Mitte Orientation Walk, Berlin (Self Guided)

Ever since the reunification of Germany, Berlin has been enjoying a growing influx of tourists year on year. This orientation walk takes you to the central-most borough of Berlin – Mitte – emerged in 2001 as a result of amalgamation of some former West and East Berlin districts. On this tour you will visit, among other attractions, some of the city's most iconic highlights, such as the Brandenburg Gate, Unter den Linden, Pariser Platz, Reichstag and many others.
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Mitte Orientation Walk Map

Guide Name: Mitte Orientation Walk
Guide Location: Germany » Berlin (See other walking tours in Berlin)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 13
Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.8 km
Author: clare
1
Reichstag Building

1) Reichstag Building (must see)

The Reichstag Building is a historical edifice in Berlin, Germany, constructed to house the Reichstag, parliament of the German Empire. It was opened in 1894 and housed the Reichstag until 1933 when it was severely damaged in a fire supposedly set by Dutch communist Marinus van der Lubbe. After the Second World War, the Reichstag building fell into disuse as the parliament of the German Democratic Republic met in the Palace of the Republic in East Berlin and the parliament of the Federal Republic of Germany met in the Bundeshaus in Bonn. The official German reunification ceremony on 3 October 1990, was held at the Reichstag building, including Chancellor Helmut Kohl, President Richard von Weizsäcker, former Chancellor Willy Brandt and many others. One day later, the parliament of the united Germany would assemble in an act of symbolism in the Reichstag building. The Reichstag dome is the large glass dome at the very top of the building. The dome has a 360-degree view of the surrounding Berlin cityscape and is open to anyone, although the waiting queues can be very long, especially in summertime.

Why You Should Visit:
Free attraction providing some pretty unique views across Berlin.
The lift takes you up to the top floor where you pick up audio guides and are then free to wander into the dome and take photos.

Tip:
Don't forget to book in advance at the information desk or via the website, and you'll need identification for entry.
If you make a reservation in the Käfer Roofgarden at the very top, you don't have to stand in line (note: the Käfer is in the pricey category).
Don't forget to wrap up, as all the glass "windows" are actually open and it gets pretty cold up there.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 8am-12am
Sight description based on wikipedia
2
Brandenburg Gate

2) Brandenburg Gate (must see)

The Brandenburg Gate (German: Brandenburger Tor) is a former city gate and one of the main symbols of Berlin and Germany. It is located west of the city center at the junction of Unter den Linden and Ebertstraße, immediately west of the Pariser Platz. It is the only remaining gate of a series through which one formerly entered Berlin. One block to the north stands the Reichstag building. The gate is the monumental entry to Unter den Linden, the renowned boulevard of linden trees which formerly led directly to the city palace of the Prussian monarchs. The Gate survived World War II and was one of the few structures standing in the Pariser Platz ruins in 1945. Vehicles and pedestrians could travel freely through the gate until the Berlin Wall was built, 13 August 1961. The Wall was erected as an arc just west of the gate, cutting off access from West Berlin. When the Revolutions of 1989 occurred and the Wall fell, the gate symbolized freedom and the desire to unify the city of Berlin.

Why You Should Visit:
Besides the photo-op, its historical significance alone should be enough a reason to visit.

Tip:
Go and see it when it gets dark as it looks stunning when lit up.
Sight description based on wikipedia
3
Pariser Platz

3) Pariser Platz (must see)

The Pariser Platz is a large square located behind Berlin's Brandenburg Gate and named after the French capital city, Paris to commemorate the defeat of Napoleon and occupation of France by Prussian armed forces and other armies that formed the allied forces in 1814.

The Pariser Platz was a grand square in Berlin and many important buildings stood around it. It was laid between 1732 and 1735 and was simply called "the square" at first, before being renamed in honor of the services of the Prussian army in the defeat of Napoleon. Notable structures that flanked the square were the French and American Embassies, the Academy of Arts and the Aldon Hotel which was once the finest in Berlin. After the Berlin bombings during WWII, only the Brandenburg Gate remained standing though damaged by bombing raids and artillery fire. In divided Germany, the square was an abandoned space that divided Berlin. Today, Pariser Platz is being restored to its former glory by the city government.

Pariser Platz is an important tourist meeting place in unified Berlin. Many walking tours start here and it is also the spot where visitors can rent bikes for touring and take horse cart rides around the city. The Brandenburg Gate flanking the square is an important monument and Berlin's best-known landmark.

