Sat | Sep 22, 2018

The two sides of Berlin- a city divided where hip and heritage meet

Published:Sunday | June 14, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Berlin zoo
Kaiser Wilhelm
Section of the Berlin Wall
Brandenburg Gate under the gaze of the sun
Berlin TV Tower
Berlin Cathedral

Sports reporter Andre Lowe isn't a regular to our pages, but with his Diamond League assignments taking him across Europe in the coming weeks, we decided - well, to borrow him. Today, we see Berlin through his eyes.

Whether it's relaxing in Spree, immersing yourself in its rich, artsy culture; sipping an over-size bottle of beer in one of its must-visit beer gardens or spending a day in the city's expansive network of museums and memorials - Berlin is a global city with a lot to do and even more to see.

Just imagine a crossroads between the old and the new. Or better yet, an intersecting neon-lit highway where heritage hugs contemporary chic. Germany's capital not only boasts a chest of treasures dating back to its troubled past, but also ranks as a favourite among thrill-seeking young adults because of its colourful and vibrant entertainment options.

In truth, it may seem at times that the city isn't quite sure whether it prefers to be regarded for its scholastic offerings and historical gems,or for its fun-loving alter ego.

A point driven home by the 'Quadriga' - crowned Brandenburg Gate rising majestically a mere stone's throw away from one of the city's most popular rooftop drinking holes, and the ruins of the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church sharing space and visitors with the Europa Centre shopping haven.

A drive through Berlin must be like walking through a museum with thumping EDM blasting though your headphones. It seems, despite the fall of the wall, that Berlin is still very much divided - but who's complaining this time?

Speaking of the Berlin Wall, 'Berliner Mauer' as it is called by the locals, represents a turbulent period in German history. No trip to the city is complete without a visit to one of the most prominent legacies of the terrifying structure - the Bernauer Strasse memorial, which not only allows visitors a close-up look at the site's dark history, but also provides a stunning view of the East and West perspectives with the Berlin TV Tower rising in the background. A humbling experience and a chilling reminder - among its beautiful present, of just where this city is coming from.

Today, Brandenburg Gate, with its giant column and detailed craftmanship, not only ticks the 'Berlin must-see' box, but represents a symbol of German unity.

The green domed Berlin Cathedral, which sits on the banks of the Spree a few metres from Alexanderplatz - an attraction on its own with its architectural, shopping and food offerings, is another site not to be missed in Berlin. Elegantly crafted sculptures adorn this sprawling ode to craftsmanship, its manicured lawns a favourite for tourists and locals alike.

The Berlin Zoo, symphonies, street concerts, art exhibits, sporting events, bars and restaurants of all kind aplenty, the Potsdamer Platz open-air theatre - there is truly something for everyone in Berlin.