Humboldt Tours Berlin https://humboldttoursberlin.com Private Tours & Events Tue, 09 Nov 2021 12:15:54 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.4.10 https://humboldttoursberlin.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/cropped-LOGO-favicon-512x512-1-2-32x32.png Humboldt Tours Berlin https://humboldttoursberlin.com 32 32 What makes Berlin different from other cities? https://humboldttoursberlin.com/what-makes-berlin-different-from-other-cities/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=what-makes-berlin-different-from-other-cities Sat, 30 Oct 2021 11:44:15 +0000 https://humboldttoursberlin.com/?p=5303 Berlin State of Mind: What made us who we are   Berlin is different from other cities. The mixture of old and new, tradition and innovation, history and future-focus – Berlin is constantly in a state of flux, a city on the move.     “Paris is always Paris, and Berlin is never Berlin,” – French…

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Berlin State of Mind: What made us who we are

 

Berlin is different from other cities. The mixture of old and new, tradition and innovation, history and future-focus – Berlin is constantly in a state of flux, a city on the move.  

 

“Paris is always Paris, and Berlin is never Berlin,” – French Culture Minister Jack Lang in 2001

 

You can feel it in the air when you visit. In some cities you’ll find squares and landmarks that never evolve. They are preserved as monuments to another time: look but don’t touch, and certainly do not change.

In Berlin we don’t have the luxury of this viewpoint. The city of Berlin exploded from a village to its position at the centre of an empire in just 100 years. In the years that followed our public spaces – even those which are now preserved – were repeatedly damaged, changed and re-purposed beyond recognition by conflicting influence and power.

 

Re-purposing spacesWhat Makes Berlin Different?

Our public spaces and famous buildings have been through a lot during the 20th Century. Take for example the Brandenburg Gate, our most iconic symbol. The gate was built in the 19th century to celebrate the Prussian empire, for 12 years commandeered by Hitler as a location for Nazi parades, from 1961 it was trapped in no-man’s land during the Cold War… before eventually being re-born as a symbol of reunification. In its 250 year history, the Gate has constantly been repurposed.

In Berlin, we don’t assume that our monuments will patiently sit, preserved on the side-lines. We are very aware that change is inevitable – who knows where we will be in another 100 years. This shapes our mindset towards development, conservation and preservation.

During your time in Berlin you will observe many disused spaces transformed and repurposed – into offices, galleries, creative studios, concert spaces, places to eat and more. 

 

A tale of two citiesBerlin art and culture

Berlin’s division was one of the most significant influences on the development of our city today. While the city was separated into two halves, East and West Berlin grew in parallel. West Berlin had its airport, its concert hall, its zoo, its art galleries…. And East Berlin had all these too.

Once the wall fell, Berlin began to reunify. In this messy process, some institutions remained and developed in their own directions, while others dissolved and fell out of use. This means there were both a large number of diverse artistic and cultural institutions and a lot of disused spaces. 

Inevitably, this combination provided perfect conditions to attract a new generation of artists, creators and business people in search of cheap space and inspiration. This is what transformed Berlin after reunification: for us it’s a priority for our city to be creative, affordable and inclusive.

 

A legacy that lives onBerlin differences between east and west

In Berlin you will still find around 170 museums and over 300 galleries, two zoos, two opera houses, a disused airport turned park, a gourmet restaurant in a power station, an outdoor swimming pool in an old barge, over 35,000 resident artists, some of the world’s biggest start-up companies and a large international population from all over the world.

Berlin has always been rooted in change, recovery and evolution – and those of us who live and make our home here understand that. It’s not for everyone, and it means our city is always an “unfinished product”, different every time you visit. It also makes it vibrant, diverse, welcoming and exciting – full of Berliners who reflect the same values.

 

Do you want to explore Berlin’s unique character through her past and present? Humboldt tours specialises in bespoke private tours, tailored to your interests and tastes. Look at our suggested private tour itineraries here, or create your own custom experience. Learn more about our team here.

 

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Berlin’s Culture Through The Years https://humboldttoursberlin.com/berlins-culture-through-the-years/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=berlins-culture-through-the-years Sat, 30 Oct 2021 11:43:20 +0000 https://humboldttoursberlin.com/?p=5301 Understanding the Key Eras in Berlin’s Heritage, Art & Culture Berlin’s history has been constantly marked by change. Unlike capital cities like Paris or London, Berlin – in its current role as capital of a unified Germany – has only existed for a few decades over the last 200 years. Most recently Berlin was famously…

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Understanding the Key Eras in Berlin’s Heritage, Art & Culture

Berlin’s history has been constantly marked by change. Unlike capital cities like Paris or London, Berlin – in its current role as capital of a unified Germany – has only existed for a few decades over the last 200 years.

Most recently Berlin was famously divided by the Berlin Wall, but dissolution and reformation of these lands is nothing new. Even as recently as the 19th Century, the idea of Germany as a nation state was an uncertain concept.

All the change that the city witnessed over the years has had a profound impact on Berlin – and on German culture in general. Different eras came with different leaders, fashions, religious beliefs and norms. Of course, these influenced the emerging culture, music and art scenes of the time, so understanding the timeline of events in history helps us to understand why and how each came about.

 

German Heritage & German History: it’s complicated 

Many people come to Germany looking to trace their German roots, but looking into a unified “German” heritage is not always so simple. Germany has existed in so many different forms that national identity as we think of it today is quite a new concept. 

 

The Holy Roman Empire & German identity

From the middle-ages until the early 19th Century, “Germany” existed as many small self-ruled states with differing political allegiances and beliefs. Most of these fell into the “Holy Roman Empire”, a Kingdom which included parts of modern Italy, France, Germany, Austria and other parts of Central Europe. The boundaries of the empire were constantly in flux as various localities were won and lost, particularly during times of conflict or unrest in Europe, until it finally fell to France in 1806. Berlin, as the capital of Prussia, lost much of its influence as the state’s territory shrank. 

During the years that followed, Prussia changed allegiance, joining with Britain and the Netherlands in a final campaign against Napolean’s French forces. Following his defeat at the Battle of Waterloo, Prussia was rewarded with more land, and started to build her influence once again.

During this unsettled period, the idea of “Germany identity” had started to take root. Rather than military might and riches, early thinking concentrated on shared German language, culture and folk heritage. The first ideas of “German-ness” started to form around enlightenment ideals such as education, philosophy, art, music and high culture. 

Culture and history in Berlin

Influence on German Art and Culture

 

Besides the traditional German art and culture which united many regular folk across the empire, the high-art of the time was heavily influenced by the religious politics which played out across Europe.

More unusual developments in art and music came out of the protestant schools, because artists were not permitted to create religious works. As a result, they explored other subject matter, such as portraiture and landscapes. 

Catholic artists of the time created masterpieces in the Gothic and Renaissance traditions – though they were less well known than their contemporaries in Rome or Paris. Wood and stucco engraving for interiors came into fashion during the 17th and 18th centuries. While it was originally a traditional German art-form from the Catholic states in the South, during this period the skill was elevated to a distinctive practise and became one of the most iconic aspects of German Baroque and Rococo Palaces built during this era. If you pay a visit to any of the stunning palaces around Berlin and Potsdam –  for example Charlottenburg Palace, or Sanssouci Palace – you will not be alone in admiring the stunning engraved ceilings. 

Protestantism also influenced and aided the development of European musical movements in Germany. Martin Luther himself composed many Chorales for use in church services, which in Protestant churches replaced the Catholic “call and response” chants that had previously been used. The hymns written were to be sung in German rather than Latin, and many were based around simple melodies or folk tunes meaning that regular people were able to learn them. 

Baroque music followed on closely from Chorale in its techniques and Protestant origins. As a result, Prussian Berlin as part of the Holy Roman Empire was one of the largest centres for Baroque music in Europe, along with Vienna. Both cities later became hubs for the development of the Classical, Opera and Romantic movements.

 

German Nationalism 

 

In the 19th Century, even while the ideals of the Enlightenment – celebrating liberal thought, art, culture and education – prevailed, there was a rumbling feeling among more radical groups that such values were aligned with the aristocracy who did not represent the wider population. 

These feelings grew into a new kind of nationalism, which saw the military turmoil in Europe as a chance to unify into one nation. Famous prime minister Otto Von Bismark took advantage of these feelings when he came to power in 1862, and sought to use the unrest in Europe to create a cause which all of Germany could unite behind. This was the Franco-Prussian war, which forced many independent states to align themselves with Prussia in exchange for protection from France. The eventual consequence was the Treaty of Versailles, and unification.