Why You Should Visit:
The best point to get a good photo of the Brandenburg Gate and also the beginning of "Unter den Linden" Boulevard.

Tip:
Do yourself a favor: come early in the morning or late at night to have this beautiful square to yourself. Special architecture and pretty illumination. Take your private, undisturbed walk through the Brandenburg Gate at 11pm and enjoy.
In the morning, sneak into DZ Bank and get a glimpse at the fascinating architecture. Or visit the exhibitions in the Max-Liebermann-Haus right next to the gate, where paintings of the 1920s are displayed.
Sight description based on wikipedia
4
Holocaust Memorial

4) Holocaust Memorial (must see)

The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe (German: Denkmal für die ermordeten Juden Europas), also known as the Holocaust Memorial (German: Holocaust-Mahnmal), is a memorial in Berlin to the Jewish victims and other victims of the Holocaust, designed by architect Peter Eisenman and engineer Buro Happold. It consists of a 19,000 square meter site covered with 2,711 concrete slabs or "stelae", one for each page of the Talmud arranged in a grid pattern on a sloping field. According to Eisenman's project text, the stelae are 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. An attached underground "Place of Information" (German: Ort der Information) holds the names of all known Jewish Holocaust victims, obtained from the Israeli museum Yad Vashem. It was inaugurated on May 10, 2005, sixty years after the end of World War II, and opened to the public on May 12 of the same year.

Tip:
After walking outside around the monuments, make your way downstairs to the free exhibit (€3 for an audio guide). It takes about 45 minutes to walk through, starting with the history of the Holocaust, then displaying some snippets of letters and journal entries by those taken to concentration camps.

Opening Hours:
Tue-Sun: 10am-8pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
5
Unter den Linden

5) Unter den Linden (must see)

Unter den Linden ("under the linden trees") is an iconic boulevard in the central Mitte district of Berlin, named for its linden ("lime" in British English) trees that line the grassed pedestrian mall between two carriageways. Unter den Linden runs east-west from the site of the former Stadtschloss royal palace at the Lustgarten park, where the demolished Palast der Republik used to be, to Pariser Platz and Brandenburg Gate.

Unter den Linden at the heart of the historic section of Berlin developed from a bridle path laid out by Elector John George of Brandenburg in the 16th century to reach his hunting grounds in the Tiergarten. It was replaced by a boulevard of linden trees planted in 1647, extending from the city palace to the gates of the city, by order of the “Great Elector” Frederick William. By the 19th century, as Berlin grew and expanded to the west, Unter den Linden became the best-known and grandest street in Berlin.

Why You Should Visit:
At one end you have the Brandenburg Gate and Pariser Platz, and to the other end, you have Berlin Cathedral and Alexanderplatz. In between is a feast for the eyes.

Tip:
Get your walking shoes on and immerse yourself.
If you visit in early October, catch the Festival of Lights.
Sight description based on wikipedia
6
Bebelplatz

6) Bebelplatz (must see)

The Bebelplatz is a public square in the central Mitte district of Berlin, located on the south side of the Unter den Linden Boulevard, a major east-west thoroughfare in the city centre. The square is named after August Bebel, a founder of the Social Democratic Party of Germany in the 19th century. The square, then called Platz am Opernhaus, was laid out between 1741 and 1743 under the rule of King Frederick II of Prussia.

The Bebelplatz is known as the site of the infamous Nazi book burning ceremony held in the evening of May 10, 1933 by members of the SA, SS, Nazi students and Hitler Youth groups, on the instigation of Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels. The Nazis burned around 20,000 books, including works by Thomas Mann, Erich Maria Remarque, Heinrich Heine, Karl Marx and many other authors. Today a memorial by Micha Ullman consisting of a glass plate set into the cobbles, giving a view of empty bookcases, commemorates the book burning.

Why You Should Visit:
Must-see if you are interested in German History!
Beautiful historical buildings in the square, such as the Opera House, St. Hedwig's Cathedral, and Humboldt University.

