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Berlin: Past and Present 18:52

Published by: Zoe (Rick Steves' Europe) | School: Rick Steves' Europe

Join Rick as he explores Berlin's tumultuous past and vibrant present.

Berlin is a world-class capital, with a powerful military, grand architecture, and art-filled museums. Romantic art helped fuel the nationalistic German unification movement in the 1800s.

Explore Berlin's historic Reichstag building, home of the nation's parliament, which played a pivotal role in the rise of Hitler's power.

Intentionally, Berlin has no consequential Hitler-was-here sites. Instead, museums (such as the Topography of Terror) and memorials (including the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe) tell the story of the war and commemorate the horrific loss.

East and West Berlin were divided for four decades by the Berlin Wall, designed to keep East Germans from escaping — though some made it through, as recounted at the Museum of the Wall at Checkpoint Charlie. People power tore down the wall in 1989, reuniting the city.

East Berlin is revitalized, featuring trendy neighborhoods and the Mauerpark (a park that hosts karaoke where the Berlin Wall once stood). The Spree River, with boat tours and “beach” cafés, has become part of the people-friendly cityscape.