A Unified “Germany”:

While many different solutions to unite Germany were suggested after the Holy Roman Empire was dissolved, this was the first time that “Germany” existed as one nation. The new “German Empire” included 26 individual political entities, but it wasn’t to last long. It was dissolved less than 50 years later in 1918, following the end of the first world war and the subsequent German Revolution.

This chaotic period of German history resulted in a great many styles of art and music being created within the various states of Germany and the following German Empire. Without an influential capital, different schools sprang up in various cities and provinces representing different styles and traditions from other parts of Europe. Expressionism and surrealism flourished, with celebrated artists such as Kadinsky and Franz Marc emerging. 

 

The Weimar Republic and Artistic Freedom:

After the German Revolution, a new era of German identity was established. The Weimar Republic was a short-lived and paired-down incarnation of the German Empire, having been stripped of huge amounts of money and power following WWI. It was massively in debt, and largely dependent on American loans.

The chaotic economic situation, political extremism in Germany and social liberalism elsewhere in Europe led to an explosion of intellectual freedom among German artists and academics. While things were desperate in the early 1920s, there was a golden era of artistic production in the late 20s which, though short-lived, established Berlin as a cultural capital. Cabaret clubs opened, Jazz flourished, avant-garde movements found a home and progressive social policies allowed artists to eake out a living.

However, when the economic crash hit wall street in 1929, loans from the USA dried up and The Weimar Republic was swiftly put back into turmoil. As the Nazi party gained power during the 1930s, avant garde artists and musicians fled the country fearing persecution; Hitler and the Nazis believed that “traditional” German art was superior, seeking to outlaw modern, “degenerate” styles. Despite this, the alternative influence on Berlin’s cultural scene had a deep impact on the city that would later be revived. 

Divided Germany 

Unsurprisingly the Third Reich era was a difficult time for artists and creatives in Berlin, and most fled, but the artistic influences of the era were significant. European art experienced a boom between the 1900s and the 1940s, with Avant Garde movements trying to make sense of the chaotic political landscapes in new and experimental ways. Of course, the war left many marks on Berlin, which still remain to be seen today.

After the war, Berlin was captured by Soviet forces along with much of East Germany. The result of the Potsdam conference was that Germany was to be split into two nations, with Berlin straddling both. 

 

potsdam berlin history
East Berlin Culture:

Culture in East Germany was heavily censored, with the Socialist government keen to ensure that all forms of art and popular culture matched its ideals. “Traditional” folk music and dance were celebrated as noble past-times, while in the art-world a new “state-approved” style emerged called Socialist Realism. This style was a modern take on folk art which most often depicted idealised scenes from pastoral life, a key theme in the Eastern Bloc’s ideology.

Elsewhere in the mid 20th century a cultural revolution was taking place. As bands like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones rose to fame, new styles of music and different ways of life were spreading. Despite an increasingly limited selection of government approved entertainment, it became impossible to stem the flow of Western influences into the East Germany. 

The GDR’s government did allow some state-approved bands and theatre groups to form and perform around the country – even in West Germany on occasions – but anti-government or pro-west messages were not permitted. However, especially in East Berlin, where West German life existed just the other side of a wall, and GDR antennae picked up Western TV shows and radio, this was hard to suppress. In the 70s and 80s, towards the end of the divided era, many Western artists spent time in West Berlin, intrigued by its unique mix of liberal nightlife and Soviet influence. 

Underground culture:

Unsurprisingly, musicians and artists got creative within their limitations, slipping covert messages into their performances. An underground culture quickly established itself too – but access to traditional instruments and equipment was difficult without state approval – and anything subversive had to be delivered anonymously. The result was the make-shift and DIY scene which lives on in Berlin today. We can see this in the ongoing culture of street art in the city, which started with anti-government art and graffiti on the east-facing stretches of the Berlin Wall.

 

Modern Berlin:

Once the era of division finally ended with the fall of the Berlin Wall, Berlin’s place as a modern cultural centre was solidified. Berlin’s cultural heritage as a hub of underground activity suddenly combined with the newfound economic freedom of the 90s. A unified Berlin allowed suppressed self-expression to bubble to the surface, sparking an explosion of creativity and hedonism among Berlin’s young population. Suddenly artists and creatives from all over flocked to this cheap capital city with its 24 hour nightlife. 

Famous buildings in Berlin: TV Tower

Berlin’s heritage: A distinct Berlin Culture 

While other parts of Germany were affected by change throughout European history, few cities have sat at the centre of change in the way that Berlin has. With less historic significance as a capital, Berlin’s influence came later, often tied into periods of history where the city saw radical self-expression and an influx of artists. 

Ultimately Berlin’s culture as we know it only emerged after Germany was reunified in the 1990s, a period of time that many of us are still alive to remember. Few European capitals experienced the sudden freedom and excitement that Berlin did at that time, and that has shaped Berliners and our city.

After 500 years in a shifting landscape, Berlin is still new, still changing: always in motion.  

 

Humboldt Tours are experts in the history of Berlin. Our guides are academics and passionate amateurs who take great joy in sharing their city’s history with you, our culturally curious guests. Find out more about us here, or view our suggested private tour itineraries here. We also operate on a custom basis, creating bespoke options for those with special interests in Berlin.

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Family Heritage and Ancestry Tours in Berlin https://humboldttoursberlin.com/family-history-berlin-ancestry-tours/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=family-history-berlin-ancestry-tours Sat, 30 Oct 2021 11:33:47 +0000 https://humboldttoursberlin.com/?p=5165 Rediscover Your Family History in Berlin Do you have a link to Berlin through your family history that you would like to explore? For various political, economic and cultural reasons, people around the world have family history that goes back to Germany, and to Berlin.  If that’s you, visiting your ancestral home is more than…

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Rediscover Your Family History in Berlin

Do you have a link to Berlin through your family history that you would like to explore? For various political, economic and cultural reasons, people around the world have family history that goes back to Germany, and to Berlin. 

If that’s you, visiting your ancestral home is more than just a vacation. Tracing your roots is a deeply rewarding and grounding process which can give you a greater understanding of key events in your family history. It can also be an emotional journey – we may come across truths about our own back-story that we never expected to uncover.

 

Personalised Itineraries:

Humboldt Tours’ mission is to bring our guests on a personal journey through time. For some, this simply means exploring Berlin with a private itinerary that follows their interests and passions. For others, it’s directly connected to the experiences of real people in their lives.

 

Expert Local Guides

If you would like to bring Berlin to life through the lens of your own roots, let us be your guide on this eye opening experience. Our guides are trained historians by profession, and through access to historical archives, libraries and personal contacts, they can help you discover the events in our city that shaped you and your family.

Together we will delve into your past, aiming to shed light on family members who lived in Berlin, what they did and the cultural and political context that may have contributed to their choices. We’ll visit relevant sights and key locations, and learn more about the historical landscape of Berlin and its citizens through time – helping you to strengthen your personal connection to your past.

 

Testimonials:

Testimonial (from Tripadvisor): “I wanted to find out about the Berlin my mother grew up in, from 1930 to 1947. I sent Humboldt the few details I had found on Ancestry.com and that my mother had told me about. My guide was Nadin. She arrived punctually and was carrying a folder of 25 pages she had photocopied from a number of sources, such as the city directory, press clippings, personal memoirs and photographs of places in the first half of the 20th century. We then took a six-hour tour of the neighborhoods in Friedrichshain and Karlshorst. I was enormously impressed by her archival efforts, the deep sympathy for her subject matter and the way in which she tried to imagine the sort of subjects I would be interested in. She is an accomplished historian by training, so she can provide as much context and color as you need. It was such a pleasure to accompany her and I cannot recommend her highly enough. Also, Humboldt Tours is a good organization, and my interactions with Bjoern, the manager, were excellent, before my trip and afterwards.

Trace family heritage Berlin

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Best Neighborhoods in Berlin https://humboldttoursberlin.com/best-neighborhoods-berlin/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=best-neighborhoods-berlin Sat, 30 Oct 2021 11:31:07 +0000 https://humboldttoursberlin.com/?p=5156 The Best Places to Stay in Berlin for Your Visit   Berlin is a unique and diverse city made up of a number of different neighbourhoods which each have their own character. From the grand neo-classical architecture and genteel cafes of Pariserplatz to the graffiti, craft breweries and co-working spaces of Kreuzberg, there’s an area…

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The Best Places to Stay in Berlin for Your Visit

 

Berlin is a unique and diverse city made up of a number of different neighbourhoods which each have their own character. From the grand neo-classical architecture and genteel cafes of Pariserplatz to the graffiti, craft breweries and co-working spaces of Kreuzberg, there’s an area to suit any visitor. But how to decide which are the best neighborhoods in Berlin for your stay?