Tip:
Good to visit at night (or on a late afternoon), since the shining light will help you see the memorial on the ground.
Don't forget to check out the Gendarmenmarkt behind, which is equally if not even more impressive!
Sight description based on wikipedia
7
St. Hedwig's Cathedral

7) St. Hedwig's Cathedral (must see)

St. Hedwig's Cathedral (German: Sankt-Hedwigs-Kathedrale) is a Roman Catholic cathedral on the Bebelplatz in Berlin, Germany. It is the seat of the Archbishop of Berlin. It was built in the 18th century as the first Catholic church in Prussia after the Protestant Reformation by permission of King Frederick II. The intention of Frederick was to offer the numerous Catholic immigrants that had arrived in Berlin, especially those from Upper Silesia, a place of worship. The church was therefore dedicated to the patron of Silesia and Brandenburg, Saint Hedwig of Andechs. The building was designed by Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff modeled after the Pantheon in Rome and construction started in 1747, interrupted and delayed several times due to economic reasons. It was not until November 1, 1773, when the king's friend, Ignacy Krasicki, then Bishop of Warmia (later Archbishop of Gniezno), officiated at the cathedral's opening in 1773.

Why You Should Visit:
With a huge dome and oculus, this is an unusually structured (and simple) Catholic cathedral.
The chapels contain some photogenic sculptures and the abstract geometric stained glass is rather nice.

Tip:
If you visit at 3pm on a Wednesday there is a 30 min organ recital. The acoustics are amazing!

Opening Hours:
Mon-Wed: 8am-2pm; Thu: 11:30am-5:30pm; Free entry
Sight description based on wikipedia
8
Berliner Dom

8) Berliner Dom (must see)

The Berlin Cathedral – or Dom – had never been a cathedral in the actual sense of that term, since Berlin, let alone this Cathedral, had never been the seat of a Catholic bishop. On 6 September 1750, the new baroque Calvinist Supreme Parish Church was inaugurated, built by Johann Boumann the Elder in 1747-1750. After dismantling the movable interior, Boumann's building was exploded in 1893 and Julius and Otto Raschdorff, father and son, built the present Supreme Parish and Cathedral Church in exuberant forms of high Neo-Renaissance style. With no separation of Protestant church and state of Prussia, William II officiated as the summus episcopus and the state paid the complete construction cost of 11,5 million Marks. At 114 meters long, 73 meters wide and 116 meters tall, it was much larger than any of the previous buildings and was considered a Protestant counterweight to St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City. On February 27, 1905, the present building was inaugurated.

Why You Should Visit:
The view from the dome is great and worth the steps – little bit narrow at times but there are banisters on all of them.
In between, there is the awe-inspiring interior with a magnificent organ, spectacular acoustics, precious works of art and a sublime atmosphere.

Tip:
Take the audio guide – for a few euros you get a lot of interesting information (alternately, get a printed guide for just a few cents).
Slowly visit all the Cathedral's halls in accordance with the signs and be sure to climb to the roof terrace and go down into the crypt.
In the winter, go around 3pm to get the best of both daylight and dusk; the lights on all of the landmarks and markets are absolutely beautiful.
In the summer, there is a large open lawn with a fountain across the street that would be great for a picnic.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Sat: 9am-8pm; Sun: 12-8pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
9
Deutsches Historisches Museum

9) Deutsches Historisches Museum (must see)

The Deutsches Historisches Museum (English: German Historical Museum) gives visitors an insight into the many events and upheavals in the history of Germany. It takes them on a journey through the country's history over the last 2000 years.

The DHM is housed in two buildings. The older building was the Prussian arsenal constructed between 1695 and 1730. It is one of the oldest surviving structures in Berlin. Many of the permanent exhibits of the museum are displayed here and the building also houses a theater where historic and modern German and international films are screened. The modern annex was designed by the Chinese American architect, I.M. Pei. It houses temporary exhibitions with a historical theme.

Notable exhibits at the DHM are a large globe that was once a part of the Nazi foreign office with bullet holes where Germany is located. There is also a sculpture by artist Andreas Schluter in baroque style depicted dying soldiers and making a statement against war in the courtyard. The modern wing hosts many unique temporary exhibitions including one called 'Hitler and the Germans' that portrayed the methods of propaganda used by the Nazis to gain power. The museum has leaflets and signs in English and other languages to help visitors understand the significance of each historical object on display.

Why You Should Visit:
Clearly worth a detour and several hours for those interested in detailed German and European history.
Very well organized & displayed, not overly centered on one particular time frame and fascinating in its collection of old portraiture.
All explanations of the exhibits are in German and English and meticulously laid out.

Tip:
Take a full day just for this museum, especially if you want to see the temporary exhibitions too!

