The East Side Gallery showcases over 100 murals from artists from all over the world. Perhaps the most famous is “The Fraternal Kiss” which is actually called “My God, Help Me to Survive This Deadly Love”. The socialist fraternal kiss or socialist fraternal embrace is a special form of greeting between the statesmen of Marxist-Leninist socialist states. This act demonstrates the alleged “special connection” that exists between Marxist-Leninist socialist regimes.
The socialist fraternal kiss consisted of an embrace, combined with a series of three kisses on alternate cheeks In rare cases, when the two leaders considered themselves exceptionally close, the kisses were given on the mouth rather than on the cheeks.
The Berlin Zoo is not only the most visited Zoo in Europe but also hosts 1,380 different animal species and over 18,662 animals. The Zoo is said to have the largest stock of animals in the world.