Checkpoint Charlie

Checkpoint Charlie, Berlin

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Checkpoint Charlie is the famous checkpoint during the Cold War era. It is the former border crossing from the Soviet Union to the US sector inside Berlin. Unfortunately, little remains of the original post. The border crossing between Berlin-Mitte and Kreuzberg was one of the few passages for diplomats and other chosen people.

Near the Checkpoint is also the Haus am Checkpoint Charlie, where you will find a lot of historical material and many photos. From which you can also read many stories about extraordinary escape attempts. Some successful, but most without a happy ending. The most famous story is that of the teenager, Peter Fechter, who lost his life while trying to cross from East to West. This third Allied border crossing gets its name from the phonetic alphabet where Charlie stands for C.

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Holocaust Memorial

Holocaust Memorial, Berlin

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Surely one of Berlin’s most impressive sights is the Holocaust Memorial, a powerful monument to commemorate the millions of Jews murdered in Europe. Located in the city centre, the Holocaust memorial consists of 2,700 stones, all different in shape and size, symbolising all the different types of people who became victims of the Holocaust.

Here you can walk through the metre-high, grey concrete blocks, as the stones are made up of different sizes and shapes, this gives you the feeling that the monument is ‘undulating’. Combined with the undulating floor, this has a rather disorienting effect on visitors. And it perfectly captures how the Jews must have felt during this terrible time.

At the Holocaust Memorial, there is also an accompanying visitor centre. Here, the exhibition is particularly good and will move you to tears.

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Reichstag, Berlin

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One of the most famous and beautiful sights in Berlin is the Reichstag. With its massive architecture and futuristic glass dome, this is an amazing building.

Built in 1894, the Reichstag has been through a lot in the 20th century. It has since been burnt down, bombed, rebuilt, walled and packed in dust. This (lit) fire was at the beginning of World War II. It was only after the fall of the Berlin Wall that the Reichstag was restored again. Today, the building is mainly used for plenary sessions of the Bundestag (the German parliament).

Besides being used for plenary sessions, anyone can visit the building. You can take a guided tour or explore the building on your own. The highlight is the building’s breathtaking glass dome. But mainly the view from the roof terrace is a must see!

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Brandenburger Tor

Brandenburger Tor, Berlin

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The Brandenburg Gate is one of the most recognisable sights in Berlin and perhaps even in all of Germany! You can’t visit Berlin without visiting the Brandenburg Gate. The Brandenburg Gate is the symbol of union and freedom. It is a powerful monument that holds a lot of emotions and meaning.

The Brandenburg Gate became the symbol of the Cold War, when the entrance gate stood exactly on the site of the Berlin Wall. After the fall of the Wall, John F. Kennedy’s world-famous speech “Ich bin ein Berliner” was also given here. Today, it is the only remaining of the former 18 city gates and a popular photo opportunity for visitors from all over the world. Despite being one of the busiest locations, this place is not to be missed!

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Take a Cruise

Take a Cruise, Cologne

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When visiting Cologne, there is no better way to admire the city than from the water. Right across Cologne is the Rhine River, at several places in the city you can board a boat to take a beautiful cruise on the water. During a 1.5-hour boat trip, you will sail through the historic city centre and see Cologne’s best sights from a distance.

In winter, Cologne is beautifully illuminated and you will see Cologne at its most beautiful during this Rhine cruise. On board, live music is often played and you can enjoy a hot mulled wine, or cold beer, while Cologne passes you by.

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Altstadt, Cologne

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If you love historical churches and museums and come to Cologne, Altstadt is the place to visit. The Altstadt is Cologne’s oldest district, located on the west bank of the Rhine. Although a large part of the city centre was destroyed by bombing in World War II, the section between Alter Markt and the Rhine was thoroughly restored afterwards. This has led to a distinction being made inside Cologne’s central district (Innenstadt) between the old historic centre (Altstadt) and the newer part (Neustadt).

In the Altstadt, you will find rustic narrow streets with traditional old houses and the famous Cologne Cathedral and the Great St. Martin. These streets are photogenic and therefore attract many visitors. 

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HohenzollernBrücke, Cologne

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If you come to Cologne, be sure to take a walk across the Hohenzollerbrücke, a railway and pedestrian bridge over the Rhine named after the Hohenzollern family that ruled Germany up to and including the 1918 revolution. Unfortunately, like almost every bridge in Germany, this beautiful bridge was not spared during the bombings of World War II. After it was rebuilt, they decided to ban cars so that now only pedestrians and trains can use it. It is Cologne’s most famous bridge and well worth a visit.

It is a draw for couples who like to immortalise their love on a padlock on the railing of the bridge, just like so many bridges in Europe, love locks are hung here which you also see in other European cities like Paris. It is even said, that the locks collectively now weigh more than two tonnes.

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Cologne Cathedral

Cologne Cathedral, Köln

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Cologne has as many as 240 churches in total, including 12 large Romanesque cathedrals. Old Cologne Cathedral or Kölner Dom is undoubtedly the most famous and eye-catching. The Cathedral is considered a masterpiece of Gothic architecture.

Despite heavy bombing, Cologne Cathedral survived both world wars almost unscathed and is more than 765 years old and now added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

For stunning views, climb Cologne Cathedral. The climb to the top is a whopping 509 steps, a hefty climb, but well worth it for the view. This is the largest cathedral in Germany and even one of the largest cathedrals in the whole of Europe. This makes it the most visited landmark in all of Germany, as Cologne Cathedral is visited by 20,000 people daily.

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