When you’re looking at which area to stay in Berlin on your next visit, think about what kind of atmosphere makes you feel most comfortable, or what you’d most like to experience. Being a well connected city, Berlin is easy to explore wherever you stay – but different areas do have their distinct appeal. To help you work out where to base yourself, we’ve picked out some of the best places to stay during your visit and their key features.

 

Alexanderplatz - close to major Jewish sights in Berlin

Middle

Literally meaning “middle”, Mitte’s location is self-explanatory. It is the centre of Berlin, both culturally and geographically, and where you’ll find the highest concentration of art galleries, museums and more. As a result, whether you’re staying here or not, you’ll find no shortage of things to do in Mitte!

Museum Island is one of the biggest attractions in Mitte. Sitting in the centre of the Spree river, and is home to some of Berlin’s most famous buildings and cultural icons. Visit the Berliner Dom, Berliner Schloss, Pergamon Museum of history and the Altes and Neue Museums among others.

Just north of the river, you will find the thriving and historic Jewish Quarter. Nowadays the area is full of quirky cafes and independent shops, but during the Third Reich the area suffered huge human and cultural losses as a result of the Nazi regime. It’s easily overlooked today, but walking down Grosse Hamburger Strasse you’ll pass many of the most significant sights for the Jewish community, including the Otto Weidt museum and Old Jewish Boys’ School.

Want to learn more? Humboldt tours’ Jewish Heritage Tour gives you a private insight into the rich and chequered history of Berlin’s Jewish population. Find out more Jewish history in Berlin in our guide.

Best neighborhoods in Berlin

To the West lies the classical beauty of Tiergarten, Pariserplatz and the Brandenburg gate – directly contrasted with Alexanderplatz’ iconic modern tower just a few blocks to the East. In Mitte, Berlin’s two halves bristled against each other: you can still see the checkpoints, barbed wire fences and an open stretch of no-man’s land preserved in memory of those who died trying to cross between East and West. If you’re interested in Cold War history in Berlin, Mitte is where you can see how both its tragedies and everyday inconveniences played out. 

Take a look at our private cold war tour to learn the fascinating history behind these Mitte sights.

Staying in Mitte means that you are right on the doorstep of all Berlin’s most famous sights, as well as plenty of trendy cafes, flea markets and good places to eat. Mitte is bustling, busy and diverse. It’s the perfect place to stay in Berlin if you want to be at the centre of everything – or if you’re short on time and want to see Berlin’s highlights.

Spandau

If being at the centre of everything sounds a bit much, perhaps suburban Spandau could be the best place to stay for your visit to Berlin. 

The Spandau area is famous for its historic buildings and green spaces, and is in fact surrounded by nature reserves. If you like to intersperse your cultural activities with a bit of outdoor relaxation, this area might be the perfect compromise. 

As it sits on the outskirts, Spandau is also a great base to stay in while you explore the area around Berlin. For those who like to challenge themselves on two wheels, cycling from Spandau to Potsdam makes for a fun excursion that’s both active and historic.

 

Charlottenburg:

Mitte’s neo-classical neighbour, Charlottenburg is a great place to get a sense for pre-war Berlin. Its grand architecture, large hotels and palaces are a perfect contrast to more modern parts of the city.

However, this gracious part of the city has not stood still. The area is now home to a diverse international population, and as a result you will find many eateries and shops from all corners of the globe to enjoy – particularly around Savignyplatz.

The jewel is Charlottenburg is its palace and gardens. A stunning Baroque stately home, Charlottenburg palace was originally built as a summer residence for Sophie Charlotte, Queen Consort of Prussia. After her death King Freidrich named the area in her honour. You can explore the gilded state rooms with their collections of shining silver and porcelain, or take a leisurely stroll around the lakes, lawns and view-points of the gardens.

For access to other tourist attractions, Charlottenburg is well connected and easily accessible. Several U-Bahn, S-Bahn and Bus lines link up with Mitte in around 25 minutes, meaning your stay in Charlottenburg offers the best combination of city and suburb.

Potsdam

Staying in Berlin Potsdam

While technically a separate city, Potsdam is only 40 minutes away from Berlin by train. It offers a different experience from staying in Central Berlin, and a chance to get a feel for German life outside of the capital. 

In Potsdam itself there’s a wealth of history and heritage to explore, particularly from the Weimar Republic until the end of the Cold War. Potsdam was home to several of the most significant war conferences of the modern era, including the Potsdam Conference which decided the fate of Soviet East Germany. 

Staying in Potsdam gives you chance to explore the grandeur of this historic city, while still being within easy reach of all the attractions of Berlin. If you’d like to explore here but prefer to stay in the city, it’s also easy to take a day trip from Berlin to Potsdam.

Take a look at our private Potsdam Palaces and Gardens or WW2 History itineraries to get an idea of what we could create for you.

 

Friedrichshain

Along the Northern banks of the river Spree is Friedrichshain, the punkier sibling of Kreuzberg. Home to famous nightclubs and Avant Garde galleries, Friedrichshain still retains a noticeably alternative feel. 

It’s most well known as the home of the East Side Gallery, but beyond this there’s plenty to explore. The area isn’t so well known amongst tourists, but if you know what to look for you can stumble across fascinating hidden gems. Outdoor cinemas, performance spaces and unique cafes can be found on every street.

It’s also easily accessible from the centre, and a quick hop across to Kreuzburg. If you prefer exploring the less well-trodden parts of a city, Friedrichshain could a great place to base yourself. 

Kreuzberg Neighborhood Berlin

Kreuzberg

South of the Spree, Kreuzberg is a bustling, international neighbourhood at what was once the heart of East Berlin. With plenty of brutalist architecture and Soviet-era apartment blocks it’s a great place to get a feel for this period of Berlin’s history. In fact, Check Point Charlie, the famous Cold War check point marks the official entrance to Kreuzberg. 

Nowadays the Berlin Wall is long in the past, and Kreuzberg is well known as a centre for start-ups, trendy coffee shops, vintage clothing stores and great food options. If you like exploring independent shops and galleries during your stay, and hanging out in spots popular with local people, Kreuzberg could be the perfect place to stay. 

It’s also conveniently located for some of Berlin’s most famous sites, including The Jewish Museum, German Technology Museum and The Topography of Terror. You can walk to Mitte in 20-30 minutes, or take public transport in 10, so you’ll never have a problem getting home after a busy day.

Here’s a handy map of the Berlin neighbourhoods mentioned here.

 

About us:

Humboldt Tours provide private tour itineraries led by local experts for culturally curious guests. We have a range of suggested itineraries to browse, but we also specialise in creating custom made itineraries for individuals and groups. If you have a specialist interest or particular passion here in Berlin, we love to facilitate tours which bring it to life. Contact us or find out more about the team here.

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Jewish Berlin: Top Jewish sites to see during your stay https://humboldttoursberlin.com/jewish-berlin-top-jewish-heritage-sites/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=jewish-berlin-top-jewish-heritage-sites Sat, 30 Oct 2021 11:22:22 +0000 https://humboldttoursberlin.com/?p=5111 Jewish Heritage in Berlin Berlin has always been a melting pot for different cultures and nationalities, and has been home to Jewish people since the 1600s. From the intellectual boom of the enlightenment to the tragic events of the second world war, the Jewish community has experienced the city’s greatest triumphs and darkest moments. Thanks…

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Jewish Heritage in Berlin

Berlin has always been a melting pot for different cultures and nationalities, and has been home to Jewish people since the 1600s. From the intellectual boom of the enlightenment to the tragic events of the second world war, the Jewish community has experienced the city’s greatest triumphs and darkest moments.

Thanks to its rich history and resilient community, a visit to Berlin offers a chance to understand the full scope of the Jewish experience. Our local expert guides gathered together some of the top sights in the Jewish quarter of Berlin as well as those around the city for your visit.

 

Top Jewish Heritage Sights to Visit

The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe

No visit to Berlin would be complete without a visit to The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. A chilling reminder of the most disturbing period in Germany’s history, this Jewish memorial in Berlin is one of the most significant commemorative spaces in the city. It is dedicated to the 6 million Jews (as well as other persecuted peoples) who were murdered in cold-blood during the Holocaust, commemorating lives lost not only in Germany, but across Europe.

