Potsdamer Platz


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Potsdamer Platz was once one of the busiest intersections in Europe and the geographical center of Berlin, but was completely destroyed during World War II. The area remained largely abandoned during the Cold War, as the Berlin Wall bisected it and sections formed the “death strip” of the Berlin Wall. After the wall fell, Potsdamer Platz was redeveloped with spectacular modern architecture and once again is a major and important intersection.

On our second day in Berlin, we toured Potsdamer Platz and visited some other sights in the area, including the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag Dome and the Berlin Wall Memorial. Below are trip highlights from January 26th, 2020. Click any image for a larger view, or click the position to view the location on a map. And a live map of our current route and most recent log entries always is available at mvdirona.com/maps.

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PowerPort Cube
We recently added an Anker PowerPort Cube to our travelling kit and are really liking it. When travelling outside North America, it reduces the number of power adapters we need to carry, providing three outlets for one adapter. When the wall outlet is in an inconvenient location, the extension cord allows us to bring the power outlets closer to us. And the shape allows us to utilize all the three outlets without interference when using large plugs and wall warts.
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Potsdamer Platz
The dramatic Sony Center at Potsdamer Platz.
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Korean Pavilion
The Korean “Pavilion of Reunification” at Potsdamer Platz. With an information display mounted on an original piece of the Berlin Wall, the pavilion represents the Korean population’s desire for reunification. The two-row brick line that runs underneath the wall follows the original path of the wall throughout the city.
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Rogers Twins
The futuristic twin office buildings Linkstrasse 2 and Linkstrasse 4 by British architect Richard Rogers, who also designed the Lloyd’s Building and the O2 Arena in London.
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Potsdamer Platz Arkaden
Looking along part of the vast Potsdamer Platz Arkaden. The 430,000 sq ft (40,000 sq m) shopping mall has 120 shops, restaurants and bars with a focus on fashion and high-end garments.
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Haus Huth
Haus Huth at the north end of Potsdamer Platz Arkaden. Built in 1912, this is the only historic building remaining in Potsdamer Platz—the rest were destroyed during World War II. The former wine house of vintner Christian Huth, the building likely survived due to its solid steel construction designed for storing heavy wine.
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Kammermusiksaal
The Kammermusiksaal (“Chamber Music Hall’) in front of the Berliner Philharmonie, home to the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. The 2,240-seat Berliner Philharmonie was completed in 1963 in West Berlin to replace the one destroyed by World War II bombing raids, and the 1,180-seat Kammermusiksaal was completed in the 1980s.
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Neue Nationalgalerie
The Neue Nationalgalerie (New National Gallery) museum of modern art opened in 1968 as an expansion to the Alte Nationalgalerie (Old National Gallery) on Museum Island near our hotel. The museum currently is undergoing several years of renovation.
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Galileo
The sculpture Galileo in the lake Piano-See at Potsdamer Platz.
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Stage Bluemax
Stage Bluemax Theatre was purpose built for the first European home of the Blue Man Group. The blue globe that forms the theater is just visible over the top of the building, and is obvious in the satellite imagery.
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Lindenbrau
A great lunch at the Lindenbrau brewpub, inside the Sony Center at Potsdamer Platz.
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Sony Center
A panoramic view of the Sony Center interior. Lindenbrau, where we had lunch, is directly left of the leftmost opening to outside.
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Buddy Bear
Large “Buddy Bears”, painted in different schemes, stand throughout Berlin. The bears were conceived by two German businesspeople to promote friendliness and optimism.
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Lessing Monument
Monument in Berlin’s popular Tiergarten park to German philosopher and poet Gotthold Ephraim Lessing .
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Holocaust Memorial
The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, also called the Holocaust Memorial, consists of 2,711 concrete slabs arranged in rows and standing slightly askew. The slabs have the same surface area of 7 ft 10 in x 3 ft 1 in (2.38×0.95 m) but vary in height from (3 ft 1 in) wide and vary in height from 7.9 in to 15 ft 5.0 in (0.2 to 4.7 m). The project is designed to “produce an uneasy, confusing atmosphere, and the whole sculpture aims to represent a supposedly ordered system that has lost touch with human reason”.
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US Embassy
The US Embassy in Berlin, opposite the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. Security here seemed less obvious and aggressive than at most US Embassies in Europe, such as the one in Paris.
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Brandenburg Gate
Brandenburg Gate, built in 1791, is one of the most famous landmarks in Germany and has been the site of many major historical events. Napoleon marched through the gate in triumph following the 1806 Prussian defeat and the Nazis used it as a party symbol. During the Cold War, the gate was in the “death strip” on the East German side of the wall and Ronald Regan stood before it on the west side to deliver his famous “Tear Down This Wall” speech in 1987, calling for Mikhail Gorbachev to open the wall. When the wall fell in 1969, iconic pictures broadcast around the world showed thousands of people standing on the wall in front of Brandenburg Gate to celebrate.
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Marie-Elisabeth-Luders Haus
The dramatic Marie-Elisabeth-Luders Haus, a federal building named after social politician and women’s rights campaigner Marie Elisabeth Luders.
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German Chancellery
The spectacular German Chancellery building opened in 2001. The agency is responsible for assisting the German Chancellor, currently Angela Markel, in coordinating the activities of the federal government. Occupying 129,166 sq ft (12,000 m sq), it is the largest government headquarters in the world.
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Reichstag Building
The Reichstag Building, erected in 1894, is the historic home of the German parliament. The building was severely damaged in World War II and fell into disuse until a major renovation following German reunification, when it once again became the home of the German parliament. The building is the second-most visited in Germany, mainly due to the publicly-accessible dome visible in the center that provides sweeping views over the city.
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Reichstag Dome
Because the Reichstag Building is a government building, security checks are in place and visitors need to register 1-2 weeks in advance in order to visit at a set time slot. A specially-designed separate entry provides elevator access for visitors to a roof-top deck at the base of the dome.
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Mirrored Cone
A mirrored cone in the center of the Reichstag Dome directs sunlight into the building and the parliamentary chambers directly below.
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Walking the Dome
Two sets of ramps, resembling a double-helix, allow visitors to walk up and down the sides of the dome and take in the views both inside and out.
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River Spree
Looking east along the river Spree from the Reichstag Dome. Friedrichstrasse station, at our hotel, is visible in the distance where the river disappears from view.
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Looking Down
Visitors can look down into the parliamentary chambers from the dome, symbolizing that the people are above the government and not the other way around as it was when the Nazis were in power.
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Parliament
A photograph of the German parliament assembled beneath the dome. It’s pretty impressive that the dome is publicly accessible given that the government meets right below.
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Kafer
Taking a break at the rooftop restaurant Kafer adjacent to the Reichstag Dome.
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Batteries
A van full of batteries for Berlin’s Emmy ride-sharing electric scooters. Rather than charge the batteries in the scooter, a service person swaps the used batteries for fully-charged ones.
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Window of Remembrance
From Reichstag Dome, we took a train north to visit the Berlin Wall Memorial. This is the sobering Window of Remembrance, dedicated to the 138 people who lost their lives at the Berlin Wall.
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Viewing Platform
Looking from west to east across a preserved section of the Berlin Wall fortifications from a viewing platform at the Berlin Wall Memorial. The wall is original, but the fortifications and watchtower were reconstructed to show how the border grounds would have looked in the early 1980s.

