Head over Heels - Berlin Sights: Berlin Alexanderplatz
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FACTS ABOUT ALEXANDERPLATZ:

- Alexanderplatz in Berlin was East Germanys main square

- The former Stadtschloss (City Palace) was demolished by the Communists and replaced with the Palace of the Republic. The process is now about to be reversed. While the new palace is demolished already the reconstruction of the old palace will take time.

- On and around Alexanderplatz are Berlin Dome, City Hall (Rotes Rathaus) and the most popular TV tower

- Alexanderplatz is one of the main transport nodal point with various S-Bahn, U-Bahn, Trams and major routes meeting here.

- Alexanderplatz is the ideal starting point for exploring museum island. Unter den Linden starts here.


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Alexanderplatz in Berlin Mitte is one of most famous squares in Berlin. It is right in the heart of the city at the bottom of the boulevard Unter den Linden. Here (or nearby) you’ll find some of Berlins most interesting sights including the TV Tower, World Time Clock, Museum Island (Museumsinsel) with the Pergamon Museum, Nikolai quarter, City Hall (Rotes Rathaus), Berlin Dome and Humboldt University. Locals refer to Alexanderplatz as Alex.


The square started out as a cattle market in the early 19th century. It was in fact named after the Russian Czar who had visited Berlin in 1805. By the end of the century Alexanderplatz was connected to the local train system (S-Bahn) and got its own train station. A subway station (U-Bahn) followed in 1913. Alexanderplatz quickly turned into a commercial hot spot. The first big shopping center opened in 1904. By the 1920ies it – together with Potsdamer Platz – was at the heart of Berlin’s night life and a major traffic hub. It inspired authors and artists like Alfred Döblin who wrote the famous novel “Berlin Alexanderplatz”.


After the separation of the two Germanies Alexanderplatz played a somewhat different role. It became the center of East Berlin and as such the center of East Germany. If you consider the commies evil, Alexanderplatz would have been the center of evil.

It underwent massive redevelopment and not all of it was for the better. For example, the communists decided that the center of Berlin doesn’t need another palace so they blew up the Berliner Stadtschloss and build their very own version of a palace instead. The so called Palast der Republik (palace of the republic) was built for the people but it was also the place where the East Germanys government would reside.

It was a modern looking 1960ies style glass palace, so not particularly pretty, but the East German government was proud of it. And rightfully so: West Berlin at the time wasn’t any better when it comes to architectural taste. The "Kulturforum" on Potsdamer Platz with Berlin Philharmonics, Berlin State Library and National gallery bears witness to the lapse of taste that in the 1950ies/1960ies was called: innovative modernist architecture.

I'm not exaggerating; it is pretty much the ugliest ensemble of buildings I have ever laid eyes on. And that’s saying something.

Ironically after the German reunion the new government reversed the process or at least some of it. They blew up the communist palace and now there is nothing but a big hole. Apparently they are planning to rebuild the old palace and turn it into a cultural forum for the common people but – and here is the catch – it has to be funded privately. Considering how long other restoration and rebuilding projects took in Berlin (that had funding secured by the tax payer) I reckon that hole will be there for a long time.

The people who decided that the Kulturforum should be preserved and the East German Palace of the people destroyed deserve to be beaten with a stick. I hope at least some people that were in government at the time are ashamed of the decision but I admit it is unlikely.

When it comes to building management and long term strategic decisions you sometimes do get the impression Berlin is run by morons. Also it is hard to believe that they got away with demolishing an iconic building with such a historical relevance and all of it based on the assumption that in the future, if things work out, they might be able to restore the old palace of the King of Prussia. Why? It is all rather odd.


Back to the subject: Other additions to Alexanderplatz were welcomed. The TV tower for example. It is the second tallest structure in Europe and incredibly popular. The view from up there is stunning. The visitor center is a staggering 204 meters above the ground. You’d have to go to Moscow to top that.

Also; the commies turned Alexanderplatz into a pedestrian zone. That certainly was a good idea. One of my most popular tours through Berlin starts at Alexanderplatz. From there you can hit TV tower, Red City Hall, the Berlin Dome, then sidestep on to Museum Island, back passing Humboldt University, up Unter den Linden, then arriving at Brandenburg Gate and Reichstag.






Other Berlin Sights:

- Reichstag
- Holocaust Memorial
- Brandenburg Gate
- Checkpoint Charlie
- Berlin Airports
- Night life
- Alexanderplatz
- Zoo
- Kreuzberg

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