New York architect Peter Eisenman designed the installation in 1999. It consists of 2711 concrete slabs of different heights, positioned at various levels to create an overall effect that is both peaceful and unsettling. Visitors are free to walk around the installation, offering a chance to explore and reflect at their own pace. The memorial also features an underground museum dedicated to the personal stories of Jewish Berliners.

The memorial itself is free of charge and open 24 hours a day. More information about its linked museum (including ticket information and opening times) can be found here.

 

WW2 Berlin things to see

 

Learn more about what you can see from the Third Reich and WWII era in Berlin with our guide.

Old Jewish Cemetery Berlin

Jewish Cemetery at Berlin Mitte – Hamburger Street

Berlin’s original Jewish Cemetery has existed since the late 1600s. After a large number of Jewish settlers were expelled from Vienna, around 50 families were offered the chance to settle in Berlin. A patch of land near Hamburger Strasse was provided as a burial ground. Over the next three centuries thousands of Jewish Berliners were buried here, including famous philosophers, poets and religious figures whose graves can still be visited today, including Moses Mendelssohn among others.

At the end of the 18th century, the graveyard was closed due to new hygiene laws in the city. It later became a park and nature area enjoyed by students of the Jewish boys’ school and residents at the Jewish Old People’s Home. Sadly during the Nazi regime, the former graveyard was desecrated and many graves destroyed.

After the war, the graveyard was returned to the Jewish people and once again became a park and memorial to the historic contribution of Berlin’s Jewish community. Its ancient roots and chequered history make it an essential visit for anyone interested in Jewish History in Germany.

 

Metal exterior of the Jewish museum

Jewish Museum Berlin by Daniel Libeskind

The Jewish Museum in Berlin is the largest museum dedicated to Jewish culture and history in Europe. The museum building itself contains several spectacular elements which are each well worth a visit. Inside the museum you will find both permanent and special exhibitions focussing on different eras and aspects of Jewish life. 

  • Architecture – “Between The Lines”

Daniel Libeskind’s striking building is a sight to behold in itself. Construction began in 1988 after Libeskind won the architectural competition to design a new exhibition space on the site of the old Jewish Museum (first built, but soon destroyed, in 1938). Even before it opened its doors officially in 2001, visitors flocked to view and walk around the unconventional structure, and now it is one of the most famous buildings in the city.

The building is loosely based on a deconstructed Star of David. Slices of glass zig-zag the concrete exterior, with a maze of almost-windowless corridors within. Just to be inside the space is an emotional experience – it was intentionally designed to provoke feelings of loss, confusion and invisibility. Wherever you stand in the building, you are never far from a sliver of light – even if you can’t see it – symbolising the enduring hope of the Jewish people.

  • The Holocaust tower

The “Holocaust Tower” is one of the many “voids” or chasms in Libeskind’s architecture. Their role is to offer visitors a sense of the division and hopelessness felt by the world’s Jewish community when facing unimaginable hardships during the Holocaust.

Jewish Berlin: The Holocaust Tower at the Jewish Museum

Standing at the bottom of the void and looking up, visitors see the imposing walls tower above on four sides. The chamber is an uneven rectangle: from underneath the walls seem to stretch and distort grotesquely as you move around. The only entrance and exit is a small door at the base of the tower which, once shut, leaves you in near total darkness – except for the tiniest chink where the walls meet the sky. 

Managing to create feelings which cannot be evoked through words, the Holocaust Tower is essential viewing and a moving tribute to the millions of Jewish people who lived and died under the Nazi Regime.

  • The Garden of Exile

Moving beyond the building, don’t miss The Garden of Exile. While continuing the themes of light and darkness, unsettling shapes and distortion, the garden feels different from the rest of the museum. Here plants grow over the concrete slabs and light pours in from above. It’s a space not only of reflection, but also of hope for the future. 

  • Events, tickets & tours

If you’d like to visit all three of these areas, you can find out more and buy tickets at the Jewish museum’s website. If you would like a more in-depth understanding of this emotive space, we are also able to offer guided tours of the building and surrounding area as part of our full day Jewish Heritage Walking Tour – or as a tailor-made experience.

Site of the Old Synagogue Berlin

To understand the full chronology of the Jewish community in Berlin, a visit to the site of the Old Synagogue is a must. 

The synagogue is no longer standing, so we recommend visiting the site with a local tour guide to get the most out of your visit. A private guide can provide details about the origins of Jewish worship in Berlin, the role and stories of the old synagogue and the changing fates of the community. 

We visit the site with a local expert during our private half day Jewish Heritage tour, which also includes many other sights from this article. 

Weißensee Jewish Cemetery Berlin

After the Old Jewish cemetery fell out of use, the Weißensee cemetery was built as a larger cemetery for Berlin’s Jewish community, lying further from the centre. Amazingly, the cemetery survived WWII mostly intact, and you can still see many of the beautiful mausoleums and elaborate graves dating back to the 19th Century. 

Weißensee is also home to a holocaust memorial statue bearing the names of each of the concentration camps. Alongside the older graves, it offers a poignant reminder of the fate that befell many descendants of those buried here. For those with family ties to Berlin’s Jewish community, the graveyard is particularly interesting to visit on both accounts.

If you’re interested in tracing the history of family or friends from the Jewish community, we specialise in helping you discover your personal history in Berlin. Read more about our heritage tours here. 

New Synagogue Berlin

Jewish Heritage in Berlin: The New SynagogueA symbol of hope and triumph over adversity, the New Synagogue has become the centre of the revived Jewish population. 

After its construction in 1865, the events of the Kristallnacht and WWII inflicted severe damage on the Synagogue. It faced further neglect under the soviet years that followed, but after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 restoration work finally began to return the synagogue to its former glory. 

Nowadays the synagogue is the place of worship for a thriving community, and visitors from all over the world come to see its spectacular domes and Eastern architecture.

Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp and Memorial

Sachsenhausen is one of the famous and significant Concentration Camps in Europe, after Auschwitz Birkenau in Poland. While it’s not possible to travel from Berlin to Auschwitz in a day, an excursion from Berlin to Sachenhausen is easily done and provides similar insights into the terrible events of the Holocaust.

The site operated as a “model camp” for the Nazi regime. As such, many of the shocking ideas which were later rolled out to other camps were first implemented here. 

Nowadays Sachsenhausen is preserved as a memorial to those who lost their lives here. Visitors can reflect many areas of the camp where Jewish and other political prisoners lived – and died – in appalling conditions. A visit to Sachenhausen is both educational and emotionally affecting; in order to understand the magnitude of events that took place in the Holocaust, it is not to be skipped.

Humboldt Tours Berlin offers private day trips to Sachenhausen concentration camp, which can also be combined with other tours from our suggested itineraries. Our private licensed guides will provide you with the most up to date information and personal histories from the camp, while treating the subject matter with appropriate care and sensitivity. For more information, take a look at our tour here.

Jewish sights: Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp and Memorial

 

Jewish events in and around Berlin

These days Berlin’s Jewish community is once again thriving, with an active calendar of events that are constantly updated. For official “Jewish Berlin” information, check out Visit Berlin’s regularly updated listing of exhibitions, Jewish festivals, religious events and more. 
If you would like to see all of the above, as well as additional historical context and moving stories, take a look at our full day and half day private Jewish heritage tours with a local guide. All tours can be customised to suit your interests and needs. Contact us now for more information – we are always happy to discuss your needs.

Alexanderplatz - close to major Jewish sights in Berlin

About Humboldt Tours

Humboldt Tours has 15 years’ experience creating bespoke, private tours for culturally curious guests. Berlin is a source of never-ending inspiration for our team. Our humble, vibrant city is always ready to be explored – with infinite layers of history to peel back, thousands of personal stories to discover. 

We create personal journeys through time, allowing you to design your perfect itinerary and tour of Berlin with a local expert. We have special expertise in putting together private tours which delve into the significance and history that Berlin has for you. Whether you have German or Jewish heritage and are looking to trace your roots, or have a special interest in a particular aspect of our city’s past or present, let us create a private tour itinerary which captures your imagination. 

Click here to view our suggested itineraries, or create your own.

