Metropolis revival - Berlin (Part II)
Berlin, a thriving metropolis now in 21st century, after almost a decade’s evolvement which now giving a whole new face to the world, a dynamic and multicultural capital city in Germany, with rich culture, art, vitality, and of course, style. Carrying on from my previous blog post, I am delighted to continue my explore in this incredible German city, sharing with your all my dear readers of things that I have seen, and perhaps in a way, that inspires you to plan for your upcoming trip there (if you are going to).
Back in months ago, I came across a video clip by DW which they were featuring the beautiful Museum Island (‘Museuminsel’ in German), I was instantly attracted by it with its picture-perfect view, a small island that situated on the Spree River, also as a UNESCO World Heritage Site with a couple of prestigious museums that exhibited some of the world most valuable and precious master art pieces (from European to foreign / exotic arts), sculptures, and even the architecture of the museums themselves, all these aspects have made the island itself as a piece of master art already, given with the chance that I am visiting, of course, I have included this into my itinerary to make sure that I shall see this in person. Just as how I imagine, spending the sunny morning in the Museum Island is such a light-hearted experience (and don’t forget to take a picture from the bridge to the Bode Museum, that literally looks like a postcard!), especially my slightly early arrival to the Bode Museum which enables me some time to explore the island around, and, the Antique and Books Flea market just less than 5 mins walk away from the museum.
If you are into European ancient art, especially from Renaissance to late Baroque of Prussia and Germany, Bode Museum should be a place that one should visit, with its spectacular architecture which completed in 1904 by architect Ernst von Ihne, this museum can possibly be one of the ‘crown jewel’ of the Museum Island, upon entering the main lobby and look up to the beautiful Neo-classical style interior, it is absolutely stunning, grandiose but not flashy, classic but not old-fashioned. The equestrian statue of Great Elector of Berlin, Andreas Schlüter, situated in the middle of the grand lobby, exudes the imperial grandeur and glory, feels like that it’s right there to welcome the art connoisseurs and visitors from around the world. Having been heavily destroyed during WW2 and being restored and reopen to public since late 2006, this spectacular museum housed a broad range of European art collection even as far as the Byzantine time from 3rd to 15th century, from master paintings, sculptures, mosaics to coins and medals, witnesses the heydays of the thriving economy and affluent of the people who dedicated their artistic interest on creating art, and, celebrates the mythical thoughts they had in mind. Traveled through the 2-storey museum with over dozens of exhibition salons inside literally opens my eyes to visually experience more about the Renaissance and late Baroque art in Prussia then Germany, the evolvement and the delicate workmanship of each individual piece of art work. Of course, not to forget, is to take a little coffee break at the museum café on the 1st floor, in a way to let oneself to digest all the great art that have seen, at the same time, marveling the spectacular interior design of the museum, you will be amazed by the impeccable restoration work done by the craftsmen and the city, to bring back the old day glory that we can experience it now.
Departed from the Bode Museum, it’s time for a little souvenir shopping time, take advantage of the weekend Antique & Books Flea market nearby, dozens of stallers along the Am Kupfergraben which opens at around 11am (sat & sun) is a perfect place to walk around relaxingly, if one is interested with the memorabilia objects about Berlin in the past, from household décor to books, stamps to medals etc., it’s always a great find to look up something that’s one of the kind as a token of memory, in my experience, most of the things one’s can find might be during the GDR period (‘DDR’ in German), for those who are interested with the militaria from the Third Reich period (to WW2), it might be a bit disappointing, but one might occasionally find one of two objects in one of the staller (for sure stamps from that period can be found). Apart from that, what I am keen to find are the objects from the ‘Golden twenties’ of Berlin, the glamour and fluctuating period with the hyperinflation happening and the social unrest – the riots, protests and violence of the pre-dictatorship regime, I find it very fascinating and always imagine how life looks like back then, and take a look with what I have found!
After feeding your shopping bag, let’s walk around the island a little bit more, if your time allows, Pergammonmuseum could possibly be a great museum to visit, unfortunately with my fully planned itinerary I have to skip and instead, heading to the southern side of the Island, here is the beautiful plaza garden – the Lustgarten, the beautiful and spacious garden situated in front of both the Berliner Dom, another landmark of the city of Berlin, and, the Altes Museum, another prestigious museum showcases a wide range of national heritage collection too, the garden is renowned for family gathering, outdoor picnic and musician performance ground nowadays, but back in the late 1930s before WW2, this garden, in fact, is one of the prominent rally ground for the Third Reich on displaying their power and authority, once again, it’s relatively haunting and hard to image the sober and harshness of what was happening in this site back then, but as for now, it’s a pretty relaxing garden for people which enjoy a short break, surrounded themselves by the spectacular ancient architecture, and a vibe of Berlin modernity.
In fact there are so many other places that I would like to share with you all, in short, Berlin is one of the city that is rich in culture, no matter it’s from the golden twenties to the Third Reich period, from the traumatic WW2, to post-war recovery then entering Cold War with the Berlin Wall erected, and, the reunification in late 1980s, there are so many invisible scars in the city that keep reminding us (or at least to me) the struggle from the hardship and the lost of civilization, the willpower of people to fight for survival and liberation, and the commemoration about the lost and death, all these are pretty much buried deep under the ground, but to me, whenever I walked by each of these sites, from the former ‘death stripe’ on Potsdamer Platz and even at Checkpoint Charlie, the lines of the old Berlin Wall locates are just very vivid and real, which it evokes me about what we should be thankful and cherish of the peace and happiness that we have, being content and appreciate of what kindness that one offers us, and making effort of doing something nice and beautiful to make this world a better place to live, learn from the terror and trauma from the past, without letting it happen again at least from our own hands.
To all my dear readers, do share with me if you have any good recommendations about visiting Berlin, for sure I have a lot missed out / unlisted (as I would like to reduce the headache of reading a long paragraph), so share with us and let me know how do you like this city.
Danke vielmal, auf wiedersehen!