Museum Island Tour, Berlin (Self Guided)

"Museum Island" takes up the northern part of the Spree Island, Berlin. Established by order of King Frederick William IV of Prussia in 1841, the complex includes several world famous museums; hence the name. One of the most visited places in Berlin, Museum Island is a definite must-see. Follow this guide to the Island's main attractions.
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Museum Island Tour Map

Guide Name: Museum Island Tour
Guide Location: Germany » Berlin (See other walking tours in Berlin)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 7
Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.2 km
Author: derek
1
Bode-Museum

1) Bode-Museum (must see)

The Bode Museum is part of a group of five world-renowned museums that form Museum Island on the River Spree in Berlin. It was the fourth of the buildings constructed on the island and was completed in 1904.

The elaborate Baroque building housing the Bode Museum was designed by architect Ernst von Ihne and opened its doors as the Kaiser Freidrich Museum. It was renamed in honor of historian and best-known curator of the museum, Wilhelm von Bode in 1956. It was intended as a museum of Renaissance art and has a vast collection of Byzantine exhibits. All five buildings on Museum Island have been declared as part of the World Heritage Site by the UNESCO.

The Bode Museum has collections divided among three themes: sculpture, the coin cabinet with coins and medals and Byzantine art. The sculpture collection has exhibits from the middle ages to the 18th century including glazed terracotta figures of the Italian Renaissance period and the late Gothic school in Germany. The Byzantine art section has over 150 works from the 3rd to the 15th centuries and the coin cabinet has a valuable collection of Byzantine coins and medals. There is also an interesting section showing iconic art from the Orthodox Christian churches of Greece, the Balkans, Russia and North Africa. The Museum has a café and gift shop on the first floor with a view of the magnificent baroque styled lobby.

Why You Should Visit:
Certainly one of the largest collections of ancient sculpture in the world, if not the largest (mainly of Italian & German origin).
Furthermore, the Münzkabinett might be the world's most important numismatic collection, with over half a million objects.
The building itself is beautiful with a majestic double-dome structure, while the interior is palatial and very impressive.

Tip:
Get the 3-day Museum Pass: pays for itself, and quickens the experience for the other museums on the island.

Opening Hours:
Tue-Wed, Fri-Sun: 10am-6pm; Thu: 10am-8pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
2
Pergamonmuseum

2) Pergamonmuseum (must see)

The Pergamon Museum is situated on the Museum Island in Berlin. The site was designed by Alfred Messel and Ludwig Hoffmann and was constructed in twenty years, from 1910 to 1930. The Pergamon houses original-sized, reconstructed monumental buildings such as the Pergamon Altar, the Market Gate of Miletus, all consisting of parts transported from Turkey. The museum is subdivided into the antiquity collection, the Middle East museum, and the museum of Islamic art. Besides Islamic artwork from the 8th to the 19th century ranging from Spain to India, the main attraction is the Mshatta facade, which originates from an unfinished early Islamic desert palace located south of Amman in present-day Jordan. It was a gift from the Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid II to Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany. The Middle East Museum exhibition displays objects, found by German archeologists and others, from the areas of Assyrian, Sumerian and Babylonian culture.

Why You Should Visit:
Highly rated museum, and for good reason, as it is one of the very few where you can see arches and actual parts of ancient civilizations.
The several 30+ meter reconstructions, including the famous blue-glazed gate from Ancient Babylon, are just impressive.

Tip:
Buy tickets online – if you come during your designated time slot, you will not have to wait in line.
Free rental of audio guides in your native language to guide you through all the pieces inside.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Wed, Fri-Sun: 10am-6pm; Thu: 10am-8pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
3
Neues Museum

3) Neues Museum (must see)

The Neues Museum ("New Museum") is a museum in Berlin located to the north of the Altes Museum (Old Museum) on Museum Island. It was built between 1843 and 1855 according to plans by Friedrich August Stüler, a student of Karl Friedrich Schinkel. Exhibits include the Egyptian and Prehistory and Early History collections, as it did before the war. The artifacts it houses include the iconic bust of the Egyptian queen Nefertiti.

Both as a part of the Museum Island complex and as an individual building, the museum testifies to the neoclassical architecture of museums in the 19th century. Moreover, the Neues Museum is an important monument in the history of construction and technology. With its various iron constructions, it is the first monumental building of Prussia to consistently apply new techniques made possible by industrialization. This includes the Neues Museum as an important part of the historical architectural context of the Museum Island.

