And where to close the year and begin the new, than in a fascinating world city such as London, Paris, New York. Hong Kong, Sydney and of course, our very own Berlin.
New Year’s Eve on the long strip of Tiergarten is the largest party in Europe, bringing in more than a million visitors from around the world each year, compared to roughly 250,000 people in central London, and 340,000 at the Eiffel Tower in Paris!
Yep! Berlin – the place to be!
Last week, I put up an excellent give-away prize of 2 Berlin WelcomeCard packages to be validated by December 31st, 2015, at the latest.
It seems that most of you have either already been to Berlin or are coming sometime next year!
In that wise, I’m rolling it over, so the FIRST person to subscribe to my blog – The British Berliner – AND tell me why you would like to win the tickets on my post here, BEFORE December 31st, wins!
Hurry! There are only four (4) days to the end of this year as I’d be sorry to have to use it myself lol!
Here’s the info:
The Berlin Welcome Card package will include transport tickets for 48 hours including the city of Potsdam, 200 discounts, inside tips, information on top attractions, a city map, a mini guide-book written in English, German, Italian and Spanish, a €5.00 discount for the TV Tower restaurant or bar and a free voucher for a glass of glühwein (mulled wine) at the Christmas Market on Alexanderplatz valid until January 3rd, 2016!
Perfect for the New Year celebration in Berlin!
Only comments attached to this post will be considered.
You have until midnight on December 30th and the announcement will be made on the blog on January 4th. The winners will meet me personally and receive the tickets at the front of Brandenburger Tor (Brandenburg Gate) on December 31st at 12 noon!
At the end of last week’s post, I told you that there are a few museums and galleries that I would like to recommend and that Berlin has so many great places that I would do them injustice if I didn’t write about them properly, so I’m writing this piece about my new favourite museums since it’s winter.
You’re having a laugh, as we haven’t seen a single snowflake since November!
Even though I’ve written about museums before, this post wasn’t easy to write, as there are just so many things to do and places to go, so without much ado, watch and learn about a few more!
SIX (6) QUIRKY GALLERIES & MUSEUMS
Did you that Berlin has more museums than rainy days since we have more than 180 museums and only 106.3 rainy days on average per year?
Did you know that Berlin is one of the few cities to have three (3) UNESCO World Heritage sites and that most of them are in fact, royal palaces and garden turned into museums?
Did you know that the East-Side Gallery also known as The Berlin Wall, is the longest open-air gallery in the world and is 1,316 metres long? Not only that, but it was painted in 1990 by 118 artists from 21 countries and has 106 individual works of art!
Did you know that in addition to its world-renowned museum collections, Berlin is also home to some rather unusual museums such as the Gas Lamp Museum (I wrote about this last week), the Medical History Museum, the Sugar Museum, the “Museum der unerhörten Dinge” or the Museum of Extraordinary Things, the Buchstabenmuseum or the Museum of Letters, the Computerspielemuseum or Museum of Computer Games (really, really good!) and the Hemp Museum?!!!!
Is it any wonder that this post is tribute to just some of Berlin’s finest museums and art galleries? Let’s do it!
THE STORY OF BERLIN
I hadn’t been here for years but let me tell you, if you’re new in town, this is a museum you simply must visit. THE STORY OF BERLIN is what it says on the tin and is a multi-media museum with loads of rooms to run through, plenty of things to touch and if, like me, you like history, dozens of things to learn.
You get to experience and view 800 years of Berlin’s history through the centuries, the people in the Middle Ages, the wealth, the wars and in a sense, the history of Germany through sound effects, touch screens, models, drawers, pulleys and levers that you can push and pull, and of course, films and recordings.
There is no doubt that you’ll get to see 17th – 19th century Berlin, the world wars, Berlin and National Socialism also known as Nazism, the Berlin Wall, East and West Germany and of course, liberal tolerant Berlin today.
There is also a fully functioning nuclear bomb shelter from the Cold War and you get an extra guided tour included in the price of your ticket as well as a free chips / fries, if you buy a portion of curry wurst from one of the most famous sausage stalls in Berlin – Curry 36 which you can use in either Kreuzberg or Charlottenburg.
My favourite bit was the Steel, Light, Machine Rhythm bit, the Birth of a Metropolis and Berlin in the Golden 20’s and the era of art and film. Go see for yourself here.
Price: Adults €12.00. Children between 6-16 – €5.00. Students €9.00
Highly recommended for all the family.
