It’s outrageous that Berlin is not on TripAdvisor’s Top 25 destinations for 2015. There should be a warning-label for crowd-sourced reviewed websites, “Some of these reviewers don’t know what they are talking about and ruin the overall score.”
It has something for every enthusiast. If you’re a foodie you have innovative global cuisine and sausages! If you’re a history buff, you have the best history museums in Europe. If you’re looking for a party, you can go to some of the most exciting nightclubs in the world. If you’re looking to chill, you can take leisurely walks along the river or through the Tiergarten. Art lover? Done. LGBT? Berlin has one of the strongest communities for LGBT in the world. It’s a very forward-thinking city.
Berlin is what you make it. If you don’t have a good time there, then you’re probably an idiot and should go to Orlando on your next trip.
This brings me to the one thing to do if you’re in Berlin. The city is living history. In the 20th Century, it survived World War II and the Berlin Wall. Now, it thrives. The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe acknowledges the pain the city went through. Eighty percent of the city, along with history and architecture, was destroyed during WWII. They had to rebuild, tear down and reinvent.
The Memorial was built in the last decade (2003-5), when the city was going through a cultural and artistic renaissance. It’s 2,711 pillars of various sizes situated between Brandenburg Gate and Hitler’s underground bunker that’s now a parking lot.
Designed by architect Peter Eisenman of New Jersey and engineer Buro Happold of England, the purpose is to “produce an uneasy, confusing atmosphere, and the whole sculpture aims to represent a supposedly ordered system that has lost touch with human reason.” Like Berlin itself, it is what you make it.
You walk among the grey pillars with fascination. “What is this? Do the varying heights mean something?” You expect to see something around the corner, but you just see another row of grey columns. I felt the minimalist layout and design created an enormous response of emptiness with wonder. Sometimes, things aren’t meant to be explained. You will move on, as have the people of Berlin.
The frustrating aspect is that you will see douchebags jumping from column to column like it’s a parkour playground. It’s one of the aspects of Berlin you might come across. Yes, sometimes you will see flowers placed at the carpark where Hitler committed suicide.
Use the memorial as a starting point to other historical landmarks in the city. Once you get a sense of what the city’s past, then delve into what the city is now … superfun!