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10am-6pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
10
Gendarmenmarkt

10) Gendarmenmarkt

The Gendarmenmarkt is a square in Berlin and the site of an architectural ensemble including the Konzerthaus (concert hall) and the French Dom and the Deutscher Dom. In the centre of the square stands a monumental statue of Germany's renowned poet Friedrich Schiller. The Konzerthaus Berlin is the most recent building on the Gendarmenmarkt. During World War II, most of the buildings were badly damaged or destroyed. Today all of them have been restored.
Sight description based on wikipedia
11
Deutscher Dom

11) Deutscher Dom (must see)

Deutscher Dom (English: German Cathedral) is the colloquial naming for the New Church (German: Neue Kirche) located in Berlin on the Gendarmenmarkt across from Französischer Dom (French Cathedral). In 1701-1708 Giovanni Simonetti built the first church after a design of Martin Grünberg. In 1780-1785 Georg Christian Unger modified the church and added the eastern domed tower after a design by Carl von Gontard. Christian Bernhard Rode created the statues, representing characters from the Old and New Covenant, which are added to the tower. The dome was topped by a statue symbolizing the victorious virtue. The New Church became famous as a place of Prussian history. In 1943 the New Church was terribly destroyed in the bombing of Berlin in WWII and was subsequently rebuilt from 1977 to 1988. Meanwhile, the German government acquired the building and the site. The church building was updated, deconsecrated and reopened in 1996 as the Bundestag's museum on German parliamentary history.

Why You Should Visit:
To go on a great whistle-stop tour of the history of Deutschland, that really puts both its successes and its failures into perspective.
The exhibition is in German, but the (free) audio guide (English/French/German) is very clear; there are tour guides if needed.
The building itself is interesting too and there is also information about this provided.

Tue-Sun: 10am-6pm; Free admission
Sight description based on wikipedia
12
Friedrichstrasse

12) Friedrichstrasse

The Friedrichstrasse (lit. Frederick Street) is a major culture and shopping street in central Berlin, forming the core of the Friedrichstadt neighborhood and giving the name to Berlin Friedrichstrasse station. This is the central Berlin's traditional shopping street. Friedrichstrasse was rebuilt in the 1990s, and at the time it was the city's largest construction project; work continues north of Friedrichstrasse station, a number of well-known architects contributing to the plans.
Sight description based on wikipedia
13
Checkpoint Charlie

13) Checkpoint Charlie (must see)

Checkpoint Charlie was one of the three crossing points from East to West Germany after the construction of the Berlin Wall. It later became one of the symbols of the Cold War and is a tourist attraction because of its immortalization by American movies and spy novels.

After completion of the Berlin Wall's construction, the Americans established three crossing points, A, B, and C. They were called Checkpoint Alpha, Bravo and Charlie by the NATO forces. Checkpoint Charlie became the only crossing point by 1962. It was the location where the documents of visitors and diplomats were checked by East Germans before issuing visas. It was also the venue of a standoff between America and the Soviet Union with their tanks facing each other on either side of the checkpoint when an American diplomat was refused a visa soon after the building of the wall.

Today, a replica of the original Checkpoint Charlie booth stands at the site with a, ‘You are now leaving the American Sector’, sign that once marked the border between East and West Germany. There is also a museum near the venue which is dedicated to freedom with exhibits relating to the many escape attempts over the Berlin Wall.

Why You Should Visit:
Bit of a tourist trap, but a good part of the city's history. The surrounding area is also steeped in history and you can walk around the streets to see the Berlin Wall and try the great local cafés.
Sight description based on wikipedia

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Taking Care of Your Feet


To ensure ultimate satisfaction from a day of walking around the city as big as Berlin, it is imperative to take good care of your feet so as to avoid unpleasant things like blisters, cold or overheated soles, itchy, irritated or otherwise damaged (cracked) skin, etc. Luckily, these days there is no shortage of remedies to address (and, ideally, to prevent) these and other potential problems with feet. Among them: Compression Socks, Rechargeable Battery-Powered Thermo Socks for Cold Weather, Foot Repair Cream, Deodorant Powder, Shoes UV Sterilizer, and many more that you may wish to find a place in your travel kit for.

Travel Gadgets for Your Mobile Device


Your mobile phone or tablet will be your work horse on a self-guided walk. They offer tour map, guide you from one attraction to another, and provide informative background for the sights you wish to visit. Therefore it is absolutely essential to plan against unexpected power outages in the wrong place at the wrong time, much as to ensure the safety of your device.

For these and other contingencies, here's the list of useful appliances: Portable Charger/External Battery Pack, Worldwide Travel Charger Adapter, Power Converter for International Travel Adapter, and Mobile Device Leash.