Why You Should Visit:
An overwhelming amount of objects from ancient history, beautifully displayed in an amazing building.
Very nice Egyptian collection, but if interested in some lesser known cultures, you'll enjoy some of the pieces from early Europe as well.
Nefertiti and Akhenaten (both on the 2nd floor) are the absolute biggest highlights, of course.

Tip:
Go as early as you can to avoid long queues of tourists and buy a Berlin Card or a three-day museum pass, as there is much to see.
Audio guides are included in the price and essential in a museum like this, so don't forget to pick one up at the entrance foyer!

Opening Hours:
Fri-Wed: 10am-6pm; Thu: 10am-8pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
4
Altes Museum

4) Altes Museum (must see)

The Altes Museum (German for "Old Museum"), is one of several internationally renowned museums on Berlin's Museum Island in Berlin. Since restoration work in 1966, it houses the antique collection (Antikensammlung) of the Berlin State Museums. The museum was built between 1823 and 1830 by the architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel in the neoclassical style to house the Prussian Royal family's art collection. Until 1845, it was called the Royal Museum.

The building uses the Greek Stoa in Athens as a model. The body of the building is raised on a plinth, giving the building a greater stature as well as preventing the risk of damage to the artwork from damp or flooding, for which the island was renowned. The original dome was an exact hemisphere, modeled on the Roman Pantheon. The Altes Museum opened in 1830 to the public. After restoration in 1966, during which the dome was rebuilt to form a half ellipse, it re-opened as a museum displaying ancient Greek and Roman artifacts.

Why You Should Visit:
If you're into Greek, Roman and Etruscan antiquities, this is the best Berlin museum to see.
The building itself is stunning and is in a great location with lots of people gathering on the front lawn to chill out.

Tip:
Free entrance if you buy the 1-day/3-day museum card or the Berlin Pass.

Opening Hours:
Tue-Wed, Fri-Sun: 10am-6pm; Thu: 10am-8pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
5
Alte Nationalgalerie

5) Alte Nationalgalerie (must see)

The Alte Nationalgalerie (Old National Gallery) in Berlin is a gallery showing a collection of Classical, Romantic, Biedermeier, Impressionist, and early Modernist artwork, all of which belong to the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. The museum is situated on Museum Island, a UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site. The building was first opened on March 22, 1876, in the presence of the Kaiser. The exterior and outer staircase were constructed from Nebra sandstone.

The collection contains works from Classicism and Romanticism (by artists such as Caspar David Friedrich, Karl Friedrich Schinkel, and Karl Blechen), of the Biedermeier, the French Impressionism (Édouard Manet, Claude Monet) and early modern works (Adolph von Menzel, Max Liebermann, Lovis Corinth). Among the most important exhibits are Friedrich's Mönch am Meer, Menzel's Eisenwalzwerk and sculptor Johann Gottfried Schadow's Prinzessinnengruppe, a double statue of princesses Louise and Friederike of Prussia.

Why You Should Visit:
Rich collection of German artists and a big room with French impressionists (on the ground floor).
Good navigation and very nice space – open & you can get very close to the artwork.

Tip:
Though the entry fee is reasonable, it is suggested that you get a 3-day pass which allows access to all five museums on Museum Island.
Be sure to use the free headsets and you'll learn a great deal about German painting.

Operation Hours:
Tue-Wed, Fri-Sun: 10am-6pm; Thu: 10am-8pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
6
DDR Museum

6) DDR Museum

This small interactive museum gives a realistic picture of life in the former German Democratic Republic or East Germany. It gives an insight of the culture of a people living in a strictly communist state and also has a sense of nostalgia for a lifestyle that has disappeared forever.

The DDR museum is located in the former government district of the German Democratic Republic on the banks of the River Spree. It lies opposite the Berlin Cathedral. The director, Dr. Stephan Wolle created the museum to preserve the culture of 40 years of German communism in an objective manner to remove all stereotypes and cliches in the minds of visitors. Exhibits are arranged in an interesting and authentic manner with the aim of presenting facts in an objective way and personal experiences in a subjective manner.

The permanent exhibition is divided into 16 areas of communist life in East Germany. Interesting collections are those relating to housing, work, leisure, fashion and culture. It gives visitors the real time experienced of being constantly watched by the infamous secret police of East Germany called the Stasi, life in the typical prefabricated communist houses called the Plattenbau and the experience of driving the small car developed in the GDR called the Trabant. The museum is one of the 11 most visited in Berlin.

Operation hours: Monday - Friday, Sunday: 10:00 am - 8:00 pm; Saturday: 10:00 am - 10:00 pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
7
Berliner Dom

7) 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

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