 

 

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What to see in Berlin from WW2 https://humboldttoursberlin.com/what-to-see-in-berlin-from-ww2/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=what-to-see-in-berlin-from-ww2 Sat, 30 Oct 2021 11:06:41 +0000 https://humboldttoursberlin.com/?p=5144 The Best World War 2 Sights in Berlin to visit Berlin is a city unlike any other. Along with its people, it endured a great deal of suffering and change, particularly during the second world war and the subsequent Cold War. As such, there is no shortage of WW2 sights and places of interest for…

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The Best World War 2 Sights in Berlin to visit

Berlin is a city unlike any other. Along with its people, it endured a great deal of suffering and change, particularly during the second world war and the subsequent Cold War. As such, there is no shortage of WW2 sights and places of interest for you to explore during your stay. At each, you will find a sense of self-reflection and humility and a chance to consider what went on during our darkest years from various perspectives.

Humboldt Tours’ team of local experts have put together a list of some of Berlin’s historical highlights from the Third Reich era, grouped into WW2 Museums, War Memorials and other sights to visit. Why not explore them on your next visit to Berlin with our specialist Third Reich and WWII History Tour?

A Unique Culture of Remembrance

While in many cities you might find grand WW2 memorials dedicated to brave, victorious soldiers and adorned with national flags, history in Germany is remembered in a more nuanced manner. This is a result of our unique remembrance culture, which realises our role in events of the 20th Century, and seeks to remember them in order to avoid repeating our past.

Learn more about Remembrance Culture in our unique virtual tour. Why not enjoy before your visit?

Despite its extensive reconstruction, in Berlin you will find places of remembrance, information and commemoration everywhere. Historic buildings still standing are turned into educational facilities, museums or left untouched for you to consider and form your own perspective. Newer monuments are frequently abstract and left open to interpretation.

 

WW2 sites in Berlin - War memorials

WW2 Museums in Berlin:

Topography of Terror

During the second world war the Gestapo were the much feared secret police used to enforce Hitler’s punishing regime. The site of their former offices now house the Topography of Terror Museum, an indoor and outdoor exhibition taking us on a historical journey through the Third Reich. From Hitler’s rise to power to the final collapse of the Nazi regime, the Topography of Terror provides in-depth insights into every development. The historical overview it provides helps to give visitors important context within which to major events and their triggers.

Below the exhibition, you can also visit the former cells and torture chambers used by the Gestapo. Visitors should be aware that they may find some parts of the exhibition upsetting due to the nature of the subject.

German Resistance Memorial Centre – Bender Block Museum

During the course of the Third Reich, there were many who pledged loyalty to Hitler. There were many more who were frightened into silence, and some who bravely spoke out or took up arms in order to resist.

Resistance members came from a variety of backgrounds, acting for a number of reasons. For some the regime went against their religious convictions. Some were communists or social democrats – and some were just students who realised the evils that were rising around them.

While there was no overall organised resistance against the Nazis in Germany, these small factions attempted to spread information, overthrow key figures or disrupt events throughout the 12 years of the Third Reich.

The German Resistance Memorial Centre is dedicated to those who gave their lives while standing up for democracy and justice, whatever their reasons.

In addition, the museum also explores the ways that Nazi propaganda was used by the party to manipulate and control the German population, with real examples from the wartime period on display. Through this, we get an opportunity to see what the resistance members were fighting against, and their courage in standing up for truth.

 

Berlin WW2 Memorials:

Soviet War Memorials

Berlin war memorialsThe Berlin war memorials which exist in the city are largely Soviet ones. This is partly because at the end of the second world war the city was captured by the Red Army at great human cost. Two Soviet cemeteries can be found at Tiergarten and Treptow, both of which feature classic examples of Soviet-style memorials. It’s well worth visiting one or both to compare how the war was remembered on both Soviet and German sides.

While the Battle of Berlin and Soviet victory signified an end to fighting in Europe, the end of the second world war was not the end of history’s trials for Berlin.

The result of the second world war was to leave a lasting legacy on Germany, and to understand the full history of what happened to Germany and Berlin after WW2, it’s also worth exploring the following 40 years of Soviet Rule.

Berlin especially felt the impact of these 40 years, existing as a divided city for many of them.

Learn more about how Berlin’s division and The Cold War affected the character of our city here.

 

The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe

AWW2 Berlin things to see visit to The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe is essential viewing. Little needs to be said about the atrocities faced by the Jewish populations of Europe during the Holocaust, but walking around the memorial helps to communicate some of the feelings to which words cannot do justice.

The memorial also features an underground museum dedicated to the innumerable stories and scars left behind after the Holocaust. The exhibition is free to visit, and incorporates personal testimonies, photographs and film from the era.

While most visitors are familiar with the tragic fate of Jewish people deported to concentration camps such as Sachsenhausen during WWII, the community’s history and contribution in Berlin goes far beyond the Third Reich era. Read our guide to Jewish Berlin here. 

Other famous WW2 sights in Berlin and surrounding regions:

WW2 sites in Berlin - The Reichstag

Reichstag:

Berlin’s Reichstag is one of our most famous landmarks, but it is of particular interest for those wanting to understand what happened here during the second world war. From the events which preceded WWII until its very end, the Reichstag was at the centre of numerous pivotal moments.

One of the most iconic images to emerge from the second world war is that of a Red Army soldier waving the soviet flag on the steps of the Reichstag – rubble lying all around. The photo was taken as Berlin fell following the Battle of Berlin, signifying the beginning of the end of conflict in Europe.

Nowadays, the Reichstag has once again become the seat of power in Germany. It has been renovated in spectacular style, its huge glass dome symbolising transparency, light and our commitment to unity and democracy.

 

Potsdam WW2 Sights:

Potsdam is a smaller city around 25km from Central Berlin and capital of the German state of Brandenburg. As the residence of the Prussian kings and German Kaiser until the end of WWI, Potsdam was the location for many key historical events, and still retains many neoclassical palaces such as the Orangery Palace, The New Palace, Cecilienhof Palace and Sanssouci Palace.

Potsdam WWII

During the Third Reich, it became famous once again as the backdrop for decisions which would shape the future landscape of Germany. It was where, in the 1930s, Hitler and his Nazi party drew up their plans for their infamous “Final Solution”, leading to the destruction of the lives of millions of Jews and other marginalised people.

At the end of the war, Potsdam found itself at the centre of global events – this time the Potsdam Conference which would result in the decision to divide Germany following its surrender.

Potsdam is an easy trip from Berlin’s city centre. You can take a local train to get there in around 30 minutes, or alternatively take a one day private guided tour of Potsdam to ensure you soak up all the history it has to offer.

 

Brandenburg Gate

The gate is surely Berlin’s most iconic sight. From its glorious beginnings during the 18th century, to being closed off by the construction of the Berlin wall, it has stood through many of history’s great events.

The gate has been damaged, restored and reconstructed several times, and bullet marks are still visible to guests. However these days the Gate is a symbol of an open and unified German capital city. You can admire the monument from Berlin’s splendid Pariser Platz free of charge.

Private Tours Berlin

The Site of the Führerbunker

From January – May 1945, the Soviet Red Army began to close in on Berlin, eventually surrounding the city. Knowing that their chances of winning the coming battle were slim, Hitler retreated to an old air-raid shelter in search of safety.

In April 1945, it became clear that any possibility of hope was fading. Along with his companion (who he married just 40 hours before) Hitler took his own life on 30th April.

The site of the Führerbunker has mostly been destroyed over the years except for a few underground corridors. These are not open to the public, but a plaque and information board can be found on the site.

Without much on offer for passers-by, it can be hard to visualise the significance of this place. Visiting the area with a guide allows you to hear the complete story of this now destroyed piece of history.

 

Berlin undoubtedly offers some of the most fascinating WWII history of any European city. The sheer number and variety of sights would be enough to fill several trips to our city! If you have a special interest in WW2 history and would like to deepen your understanding of the era’s events, why not consider taking a guided tour on your next visit. Humboldt Tours offer a range of private tours on different topics including The Battle of Berlin and The Third Reich – all of which can be customised to suit your interests. Looking for something different? Simply contact us and we’ll work to create your dream private itinerary. 

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10 Exciting Activities For Groups in Berlin https://humboldttoursberlin.com/best-group-activities-berlin/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=best-group-activities-berlin Sat, 30 Oct 2021 10:46:48 +0000 https://humboldttoursberlin.com/?p=5263 Looking to organise a corporate event in Berlin?   Or maybe you’re arranging a trip for your university or special interest group? Whatever your tastes, Berlin has so many activities for groups on offer – but the most exciting things to do are not always easy to find! From exclusive museum visits to historical tours,…

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Looking to organise a corporate event in Berlin?