THE GERMAN SPY MUSEUM BERLIN
This museum is brand new and was only opened on September 19th, 2015!
It’s not difficult to find as it’s at Potsdamer Platz right opposite The Mall of Berlin and I wrote about this region last week!
The museum is a unique interactive, multi-media museum that is all about the history of espionage and secret services all around the world. Yes, it reveals the secrets of spying from as far back as from ancient Egyptian history which is still being used today, the spying activities behind the Iron Curtain of the Cold War, and also how to take part in infra-ray laser activity, quizzes and other interactive games which include smell, sound, sight, touch and full body participation!
If you’ve always wanted to be James Bond, now’s your chance!
I went there a few weeks ago, as part of an after-hours Travel Massive bloggers event and I was so impressed that I’m going to take “The Tall Young Gentleman” there too!
My favourite bit was the infra-ray game and the bizarre and sneaky methods of agents and secret services. Go see for yourself here.
Price: Adults €12.00. Children under 6: €0.00. Other children & students €8.00. Families (2 adults and their children) €35.00.
Highly recommended for teenaged boys and all the family!
THE CURRYWURST MUSEUM
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, you can’t dare to even visit Berlin without at least attempting it’s most famous snack and dish – drum roll pleeeeeeease!
That delicious beef or pork sausage grilled and chopped up, then smothered with a spicy ketchup and curry powder, eaten with a pile of chips and a slice of bread or a bun!
The Deutsches Currywurst Museum Berlin is an interactive museum dedicated to the love and history of Berlin’s most famous German curried sausage!
You can wander through all the rooms and experience the installations which you can explore through visual, text and audio form. You can learn how currywurst is made, smell it, sit on it, touch it, watch a film about it, attempt to sell it, and play around with the french fries and chips. You can even have chocolate and curry sausage ice-cream!
My favourite bit was “selling” sausages at the stall, the interactive games and the history of currywurst itself. Go see for yourself here.
Price: Adults €11.00. Children between 6-13 – €7.00. Students €8.50. Under 6 free of charge. Families (2 adults and children under 13) €29.00. On MuseumMonday all visitors get a 20 % discount unless your ticket is already discounted!
Highly recommended for all the family.
THE JEWISH MUSEUM
This museum is not exactly quirky but it is one of my favourite museums, and in a sense, interesting and fun to visit!
The Jewish Museum Berlin is one of Europe’s leading museums and is not only a learning tool but a vibrant interactive center of reflection and understanding of Jewish history and culture, as well as migration and diversity in Germany of three (3) major world religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
The exhibition starts by going to the basement where there are enormous empty spaces that cut through the entire museum filled with either silence, or 10,000 open-mouthed faces coarsely cut from heavy, circular iron grids covering the floor – in memory of all innocent victims of war and violence.
You then move from floor to floor where there are many exhibitions that you can read, touch, sit on, feel, and see, that show fourteen (14) historical periods of time, right from the Middle Ages to the present day. Each period displays a vivid portrait of Jewish life in Germany via art, everyday objects, photos, letters, films, music and interactive displays that exhibit the history of Jewish culture, and show how tightly Jewish life and German history are interwoven, and connected.
My favourite bit was, because I’m a history nerd, the Jewish Medieval Quarter from 1500 – 1800, Jewish bourgeois lifestyle and the German – Jewish exhibitions from 1800-1914. There is also a permanent exhibition depicting Two Millennia of German Jewish History and a special exhibition of Adolph Menzel – a German artist known for drawings, etchings, and paintings of the 19th century. Of course, you can’t go to a museum in Germany, without learning about the horrors of National Socialism and the story of many families such as those of Anna Frank, Nazism and Hitler, that put an end to the shared history of German-Jewish people in Germany. Go see for yourself here.
Price: Adults €8.00. Children – €3.00. Students €3.00. Under 6 free of charge. Families (2 adults and up to 4 children) €14.00! Reduced admission with a ticket for the Berlinische Galerie on the day of purchase and the two following days.
Highly recommended for everyone.
THE BERLINISCHE GALERIE
Contrary to what you might think, the Berlinische Galerie is not actually a gallery but a museum of modern art, photography and architecture! It’s in Kreuzberg and is only a few paces away from The Jewish Museum which is why there’s a reduction on tickets if you go to both of them.
I don’t mind if I do lol!
I always say that given a choice I tend to favour older master pieces and works of art, but funnily enough I seem to be quite into Modern Art too!
Anyhoo. I find art of landscapes and street scenes quite soothing. Perhaps it’s because of the watercolours and oils rather than black and white photos.
