With over 170 museums and galleries Berlin welcomes millions of visitors each year to its vast collections. On offer are unmissable artefacts such as the Pergamon's treasures of antiquity at the Museum Island, contemporary art and modernist classics such as the Bauhaus building.
Daniel Libeskind's Jewish Museum, built after reunification, is one of the memorable highlights of the New Berlin. From Nefertiti's bust to a speck of the Wall at Checkpoint Charlie, Berlin's museums bring its unique character and history to life.
German Historical Museum
The Unter Der Linden's oldest building, the Zeughaus (Old Arsenal Building), is open for business once more after lengthy refurbishments. Good news then for European history fanatics, who can once more delve into the realms of the past and uncover the sometimes turbulent, and always fascinating, events that have helped shape this great continent. Every era, from the Thirty Years War to the Weimar Republic, is brought to life with the help of ancient exhibits and contemporary multi-media displays.
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Arguably Berlin's most famous vault, the Pergamon is one of many looming attractions to be found on Museuminsel (Museum Island). It's famous for its enviable archaelogical collections, in particular the impressive triumvirate of the Market Gate of Miletus, the Ishtar Gate and the Pergamon Altar. The latter is decorated with a legendary (amongst classics geeks at least) frieze, depicting the orginal rumble in the jungle - the Gods vs. the Titans. Also to be found in the Pergamon, in the southern wing, is the interesting 'Museum of Islamic Art'.
House of Checkpoint Charlie
If you are at all interested in the background of Berlin's least favourite architectural addition, then the House of Checkpoint Charlie should be your first port of call. The museum, based on what was the Western side, was established in 1962 - a year after the wall went up. Apart from charting the wall's history the establishment aided many of those who managed to defect, giving them support and, in many cases, employment on the premises. As such it has exclusive access to many fascinating escape stories, and not just about the wall - it rather randomly houses Mahatma Gandhi's diary! The name Checkpoint Charlie comes from the most famous of the guarded checkpoints which acted as crossing between East and West.
Natural History Museum
As a child the impact of seeing a hulking brachiosaurus skeleton filling the entire lobby of a Natural History Museum is impossible to beat. Simply awesome! Treat your little ones to day out they won't forget by visiting Berlin's very own Natural History Museum (Museum fuer Naturkunde) in Mitte. As well as the aforementioned vegetarian brute, there's plenty more 'extinctiorsauri' to check out, including the rather impressive remains of a giant armadillo. Throw in some 20th century dioramas, a plethora of fossils and Europe's third largest collections of meteorites and it's safe to say that Palaeontology hasn't been this sexy since Friends went off air.
Old National Gallery
You could be forgiven for assuming that the Old National Gallery (Alte Nationalgalerie) would be a stuffy and sleepy kind of place, but that is resolutely not so. A host of temporary exhibitions keep the content fresh and interesting, and the imaginative approach taken (a recent exhibit was "Genius and Madness in Art", for example) helps keep everything relevant to modern times. If you're a bit more conservative and would rather limit yourself to uncomplicated viewing of classic paintings than have no fear: Monet, Manet, Renoir, Degas, and Cézanne (to name but a few) are all here waiting.
Originally completed in 1663 the Kronprinzenpalais, or Crown Prince’s Palace, has seen its fair share of history. Having stood in all its baroque glory for two centuries the Palace was rebuilt in the 19th century by King Fredrich Wilhelm in order to house his newborn son Prince Wilhelm II. During the inter-war period, the building assumed the role of National Gallery and housed some of the world’s most prestigious works and was visited regularly by none other than Albert Einstein. Wartime bombings meant that the whole palace underwent complete rebuilding in 1968/69 and, during the era of Germany divided, the Palace was used to welcome foreign dignitaries. The Palace also played host to the signing of the German reunification agreement on 31st August, 1990. Today the building hosts some of Germany’s most important exibitions.
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