 

Or maybe you’re arranging a trip for your university or special interest group? Whatever your tastes, Berlin has so many activities for groups on offer – but the most exciting things to do are not always easy to find!

From exclusive museum visits to historical tours, private parties to active experiences, a little insider knowledge goes a long way when it comes to events. With 15 years’ experience in group activities, we put together a list of some of our favourite ways to spend time together. Here you’ll find activities that not only provide a great bonding experience for your group, but also help you get a glimpse of what makes Berlin so special.

 

Tour Berlin in Classic Cars

Berlin is quite spread out, which means you’ll need to spend a fair bit of time either on foot, on two wheels or hopping about using our public transport system. While all are great ways to get from A to B, if you’d like to make your journey part of the fun, why not opt to cruise round the city in style?

Germany of course has a rich history in the automotive industry, so what better way to celebrate it than with a classic car tour. Choose from a range of vintage models to explore Berlin’s streets including 1960s Lincoln Continentals, Ford Mustangs, 1970s BMWs and Mercedes, Porsche 901s, Soviet-style Trabis and many more! 

Jump in at your hotel, conference centre or wherever you choose. Along your journey, make stops at Berlin’s key landmarks to learn about the history of our city, and see what makes it such a centre for business, arts and culture. End your tour back at your hotel or organise a catered reception, head to a beer garden or book a great restaurant for your group to continue their evening.

 

 

Group activities in Berlin - Classic car tour

 

Berlin Graffiti Workshop

The East Side Gallery is famous for its amazing street art. Some of the most famous pieces are now preserved behind glass to prevent contributions from passing “artists”… but there are other ways to make your mark. 

For a fun bonding experience with your group, why not organise a Graffiti workshop with some of Berlin’s top street artists as your instructors? Your very own patch of wall is your canvas, with all art materials provided. Afterwards, round off the day with onsite catering and a few sundowners as you admire your work. 

 

graffiti workshop Berlin

Spree boat tour with a Berlin Wall Refugee 

Most visitors to Berlin are keen to learn about the history of our divisive former landmark. There are plenty of museums and memorials to visit which give you a sense of what East and West Berlin was like during the Cold War era, but nothing beats hearing the personal stories of someone who lived through it.

Even better, how about someone who escaped across no-man’s land and lived to tell the tale? See Berlin from a totally unique perspective, as we take to the river Spree to trace the real-life escape route of an East-Berlin refugee – who joins us to tell us about his experiences first-hand.

As you hear how our guest risked his life for freedom, you will begin to understand the physical and emotional strength required to make it through East Germany’s defences. A historical experience unlike any other, your group is bound to walk away inspired by our guide’s resilience and courage.

 

Berlin Wall Escape Tour - Communist Berlin

 

Exclusive after-hours Neues Museum tour

If you saw “Night at the Museum” and wished you could be the one walking the corridors after-hours, this could be the perfect experience for you. 

Organise an exclusive private tour of some of Berlin’s most celebrated exhibitions, and have the museum all to yourself. You’ll be joined by a local expert, giving your group the chance to dive into the historical back-stories of rare and unusual artefacts from times gone by. 

Whether you visit the world famous Bust of Nefertiti or one of the constantly changing temporary exhibitions, there’s something magical about being alone in a museum after dark. This is a perfect activity for school or universities, or for special interest trips – why not bring history to life for your group’s next visit.

 

food tour in KreuzbergFoodie adventures in Berlin’s Street Food District

Berlin is a famous centre for street food and art in Europe. Not only do we have some of the best German comfort food in the world (see: Currywurst), our city is also home to a huge range of different communities, each bringing their own unique flavours and creative works to celebrate. 

Kreuzberg in particular is a melting pot for many different populations, and is a great example of what can be achieved where we foster cultural diversity and tolerance. 

Take your group on a guided stroll through a local Kiez (neighbourhood) and notice its unique mix of parks, cafes, independent shops and arty spaces. Together we’ll sample the best snacks and drinks from the area, hear stories about Kreuzberg’s alternative past and present, and discover some of the best street art in the area! 

 

Cold War VR experience at the Berlin Wall

The Berlin Wall is a must-see for your trip to Berlin. Learning about everyday life on both sides of the wall provides a fascinating insight into Berlin during the cold-war era. If you’d like to enrich the experience even further, how about using VR technology to experience how it would have looked 50 years ago?

Donning your Virtual Reality headset at different points along the wall, you’ll find yourself at the centre of an interactive history lesson. Hear about some of the most significant moments in the cold war, see how the wall would have looked, and feel a sense of the claustrophobia of being trapped behind it. 

Seeing Berlin’s most famous landmark in this way makes allow you to visualise what the wall would have been like when Berlin was divided – which can be hard to do when so much has changed! It’s the perfect activity for school history trips to Berlin or for corporate groups. 

 

Secret Jazz Concert at a Berlin Apartment

Ever wished to stumble across the perfect house party? Live music floats out to the street,  free-flowing drinks and a warm welcome await you and your friends. Why not surprise your group by organising your own private party for your next trip to Berlin?

Book a Jazz band or opera singer to perform an exclusive live concert in the living room of a cozy Berlin apartment. Drinks and snacks are on hand – of course – to complete the evening for your group.  

Don’t want the night to end? Why not continue the fun with a night time tour of some of Berlin’s best bars. Book a private roof club, a cabaret show or any number of other options to fit your tastes. 

 

Cocktail-Making Masterclass

 

Cocktail making class berlinBerlin’s nightlife is famous, and the city provides no shortage of places to taste some of the best cocktails in Europe. Of course you can take your group to a cocktail bar, but if you’d like to try something a little more interactive, why not learn how to make your own?

We’ll head to one of our favourite bars for a private lesson in Mixology… shake, mix and muddle your way to a great evening – with plenty of time to drink your creations at the end. 

Great as a warm up for a corporate event or party, or simply as a way to get to know others in your group, a cocktail-making masterclass is bound to get people talking. 

 

 

Private Tango Experience

The national dance of Argentina is one of the most popular in Germany. In fact, Berlin is home to the highest number of tango dancers outside of Argentina! 

If you fancy trying something different with your group in Berlin, how about learning how to master this dramatic dance? With private instruction from top tango dancers in one of the city’s top studios, you’ll be strutting across the ballroom in no time. 

 

Private Dining in Berlin: Pop-up haute-cuisine with your very own chef

Berlin might be home to some of the world’s best restaurants, but that’s not the only way to experience fine dining in the city. Instead of struggling to pin down a reservation, why not organise private dining in Berlin for your group at the time and place that suits you best? Whether you’re looking to host a dinner party at your rented accommodation, or entertain a corporate group post-conference, there are plenty of options to fit your schedule.

Choose the number of courses you’d like to offer, the type of cuisine you prefer and even the serving style – hiring a private chef is the perfect way to create a truly memorable experience for your group.

 

Have we sparked your imagination with these exciting group activities in Berlin? Humboldt tours has over 15 years’ experience in creating bespoke events for groups visiting Berlin, and we would love to help organise your next visit. We specialise in experiences that go beyond the ordinary, allowing you to get to the heart of Berlin while having fun with your group. Learn more about us here. 

We know that it can be stressful to organise a fun programme for groups of any size, so we aim to provide the best possible personal service. Simply talk to us about what you need from your programme, and we’ll be happy to tailor a proposal to your requirements. During the planning process we are here every step of the way to answer your questions and provide all the necessary details for your guests. On the ground, we provide guides and logistical support to ensure that everything runs smoothly – allowing you to step back stress-free and have a great time with your group. 

Want to discuss the options with us? Contact us today for a no-obligation chat. 

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5 Historical Excursions from Berlin, Germany to include during your visit https://humboldttoursberlin.com/5-historical-excursions-from-berlin-germany-to-include-during-your-visit/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=5-historical-excursions-from-berlin-germany-to-include-during-your-visit Sat, 30 Oct 2021 10:29:19 +0000 https://humboldttoursberlin.com/?p=5288 5 Day Trips from Berlin to include during your visit   There’s more to see in Berlin than one visit can possibly cover. Since you’ll be coming back for more anyway, why restrict yourself to the city limits! Some of the most worthwhile sights in the region are easily reached as day tours from Berlin,…

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5 Day Trips from Berlin to include during your visit

 

There’s more to see in Berlin than one visit can possibly cover. Since you’ll be coming back for more anyway, why restrict yourself to the city limits! Some of the most worthwhile sights in the region are easily reached as day tours from Berlin, and we encourage you to include them in your itinerary. Here are five day-trips well worth considering for your next trip to Berlin. With over 15 years experience in private tours, Humboldt Tours can help you organise any of these excursions including

 

Charlottenburg Palace and Gardens

For those interested in Berlin’s historic palaces and gardens, Charlottenburg is a must-visit. Although we include it as a day trip here, it is in fact located within the perimeter of the city – but further out than you might otherwise venture.

