A city rich in history, Berlin attracts 21st century travellers with its array of contemporary and street art, iconic architecture and one of the world’s most evolved techno- and electronic music scenes.
Time melts across this city as historic structures like the Brandenburg Gate, an 18th century neoclassical triumphal arch through which Napoleon and Hitler each marched, sits side by side on Pariser Platz with the DZ Bank building designed by Los Angeles architect Frank Gehry, its imposing steel sculpture seeming to float between the atrium and its titanium roof. To learn more about this city’s built history, join the exceptional From Bauhaus to Futurism walking tour from Context Travel. A fluent English speaking historian leads the way from the iconic Bauhaus Archiv to Mies van der Rohe’s minimalist glass clad masterpiece, the 1968 Neue Nationalgalerie and on to Helmut Jahn’s futuristic Sony Centre at Potsdamer Platz.
Also a world-class cultural mecca with a stellar schedule of festivals and an impressive 150-plus museums, Berlin is a must for art lovers. Beyond the Museumsinsel complex of five world-class museums conceived by King Friedrich Wilhelm III in the early 1800s and home to Greek and Babylonian treasures like the Ishtar Gate and the Altar of Pergamon, Berlin hosts utterly now galleries like the Boros Collection in an abandoned WWII bomb shelter, the royal post office turned Communist era gymnasium turned c/o Berlin focusing on photography and Eigen+Art which actively nurtures rising talents.
Urban walls too have become the canvases of this city in transition. An early example, the Xberg Astronaut by Portuguese artist Victor Ash remains one of the world’s largest stencils and can be found in Berlin Kreuzberg. Another fan favourite, MTO is known for his massive murals incorporating recognizable celebrities. Berlin has also become the backdrop for quirkier character based graffiti like the five-storey high yellow fellow by Brazilian twins who go by Osgemeos and the fantastical monsters of HRVB.
Beginning in the 1990s when disused cellars and abandoned industrial buildings became impromptu clubs, Berlin has been synonymous with techno and electro music. The now legendary Tresor is a pilgrimage stop for techno tourists who come from all over the world to dance away the weekend at clubs like the Berghain, inside the massive turbine hall of a former East German heating and power station which Rolling Stone hails as the ‘Techno world’s coolest club’.