What an adventure today! Sometimes the best laid plans don’t work out. And sometimes those mistakes can lead to great experiences. Today a large group of us were going to start the morning with a boat tour down the Spree River and then visit a museum. Well, two other teachers and myself got held up and separated from the group. We worked on catching up, but unbeknownst to us, we were going in the completely wrong direction. However, we got to see a lot of the city (not to mention get A TON of steps in) and ended up going straight to Museuminsel (Museum Island). Getting to Museuminsel so quickly allowed us to see both the Altes Museum (ancient Roman & Greek work) and the Neues Museum (ancient Egyptian works). My favorite room of both was, by far, the Rotunda in the Altes Museum (which was built in the 1820s!!!). Along the wall are lifesize statues of Greek gods and on the dome ceiling are images of winged figures and zodiac symbols.
Along the same plaza as the Altes Museum was the Berliner Dom (Berlin Cathedral).
The first half of the afternoon included a short bus tour on our way to the Reichstag (German Parliament building). We saw the Konzerthaus Berlin (I bet you can figure out what that is), the French Church (built in the early 1700s because the French wanted to go to a church that spoke French), and the German Church (built for the same denomination as the French church but with services in German), Checkpoint Charlie (the third, and most famous, Allied checkpoint between East & West Berlin), Trabi World (Trabant are a car unique to East Germany).
I’ve always considered myself fairly knowledgeable about history, but I’m realizing there is SO much I don’t know about the second half of the 20th century, especially concerning world affairs. I’m starting to see just how superficial my knowledge is when it comes to the years between World War II and the new millennium. And what little knowledge I do have is very US-centric. I definitely need to go back and learn more of the history of this era.
We also got to stop at a well known chocolate shop. They had these AMAZING chocolate sculptures.
Gotta love German humour…
After this tour we traveled to see the Brandenburg gate. Just a few blocks away was where the Berlin wall passed and also nearby is the Reichstag.
The Reichstag has a very long and, in parts, terrible history. Home to the German government, it was set on fire in the early 1930s with the rise of the Nazis. Severely destroyed, it fell into disuse until the 1960s when it was rebuilt, but did not become the seat of the German government again until after German reunification.
My favorite part about the building is that due to the nature of German elections, the number of people elected from each party can change. So seats must be rearranged to accommodate the correct number of people in each of the party groups. So flexible seating has even made its way to the German government! 🙂
That night I got my first experience riding the German Ubahn (underground train). We traveled to see the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church and then found a DELICIOUS German restaurant for dinner (I had the Wiener Schnitzel).
All in all, a very long, but exciting day with tons of new learning and appreciation for the city of Berlin and its history!