The 17th Century palace was built for – and named after – Queen Consort Sophie Charlotte of Prussia as a summer residence. It is a stunning example of the Baroque and Rococo styles that were popular in Prussia at the time – despite being over 300 years old, its original features and collections (gilded staterooms, the Prussian Crown-Jewels, priceless table-wear and much more) have been preserved in all their glory. 

 

historical excursions from Berlin

 

Beyond its aesthetic appeal, the palace is also a good starting point for learning about the history of Berlin. Before 1871, “Germany” existed only as hundreds of independent states and kingdoms, linked under a constantly-changing empire known as “The Holy Roman Empire” {link}. Understanding the history and politics of this era provides an important background to the events which took place in 20th Century Berlin.

The palace can easily be reached by U-bahn (take the U7 to Richard-Wagner-Platz) or taxi. If you’re interested in diving into this history – or just in exploring the beautiful surroundings of the palace and gardens with more context – a licensed local guide is a great idea. We are happy to arrange bespoke tours and excursions to Charlottenburg Palace, learn more here.

Palaces and Cold War history in Potsdam

Continuing the theme of Prussian Palaces and Gardens, taking a trip to Potsdam from Berlin is a must for history lovers. 

This small city near Berlin is associated with the Prussian Royals because of its large number of imperial residences (over 20 stately homes and Palaces). The most famous of these is the Sanssouci Palace, which was the summer residence of Frederick the Great. The city also boasts a charming historical centre which was largely unaffected by WWII – a total contrast to the ever-changing skyline of Berlin.

But Potsdam’s influence didn’t end with the Prussian empire. The city was also the backdrop for some of the world’s most significant decisions in more recent history – most notably the Potsdam Conference of 1945 (held at Cecilienhof Palace) which would result in the division of Germany. Understanding these events will enrich your visit to Berlin, bringing new significance to locations like the Berlin Wall and East Side Gallery.

As a result of its past, Potsdam offers a unique mix of Cold War sights alongside historic state rooms and gardens. You can visit the famous KGB Prison, with its chilling history of torture and sham trials, or The Glienicke Bridge (made famous by Steven Spielberg’s film “Bridge of Spies”) where real-life Cold War spy exchanges took place. 

 

Would you like to take a Potsdam trip from Berlin to immerse yourself in this history? Why not treat yourself to a private guided 1 day itinerary during your visit to Berlin. We offer Potsdam Palaces and Gardens or Potsdam WW2 & Cold War Era tours – but our private guided tours can be customised to your individual interests. 

 

Teufelsberg

A fascinating insight into the landscape of Cold War Berlin, Teufelsberg is a unique site to visit from Berlin. 

The bizarre monument is raised at 114m altitude, on an artificial hill which was originally constructed – almost by accident – as a result of rubble dumped during post-war reconstruction. US forces recognised its strategic position, and erected 5 large satellite dishes used to block radio signals from behind “The Iron Curtain”| during the cold war.

The site offers a fantastic view of Berlin from afar, and the dystopian setting evokes the spirit of the Cold War even now. Take a tour of the area to learn about its mysterious past, and what might become of it in future. 

 

Treptow + Soviet memorial

Day trips from BerlinFor those interested in the WWII history in Berlin, Treptow and its moving War Memorial are well worth a visit. It commemorates around 7000 of the estimated 80 thousand Soviet soldiers who died during the Battle of Berlin. 

Because the city was partly liberated from the Nazis by the Red Army, the largest war memorials in Berlin are Soviet ones; it’s interesting to compare these to the memorials you might find in areas which were captured by allied forces at the end of the war. Treptow Memorial is particularly notable for its size and style, and provides a chance to see Soviet iconography and architecture on a grand scale.

Take some time to explore the free exhibition, which gives background on Treptow and the events that led to the “Fall of Berlin”. The parklands surrounding the memorial are a quiet and peaceful escape from the city, and offer a chance to reflect on what the memorial means in the context of Berlin’s history. 

 

Sachsenhausen

A challenging but essential day trip from Berlin, a visit to Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp and Memorial is an important excursion to include when in Berlin, particularly for those interested in Jewish history.

Sachsenhausen was a German concentration camp located near Berlin in Oranienburg during WW2. Although the Red Army liberated the camp in 1945, the Soviets also used it as a prison camp in the immediate aftermath of the war. During its years of operation between 1936 and 1950, tens of thousands of men, women and children were forced into labour, tortured and killed within its walls. Today, the camp is open as a memorial to all those who suffered and died here, and as a centre for Holocaust education. 

Taking a Sachsenhausen tour with a licensed guide is a must to ensure that you get a full understanding of the chilling events that took place here, as well as the historical backdrop of Nazi Germany. While this is certainly not an excursion to undertake lightly, it is nonetheless an important place to visit in order to learn some of history’s most important lessons.

 

Want to explore further afield on your visit to Berlin? Let us help you explore any of the above with a bespoke private tour itinerary – or take a look at our suggested tour itineraries. Humboldt Tours is a private tour company with roots firmly planted in Berlin. Read more about us here.

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Famous Buildings in Berlin to Visit: https://humboldttoursberlin.com/famous-buildings-in-berlin-to-visit/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=famous-buildings-in-berlin-to-visit Sat, 30 Oct 2021 10:13:35 +0000 https://humboldttoursberlin.com/?p=5296 Top Architectural Sights in the City   Berlin’s architectural history is like an onion, with hundreds of opportunities to peel back the layers of its tumultuous past. Each of these famous Berlin buildings is an icon, representing key eras and events that shaped the city. Want to explore Berlin’s architecture with an expert local guide?…

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Top Architectural Sights in the City

 

Berlin’s architectural history is like an onion, with hundreds of opportunities to peel back the layers of its tumultuous past. Each of these famous Berlin buildings is an icon, representing key eras and events that shaped the city.

Want to explore Berlin’s architecture with an expert local guide? Take a look at our Private Berlin Architecture tour. We adapt our private tours – and create our bespoke tours – to fit your interests. Learn more about Humboldt Tours here.

 

Berlin TV Tower/”Berlin TV Tower”

 

Famous buildings in Berlin: TV TowerNo architectural guide to Berlin could be complete without a mention of the Berlin TV Tower. The tower offers a panoramic viewing point in Alexanderplatz, as well as being an iconic Berlin landmark – visible from just about anywhere else in the city. 

Originally built as a broadcast tower for the East German TV network in the 1950s, the tower has since woven itself into the fabric of the city, a highlight that can’t be missed.

Nowadays you can find a restaurant and bar at the top of the tower, where you can enjoy a light bite while surveying the city.

 

Jewish Museum by Daniel Liebeskind

 

Metal exterior of the Jewish museumConstructed at the start of the new millennium, The Jewish Museum and Garden of Exile is an architectural representation of the Jewish experience over time. 

The museum houses fascinating exhibitions celebrating the Jewish contribution to modern history, but visitors go as much for the building itself as for its contents.

Designed along a deconstructed Star of David, the Museum is a great example of the creativity of Berlin’s modern architecture. Without easily discernible floors, the exhibitions snake up and down the building in a zigzag of sloping floors. Two vertical “voids” run from top to bottom, illuminating the space while disorientating visitors. While in the building you are never far from a sliver of window – signifying the ongoing hope of the Jewish people.

Particularly worthwhile is a visit to the Holocaust Tower. This formidable space is designed to evoke the sense of isolation and fear that Holocaust victims would have experienced. It is a testament to the power of architecture to put us in the shoes of others. 

 

Reichstag Building:

 

Reichstag building - Famous Berlin ArchitectureThe seat of the German parliament, the Reichstag building, has been through more change than most government buildings. The Reichstag has lived through violent protests and destruction in the 1930s, to abandonment during division and – finally – renovation with a fresh vision for the unified future of Germany. 

Visits are not complete without a look around the renovated dome – a symbol for transparency and hope in modern Europe. Reservations are required, and you’ll need to bring your passport for entry.

 

 

Sanssouci Palace

While not strictly in Berlin, Sanssouci Palace is a fantastic example of German imperial architecture from the 18th century. 

