Berlin: history, places of interest and curiosities

The capital of Germany, Berlin, is a city that bears a burden of history like few others. All the events of the 20th century take place there.
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| 28/07/2020 | Last update:


Writing about the city of Berlin inevitably leads to a tour of the most important events in the history of the 20th century. Berlin lived the most transcendental events of 1900 in first person. Capital of the imperial Reich, after the First World War saw how the powerful empire disintegrated as a result of the Revolution of 1918. That revolution gave way to a period of great cultural and political splendour, the Weimar Republic, which had an unexpected and undesired outcome. The rise of Nazism to power in 1933 shook the history of Europe.

Manifestació anti-nazista a la ciutat de Berlín el 1932
Anti-Nazi demonstration in the city of Berlin in 1932

The defeat of Nazism during World War II led to the division of the country into two states: the Federal Republic of Germany (FGR) and the German Democratic Republic (DDR). The two German states became one of the central stages of the Cold War. And Berlin, as the capital of communist Germany, was the arena where all disputes were played out. The two world powers, the United States of America and the Soviet Union, were face to face on Berlin territory.

Berlin, the hottest stage of the Cold War

The city of Berlin was under a special regime during all the years of the Cold War. The city, as it had been with the country, was divided into 4 sectors. On the western side, France, the United Kingdom and the United States controlled a portion of the city in the hands of the capitalist West Germany. On the other hand, the Soviet Union controlled the eastern sector, which was the capital of communist Germany (GDR).

From 13 August 1961 to 9 November 1989 the city was divided into two sectors, East Berlin and West Berlin. Throughout this period the two sectors of the city were separated by a 155-kilometre wall, which actually surrounded West Berlin making it an island within the German Democratic Republic or GDR.

La Porta de Brandenburg envoltada pel mur de Berlín
The Brandenburg Gate surrounded by the Berlin Wall

The fall of the wall in 1989 meant much more than the reunification of the city. It led to the almost immediate reunification of the two German states, the Federal Republic and the GDR, and the fall, like a house of cards, of the communist regimes in the countries of Eastern Europe.

After the reunification of the two German states, Berlin once again became the capital of what is now the Federal Republic. Since then, the city has become a major cultural, economic and tourist centre.

A city rich in museums and cultural activities

Today, Berlin is a city with a wide range of cultural and leisure activities. On the so-called “Museum Island” (Museumsinse) you will find the most important museum structures in the city. Located in the central district of Mitte, this island formed in the river Spree, houses the headquarters of the museums:

  • Old Museum (Altes Museum). Collection of classical art.
  • New Museum (Neues Museum). Ancient Egyptian Art, Prehistory and History.
  • Pergamon Museum. It houses the main architectural wonders of antiquity.
  • Alte Nationalgalerie (Ancient National Gallery). Collection of 19th century art.
  • Bode Museum. Museum of sculpture from various artistic periods.
  • James Simon Gallery.

Places of interest:

Place Type Year of foundation
Fernsehturm BerlinPublic building1969
Berlin WallPublic building1961
Branderburg GatePublic building1788