Someone trying to escape would first encounter the white inner wall. A signal fence beyond that, the posts from which are still visible, would have set off an alarm if touched. Beyond that, no longer in place, would have been surface obstacles, such as mats with steel spikes sticking out that injured several people during their escape. Farther west was a security strip containing anti-vehicle obstacles and then finally, the 11.8ft (3.6m) wall that was the final obstacle to the west and the dominant image of the Berlin Wall today.

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1961
One of several poignant photos in the Berlin Wall Memorial Documentation Center tracing the history of the wall’s construction. This photo shows two children reaching out across a temporary barbed-wire border line on Aug 13, 1961, the day the border between West and East Berlin was closed.
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1965
Bernaeur Strasse in West Germany became known as the “saddest street in the world” because of the number of escape attempts there that resulted in fatalities in the weeks after the Berlin Wall went up. The buildings on the right have all been bricked up to prevent people escaping through them and a precursor to the final version of the Berlin Wall is visible across the open section between the buildings in front of the Church of Reconciliation. The church itself is in East Germany.
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1985
To create a clear field of fire in the “death strip,” the East German government cleared all the buildings away. In 1985, they demolished the 1894-built Church of Reconciliation on Bernaeur Strasse. In this photo the final version of the Berlin Wall is visible on the left, the inner wall is at right and between them are anti-vehicle obstacles.
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1990
A photo of the “death strip” on Bernaeur Strasse after the fall of the wall, showing how the area had been completely razed. The apartment buildings in the background are visible behind the Church of Reconciliation in the previous photo.
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Wall Down
When the Berlin Wall opened on November 9, 1989 thousands and thousands of Germans congregated there to celebrate.
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Heckmann-Hofe
Walking through a passage into Heckmann-Hofe, a 19th-century courtyard complex where we’ll be having dinner at the Night Kitchen.
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Night Kitchen
An exceptional meal in the glass atrium of the Night Kitchen in Heckmann-Hofe.
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Bode Museum
A still night looking east along the river Spree to the Bode Museum as we walk back to the hotel from dinner at the Night Kitchen.
Show locations on map Click the travel log icon on the left to see these locations on a map, with the complete log of our cruise.

On the map page, clicking on a camera or text icon will display a picture and/or log entry for that location, and clicking on the smaller icons along the route will display latitude, longitude and other navigation data for that location. And a live map of our current route and most recent log entries always is available at mvdirona.com/maps.

 
 


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