Located in the Unesco World Heritage site of Potsdam (where you will also find at least 19 other imperial residences), 250-year-old Sanssouci Palace was originally the summer residence of Frederick the Great. French for “carefree palace”, the name is fitting once you set eyes on its fine gardens, vineyards and gilded state rooms, which are open for visitors to explore.

Take a whole day to explore the best of Potsdam’s palaces and gardens with a private guided excursion from Berlin

 

Famous architecture Berlin: Sanssouci palace

Topography of Terror

Housed in the repurposed KGB headquarters, the Topography of Terror is a must-see for anyone interested in the chequered history of Berlin. 

The actual exhibition spans the courtyard and new building, where you’ll find a photographic journey through the timeline of the Third Reich and following years. 

One of the highlights, though, is the underground cells on which the new museum stands. These were originally used to house and torture prisoners during the Cold War, and have been preserved for visitors. While it makes for a chilling experience to see the cells for yourself, it certainly brings the content of the museum’s exhibition to life. Looking for more cold war and WW2 sights in Berlin? Have a look at our guide to the city’s historical sights.

 

Interesting in exploring the highlights of Berlin but short on time? We are experts in creating tours of Berlin, creating private experiences for our culturally curious guests for over 15 years. Why not explore our Berlin Highlights private tour, which encompasses all the key sites of the city in just one day. Explore all our private tours or find out about our custom tours here.

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24 hours in Berlin, Germany: A 1 Day Itinerary https://humboldttoursberlin.com/what-to-do-berlin-germany-one-day/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=what-to-do-berlin-germany-one-day Sat, 30 Oct 2021 09:56:35 +0000 https://humboldttoursberlin.com/?p=5087 What to do in Berlin if you only have one day:   If one thing is sure, it’s that you could spend months in Berlin and not even scratch the surface of our immense, sprawling city. We think of it like an onion – each time you peel off a layer, you simply find another…

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What to do in Berlin if you only have one day:

 

If one thing is sure, it’s that you could spend months in Berlin and not even scratch the surface of our immense, sprawling city. We think of it like an onion – each time you peel off a layer, you simply find another one to explore underneath. However, sometimes as much as you wish you had more time, you only have one day in Berlin – and it’s our job to help you make the most of your visit.

Our team are architects, historians, actors, activists, academics and all round experts on the city of Berlin: here’s what we’d advise you to do if you only have 24 hours.

 

Don’t Rush:

24 hours in berlinWhile it’s tempting, cramming in as many sights as possible won’t be the best use of your day. Use your time to be selective, to understand the complex history and culture of this city – and have some time to enjoy yourself too.

Let’s assume you arrive around lunchtime and leave the following morning, and you’ll stay in Mitte. You’ve got the full afternoon and evening to get a grasp of what Berlin is about – and if you’re early risers, the following morning too.

If it was up to us? We’d take you on a historical journey to bring you inside Berlin’s past and present character. Have a look at our private Berlin highlights tour here to see what we can do. All our tours are tailored to fit your needs – start from your hotel, take a private van, go by bike, just tell us!

 

Essential background to Berlin’s history before you visit:

The key thing to understand about Berlin is its different historical eras, and how these influenced our city. We can loosely divide Berlin’s city history into 5 important eras.

  • Prussia & German Empire: 1525 – 1918
  • Weimar Republic: 1918 – 1933
  • Third Reich/Nazi Germany: 1933 – 1945
  • Divided Germany & The Cold War : 1946 – 1991
  • Reunification & Modern Germany : 1990 – present

Each era left its mark on Berlin, and all are visible as you explore the city. These periods of our history and the sights that you see during your visit are all linked together. Even with one day in Berlin you can get a sense of how our city came to exist in its present form.

Want to find out more about Berlin’s timeline? Read our in-depth guide to Berlin’s timeline here. 

 

Your first afternoon: Famous Landmarks in Berlin

Take a historical afternoon walk through the city’s key historical sights. Walking is the best way to make the most of your one day in Berlin – the city is very pedestrian friendly and you’ll see much more as you walk by, even if you don’t stop. 

Berlin’s most famous sights have stood through the eras, and while some are older than others, they all provide visible links between the different periods of history in our city.

Once you have arrived in Mitte, your first stop should be the political quarter. Walking south, you’ll pass the Reichstag, The Brandenburg Gate and The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. From the political heart of German life, to commemorating one of our greatest tragedies – each of these sights played a key role in the formation of Berlin today. Spend some time here to reflect on the significance of these locations.

Keep walking south to discover more about the period from 1933 onwards. Along Zimmerstrasse you’ll come across the Topography of Terror museum, which gives a great overview of the key historical events leading up and beyond to WWII. Located at one of the key crossing points between East and West Berlin, you can also see various museums and memorials dedicated to the Cold War years, which you might like to come back to tomorrow morning.

 

One day in Berlin itinerary

 

As an optional extra, extend your walk Southwards towards the Jewish Musuem of Berlin. As well as being a fascinating museum with exhibitions on the contribution of the Jewish population to Berlin’s past and present, the architecture itself – including the Garden of Exile and the Holocaust Tower – is unique and well worth a visit.

Find out more about the Jewish history of Berlin with our full day and half day Jewish History Tour.

Hop on board the subway to U Silesian Gate to visit the East Side Gallery. This must-see section of the old Berlin wall has been preserved as a street gallery of contemporary art. It’s one of Berlin’s most well known attractions, and is open to anyone: there are no tickets required and you may even see people adding their own contribution to the wall… For more context on the Berlin Wall and the Cold War wall, make sure you pay a visit to one of the cold war museums close to Checkpoint Charlie, as the East Side Gallery doesn’t offer background information.

If you’d like to explore more of Berln’s Cold War and Communist History, we provide specially tailored private tours with a local expert.

Heading back to the centre either on foot or by train, make your way to Bebelplatz and Museum Island to discover grand imperial buildings from pre-WWII Berlin: The Opera House, Berliner Dom, Altes Museum and more. Stop off for a visit in whichever sparks your interest, or continue across the Spree towards Alexanderplatz and the iconic TV Tower. Finally, weave your way back towards the very centre of Berlin through the Jewish quarter of Berlin, where visitors can now find trendy shops, cafes and eateries.

 

Although this walk gives you a chance to tick off many of the top sights in Berlin, we don’t recommend trying to include everything!

 

Pick one or two sights to stop at and spend time – don’t rush – you can come back to the rest. If you want to make the absolute most of your time, hiring a local guide is the best way. With a Berlin expert at your side, even walking through a square or walking down the street gives you chance to learn about the key historic and cultural events that took place right here. Learn more about our tours tailored just for you.

 

Evening: What to do in Berlin at Night

 

Berlin is a city that comes alive at night – from street food celebrations to fine dining, from high brow culture to all night dancing.

Depending on your interests, your evening in Berlin is another chance to understand the soul of our city. You could spend the evening at a classic biergarten, visit a Michelin starred restaurant or take a night time tour to discover even more of the city’s culture and history.

During the summer especially, Berliners love to celebrate the long nights outdoors. The city is overflowing with open air music and cultural events to discover – event listings include outdoor opera, contemporary performance art, historical and philosophical lectures, outdoor concerts and film showings. For up to date listings take a look at the Visit Berlin website. 

 

what to see in berlin at night

 

To make the most of your time, we are happy to arrange exciting and unusual evening events – unique dining experiences, after-hours private museum visits or night-time tours are all part of our service! Learn more about our custom tours and fun group activities.

 

Before you go home: Cultural Activities in Berlin

With only a little time left, make sure you rise early to get the most from your visit.

After breakfast, use your remaining time to revisit a museum or gallery that you didn’t get to the previous day. Some of the best art galleries and museums to visit in Berlin include:

  • The Jewish Museum
  • The Berlin Wall Memorial & Museum
  • Hamburger Bahnhopf – Contemporary Art Museum
  • Neues Museum
  • Pergamon Museum
  • Berlin Gallery

If you would like to dive even deeper into the history and culture of our city, we can organise an out-of-hours tour or private guide of Berlin’s museums as part of your visit. Just get in touch and we’ll be happy to assist.

Happily topped up with culture and a great understanding of Berlin’s past and present, you can head home with a list of what to see next time.

 

 At Humboldt tours we pride ourselves on our bespoke historical itineraries and expert guides. Whether you have 24 hours or 7 days in and around Berlin, we can arrange a tour itinerary that covers all your interests. We can also offer unique experiences in the surrounding regions, group activities for organisations or universities, and complete Germany holiday packages.

Learn more about our private tour itineraries, or our custom experiences here.

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