Filed in TOURISM by on August 8, 2010

Berlin: So young, so beautiful, so free
Sunday, 8 Aug 2010


TOYOSI OGUNSEYE writes that if you want to enjoy Europe during summer, Berlin is the place to be because there is no dull moment in this city where you will never get lost as long as you have a map

IF your ideal city must have beautiful architecture, green environment, little or no traffic and great night life, then Berlin, the capital of Germany, is the place to be.

It is truly a fascinating city. If there are no carnivals to entertain you, there will be parties to excite you and if you like shopping, the malls will thrill you. In Berlin, an open and 21st century metropolis, there is something for everybody.

Since reunification in 1990, the face of Germany‘s capital city has changed dramatically. It has emerged as a major European traffic junction as a result of the comprehensive reconstruction and expansion of the city‘s railway system. Hauptbahnhof, the new central station, serves as Europe‘s largest railway station.

On the building‘s five levels, passengers can access trains travelling on north-south and east-west routes. 1,100 intercity, regional and commuter trains stop here each day. More than one billion passengers each year use Berlin‘s local transport consisting of buses, trams, subways and elevated trains. The good thing about these modes of transportation is that they always keep to time.

Being the seat of the German federal government, it is home to the nation‘s leading business federations and more than 1,000 other associations active in business, science, health care, politics, culture and society.

The German Budenstag, which is the heart of the country‘s democracy, lies in Berlin. Whoever sits as a member there is elected by the German people and makes laws for everyone living in Germany. The Bundestag is an open house and has become a world-famous tourist attraction.

Guests from around the world make sure that they do not leave Berlin without visiting the Bundestag. Norbert Lammert, the president of the Bundestag describes it this way, ”The German Bundestag is not just a public body like any other. It is at the very heart of our constitutional order. It is the pivotal political forum of the nation.”

Berlin lies on the east-west axis between Moscow and London and on a north-south axis between Stockholm and Rome. It is one of the most ‘happening‘ cultural centres in Europe. Casper Ludwig, a native of Berlin says, ”The city has three major opera houses, 150 theatres and 170 museums, memorials and collections. Berlin has over 500 delightful palaces and parks, all of which are unique in Europe, including Charlottenburg Palace, Sanssouci Palace in Potsdam, the Museum Island in Berlin and the Kulturforum at Potsdamer Platz. Almost 200,000 people are employed at more than 25, 800 small and medium-size companies active in the cultural industry in Berlin.”

One of the outstanding museums, which is also one of Europe‘s best, is the Jewish Museum. Its exhibitions and permanent collection, educational activities, and diverse programme of events make the museum a vibrant centre for the German-Jewish history and culture.

An architectural masterpiece, Daniel Libeskind‘s spectacular structure has firmly established itself as one of Berlin‘s most recognisable landmarks. The zinc-panelled building is truly innovative in the connection it creates between the museum‘s themes and its architecture. Libeskind dubbed his design ‘Between the Lines,’ a title which reflects the tensions of German-Jewish history. Rich in symbolism, the museum‘s architecture makes German-Jewish history palpable, raises numerous questions and provokes reflection.

Berlin, with its splendour, is no doubt ‘high maintenance.‘ The high quality of life in Berlin is one of the most persuasive arguments for investing in the city. Despite its size, the city is a green metropolis: 30 per cent of the city‘s surface is made up of forests, parks, lakes, rivers and canals. Berlin‘s proximity to the beaches of the Baltic Sea and the forests of Brandenburg also adds to the number of leisure activities available to Berliners. Berlin offers a wide variety of shopping opportunities. In fact, the city has over 60 departments‘ stores and shopping centres.

Berlin doesn‘t just feel young; it is young. Roughly 40 per cent of the city‘s residents are under 35. The city is home to Germans from all over the country plus more than a half million people from over 180 nations.

In Berlin, nightlife and lifestyle go hand in hand. New trends are constantly being discovered and original fashion styles established. Music is especially important to lifestyle in Berlin; the techno music that was once performed in abandoned buildings and basements now has an indelible influence on entire city districts.

The capital‘s vibrant club scene has a tremendous influence on young Berlin. More than 200 bars, clubs, and lounges keep the city‘s pulse beating strong. Drawn to districts such as Mitte, Prenzlauer Berg, Friedrichsain and Kreuzberg, the alternative scene is always on the move, seeking out the latest and greatest place to be. Old cellar vaults, car repair shops and abandoned factories provide the spaces for young Berlin to dance the night away.

Sara Jordan, a native of Berlin says, ”Every summer, a number of prominent festivals transform Berlin into one big open-air stage. Whether it‘s world music, rock, pop, cinema, street festivals, or theatre, there‘s always something for everyone.”

The Love Parade began in 1989 as a spontaneous get-together and developed over the course of several years into a mega-event attended by up to one million people. Every year, the colourful gay and lesbian parade on Christopher‘s Street Day attracts thousands of people from Germany and other parts of the world.

Over 80 nations also participate in the annual Carnival of Cultures, a colourful street festival and carnival parade. The Fete de la Musique music festival marks the beginning of the summer each year in Berlin.

Berlin represents one of the largest and most diverse science regions in Europe. Approximately 200,000 people from all over the world study, teach, work and perform research at the region‘s four universities, seven professionals and colleges, three art colleges, 12 private university-level school and colleges as well as over 70 research institutes. The state of Berlin invests approximately €1.35m annually in university-level studies.

When it comes to advertising and public relations, Berlin is where the talent is. Over 2,000 advertising, marketing and PR agencies collaborate with established national representatives to create a strong and innovative advertising industry.

Around-the-clock, news emanates from the Government District as hundreds of German and foreign journalists work around the clock at the Bundespressehaus (Federal Press House) and countless other editorial offices in the capital city. Forty different radio broadcasters inform and entertain radio listeners in the capital region. The capital has 11 daily papers, 15 city magazines and several national newspapers.

Along with German, the languages spoken in Germany‘s largest city include Turkish, English, Russian, Polish and Spanish. And if you are going to stay in Berlin for a long while, learning German will be the perfect thing to do because English is a rarity.


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