Then again, I like photographs too, so perhaps not!
The exhibitions are displayed on two floors with media, video and a quirky film about architecture and the environment.
There was also a portrait photography exhibition of documentary pictures taken on the street and in the studio as well as a presentation from a collection of paintings ranging from the late 19th century, to expressionist art, East European avant-garde and post-war modern architecture and impressionist history.
Berlin has always been a hub of creativity, attracting young international artists, now more than ever before, as well as creatives in music, film and art, and the Berlinische Galerie didn’t disappoint with its’ collections of paintings, prints, sculpture, photography and architecture.
However, the cat’s whiskers was the Max Beckmann and Berlin exhibition (until 15.02.16) which documents and displays works of art on the lively, diverse art scene in Berlin from the 1910’s, 1920’s and early 1930’s.
I thoroughly enjoyed the working class milieu as well as the then avant-garde street art! Go see for yourself here.
Price: Adults €10.00. Children under 18 free of charge. Students €7.00. Every first Monday of the month €6.00. Reduced admission with a ticket for the Jewish Museum within three days.
Highly recommended for artists and lovers of Berlin art history and architecture.
THE MÄRKISCHES MUSEUM
This museum turned out to be quite a surprise. In order to get there you have to go to an underground station called Märkisches Museum U-Bahn. Follow the signs outside for a little while and they will lead you to an actual museum called the Märkisches Museum.
I used to think that the museum was named after the station. But it isn’t, it’s the other way around and in fact, it used to be the museum of Berlin. It’s a little bit hidden, but well worth it.
The Märkisches Museum was founded in 1874 and is the HQ for the City of Berlin museum foundation, which also operates four other museums namely: the Nikolaikirche (which I wrote about last week,) the Ephraim-Palais (which I’m going to visit in 2016), the Knoblauchhaus (which I visited in 2014) and the Museumsdorf Düppel!
I’m a freak. I spent a couple of hours there and I still left it unfinished halfway through!
The Märkisches Museum is a lovely old red brick building and a walk through the museum is a walk through the history of Berlin starting from the Stone Ages. It’s an interactive museum where you can hear, feel, make, touch and make. There’s a special attraction of automatophones, and vintage mechanical musical instruments, so take your time.
There’s also a lot of stuff from the Middle Ages, swords, staffs, shields and armoury as well as loads of bears!
A brown grizzly bear is the symbol of the city of Berlin, and has been, since 1280.
And up until a few weeks ago, there was a real brown bear living in the park right outside the museum and bears have been living there as live city mascots since 1939!
In fact, there used to be two (2) bears – Schnute and her daughter – Maxi!
A real live bear!
That’s a bit odd but it’s Berlin, we’re all slightly “off” around here and unsurprisingly, nobody was bothered about having a brown grizzly living behind the museum, in a small park, in the middle of the city!
And you’d still be able to see it but sadly and perhaps, rightly, the last real-life Berlin bear – Schnute (34 years old) recently passed away!
Anyway, you start in the basement and work your way upwards and outwards with the various Quarters, the trading parts, hunting and royalty, as well as the medieval walls, ruins of a monastery, churches and baroque palaces.
My favourite bits were the collections left behind and donated by the Hans & Luise Richter Family and the haute-bourgeoise household materials from the Beer-Meyerbeer-Richter German-Jewish family. I also loved the history (and I still do!) and royal paintings and pporcelain ceramics from Frederick II otherwise known as Frederick the Great and the King of Prussia in the 1700’s for his military victories, his reorganization of the Prussian army, his patronage of the Arts and the Enlightenment in Prussia, and “winning” the Seven Year War!
I also rather like the photographs and paintings of the various districts of Berlin 200 years and the way they look today! Go see for yourself here.
Price: Adults €5.00. Children under 18 free of charge. Students €3.00. Free admission for all on the first Wednesday of every month.
Highly recommended for everyone.
Don’t forget, the FIRST person to subscribe to my blog – The British Berliner – AND tell me why you would like to win the tickets on my post here, BEFORE December 31st, wins!
Have a fantastic end of year in 2015 and a brilliant bringing-in of the New Year, in 2016.
This post is not sponsored so I can’t wait to hear from you!
If you have any questions about Berlin, Germany or anywhere in Europe, don’t be shy, I’m an expert! Go ahead and ask me!
Have you been to any of these quirky museums? Do you know any even wackier? Have you ever seen a real life bear?
See you in Berlin.