Thursday, September 1, 2016

A Summer Evening Stroll Through Berlin

I spent three days in Berlin, and I took an evening stroll through the city center a couple of those days.  I had the very good luck of some pleasant summer evenings there.   Bill Paulsen and I stayed at an inexpensive hotel next to the Hauptbahnhof, just across the Spree river from the Reichstag.  While the hotel was fine, if a little austere, it was primarily for kids; mostly very middle class German backpacker kids and a few budget conscious older foreigners (like us).  We saw very few people there over 30, including the staff.  So, in the evenings, I would go out and walk.
The following is put together out of both of those walks.

These are all my photos, except for some historical pictures.  They are freely available especially to educators.

The big lawn in front of the Reichstag at sunset.

The old Reichstag in the setting sun.

"To the German People," an inscription that outraged the very anti-democratic Kaiser Wilhelm II.

More of the Reichstag in the evening sunlight.

Norman Foster's famous glass dome replacing the once celebrated (and long destroyed) glass skylight of the Reichstag.

The Fernsehturm, the TV tower built by the DDR, the old East Germany, in 1965 - 69.  It's known by a variety of nicknames such as The Toothpick, Telespargel (TV asparagus), and the Alex Tower because it stands in the middle of the old Alexanderplatz.
You can see here clearly the famous cross made by the sun striking the glass tiles on the tower; an effect locally known as "The Pope's Revenge."

The Siegesäule (Victory Column) built to commemorate three major German victories in the 19th century, the victory of Prussia over Denmark in 1864, the victory of Prussia over Austria in 1866, and the German victory over France in 1871.  The monument was completed in 1873.
It was originally located in front of the Reichstag.  Hitler moved it to its present location in the middle of Tiergarten Park to make room for his colossal and mercifully unbuilt Volkshalle (Berlin Dome).

Mosaics designed by Anton von Werner

Captured canon on the Siegesäule.
Forgive me, but I find the Siegesäule to be just a little vulgar.

Heavily gilded Victory on top of her column.  During the Weimar Republic, she was known as the cheapest date in Berlin because you could climb her for only a few pfennigs.

Otto von Bismarck on the Siegesäule

The very beautiful and heavily forested Tiergarten Park.  I walked a path through the woods from the Siegesäule to the Soviet War Memorial instead of the main road.

A view through the trees to the Schloss Bellevue, the official residence of the German President.

The Soviet War Memorial in Tiergarten Park

A Soviet tank by the War Memorial.

Kids reading their devices on the steps of the Soviet War Memorial.  Berlin was full of kids.  Most of them were like these; middle class university students.

The Brandenburg Gate from the Soviet War Memorial

The Brandenburg Gate from the west; the view of it I always saw on TV and in print, only without the wall and barbed wire, and now with foot traffic passing through it.

The Siegesäule from the Brandenburg Gate

The Brandenburg Gate from the east; the tourists were all on this side of it.  This child of the Cold War is still gob-smacked that people can now just walk through the Gate like it's just another gate.

Gottfried Schadow's Quadriga on top of the Brandenburg Gate lightly gilded by the setting sun.

People just walk through the Gate now like there was never any kind of wall there.

The Neue Wache; built in 1818 to be a guardhouse for the nearby Stadtschloss; Karl Friedrich Schinkel's first major design in Berlin.  It now functions as a memorial for the civilian dead of the World Wars after serving as a military memorial for decades.

Eduard Gaertner's painting of the Neue Wache and Unter den Linden at twilight.  I thought of this painting as I walked past the Neue Wache in very similar light.  Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

The very controversial rebuilding of the Stadtschloss, the city palace of the Prussian Kings and the German Emperors.

The Stadtschloss in the 1920s.  The Allied bombers burned it down with incendiary bombs and the Soviets demolished what remained in the 1950s.  Photo from Wikipedia.

The partially restored Protestant Cathedral.

A postcard from about 1900 showing the Dom, the Protestant Cathedral on the left and the Stadtschloss on the right.  Photo from Wikipedia.

The partially restored Dom or Cathedral.  Kaiser Wilhelm II had this built in the 1890s to be a Protestant rival to Saint Peter's in Rome, replacing an earlier and more modest Neo-Classical church from the 18th century.
Allied bombing in World War II heavily damaged the cathedral.  The Soviets left it vacant and made no attempt to repair or restore it other than to add a temporary roof where the dome had been.  The DDR made a belated effort to restore it.  The East German government rebuilt the dome, though they did not restore the original spires.  West Germany paid for the restoration of the interior.

The Dom in its original state in a postcard from around 1900 from Wikipedia

The Dom in the 1940s with Soviet soldiers.  Photo from Wikimedia.

The Altes Museum built from 1823 to 1830, the masterpiece of the architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel.

A postcard of the Altes Museum from about 1900 showing the now lost murals by Peter von Cornelius on the facade behind the columns.  Photo from Wikimedia
You can also see how much the Lustgarten in front of it has changed.  The big bronze statue of Kaiser Wilhelm I is very much gone and replaced by a fountain.  Also, today there is more grass and less stone pavement.

The Ionic columns of the Altes Museum with patches from war damage.

The view out onto the Lustgarten from the entrance of the Altes Museum.

The same view from 1895.  Photo from Wikipedia

The Granite Bowl, commissioned by King Friedrich Wilhelm III and installed in its present location in 1834.  It is carved from a single granite boulder.

Johann Erdmann Hummel, The Granite Bowl, 1831; reproduction from here.

The Französicher Dom, the French Cathedral, a church built by Frederick the Great in the 18th century for exiled French Protestants living in Berlin.

The American Embassy

The Holocaust Memorial, officially known as the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, designed by Peter Eisenmann and completed in 2004.  Grave sized concrete monoliths (7 feet by 3 feet) of varying heights (some flush with the pavement, others over 10 feet high) cover a huge area in a center-less grid just a block from the Brandenburg gate, across the street from the American Embassy, and right next to the site of the Reich Chancellery on the opposite side.

View towards the site of the Reich Chancellery.

Albert Speer's Reich Chancellery in 1939, the entrance on the Vossstrasse a block from the site of the Holocaust Memorial.

The name of the street on the south side of the Memorial.

Potsdamer Platz

Potsdamer Platz in 1929 with the once famous and now long gone Haus Vaterlands restaurant all lit up on the right.

The sprawling lawn in front of the Reichstag and next to the government ministries at twilight.

The Reichstag at nightfall.

Full moon from the Reichstag

A huge ministry building next to the Reichstag, the Paul Löbe Building.
While the designs of these government buildings (and also some very large corporate buildings around town) went out of their way to avoid anything that smacked of imperial militarism, they were in their own way very triumphalist.  The Bundesrepublik Deutschland (the Businessman State as Günter Grass called it) is back and it's the biggest and most successful economy in Europe.  This particular building was almost as vast as the Pentagon, though a lot less brutal looking.  Even so, it made the old Neo-Classical buildings of Schinkel and Klenze look intimate by comparison.

The New Federal Chancellery where Angela Merkel has her office.

The Spree river near the ministry buildings and across from the brand new Hauptbahnhof where our hotel was.  A big crowd enjoys beer and a summer evening on the river.

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