I had an opportunity to travel to Berlin for the first time 4 days right before I moved to Italy in May 2000 (and again in November 2003). After seeing it, I felt ashamed that I'd been in Germany for 2 years and hadn't seen it before. The first thing that struck me was that it was one of the most modern and cosmopolitan cities I had ever seen. Berlin is one of the only cities in the world where you can actually see the city grow around you. It was hard to believe that the infamous Wall had only been gone 10 years at that point, as the city was in a constant state of construction and modernization. If you haven't been to Berlin in the last couple years, you probably wouldn't recognize it. Indeed, I had the feeling that I could return a week later and it wouldn't look the same. The one thought that kept occurring to me as I walked around and saw all the elderly people going about their everyday lives was this; can you even imagine the history that these people must have witnessed in their lifetimes? It's one of those things that makes traveling so interesting. Berlin also had, for my money, the best nightlife in all of Europe. It's a city crammed full of history, culture, arts, and anything else you could want. With that in mind, it's my opinion that Berlin has reclaimed its spot as one of the world's great cities - Rome, Paris, London, New York, Tokyo...and Berlin.
Click on picture to enlarge...
The view from the restaurant at the top of the Fernsehturm:
The Berliner Dom:
The view from the Victory Column looking down Unter Den Linden:
The view from Unter Den Linden east:
The Chancellor's Residence:
One of the main plazas where Hitler held his book-burnings:
Looking down Unter Den Linden at the Brandenburg Gate:
A must-see is the Checkpoint Charlie museum. You can follow the history of the Berlin Wall and its effect on the city over the years right up until the present day. There are great photos and descriptions of many of the escape attempts - some successful, some unsuccessful, but all of them ingenious.
Some of the escape attempts:
What's left of the infamous Berlin Wall: