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Top 10 essential things to see and doIf you're heading to Berlin to take part in the real,- BERLIN-MARATHON, it's not going to be the only thing you'll want do while you are there even if you like to be single-mindedly focused on your running. The great city of Berlin has many sights to see and provides many things to do, some of which you will encounter along the marathon route although sightseeing may not be at the top of your agenda on race day! But before or after the big day you should give yourself some time to explore the historic German capital. To help you get the most out of your trip, here's our shortlist of essential things to see and do in Berlin. Brandenburg Gate The late 18th century Brandenburg Gate is one of the most famous sights of Berlin and should be on any visitor's list of things to see. Its position in no man's land at the border between the former East and West Berlin meant that, along with the Berlin Wall (constructed in 1961), it became a symbol of the city's divide but since the fall of the Wall in 1989 it has become the symbol of a reunified Berlin. The 60 metre tall Brandenburg Gate was the main entrance to the city, and is the only gate that remains of the Berlin Wall. You can walk through the Gate at your own leisure, as it has been conveniently closed to traffic since 2002. Berlin Wall The 3.6 metre high Berlin Wall the construction of which started in August 1961 after the East German authorities decided to close the border around the Western sectors of Berlin to prevent people from fleeing has become a hugely recognisable symbol of the city's history. Most of the Wall has been dismantled since, but some parts still stand the most famous being the 1,316 metre long East Side Gallery, which contains over 100 paintings and is located along Mhlenstrasse between Warschauer Strasse and the Hauptbahnhof. Other, smaller parts of the Wall can be found at the Reichstag and the Invalidenfriedhof, as well as in Bernauer Strasse (where the official destruction of the Wall started), Bornholmer Strasse, Niederkirchner Strasse and Zimmerstrasse near Checkpoint Charlie. Alexanderplatz and the Fernsehturm TV tower Alexanderplatz is arguably the most famous square in Berlin, and is referred to by locals as 'Alex'. It was the centre of East Berlin, and during the communist years was used as a showcase of socialist architecture, the most notable piece being the huge television tower (the highest building in Berlin at 365m/1,197ft tall), known as the Fernsehturm or the Telespargel (toothpick). The tower's viewing platform (at 203m high) provides views over the city that you will never forget. Other notable landmarks here include the Fountain of International Friendship and the World Time Clock. Reichstag Reinstated as the seat of the German Parliament when it relocated from Bonn in 1999. The building is located close to the Brandenburg Gate and was significantly reconstructed in the late 1990s, when an accessible glass dome was built over the plenary hall, making it one of the biggest tourist attractions in Berlin. You can visit the
Reichstag and walk all the way to the top of the dome, which affords great views across the city, especially at night. Visitors can tour the buildings, listen to talks and even attend sittings of Parliament. Some visiting options require prior booking. Potsdamer Platz After being virtually flattened by years of conflict, Potsdamer Platz was reconstructed extensively in the 1990s, which allowed the square to emerge today as a modern cultural hotspot containing shops, restaurants, cafes, bars, and cinemas. The redevelopment in the business district led to the addition of several landmark towers, a shopping arcade, an entertainment centre and residential buildings. One of the most impressive architectural attractions is the Sony Centre, which includes an Imax theatre and an office tower. Its neighbour the Kohlhof building has an observation deck at over 90m up. The Berliner Dom Completed in 1905, Berlin Cathedral ('Berliner Dom') was inevitably damaged by the bombing during the Second World War, but reconstruction started in the 1970s and the building finally reopened to the public in 1993. The baroque-style building influenced by the Italian Renaissance was modified from its original design into a more simplified form during the reconstruction. The Dom can be visited daily, and features a richly decorated interior containing the magnificent Sauer's Organ, the 1530 Elector's tomb, a neo-baroque pulpit and stained glass windows. The Dom's museum, which has been open since November 2005, presents models, paintings and construction plans of the building alongside exhibitions concerning the architects and artists involved. Gendarmenmarkt Considered by many to be Berlin's prettiest square, the Gendarmenmarkt is flanked by the twin churches Deutscher Dom (German Cathedral) and Franzsischer Dom (French Cathedral), and the neoclassical Konzerthaus (concert house). The German Cathedral and French Cathedral were both originally constructed in the early 18th century before being destroyed during the war, but were later reconstructed. Both house small museums, and the French Cathedral has a dome which affords great panoramic views of the city. The name of the square comes from the 'Soldier King' Frederick William I, who housed his cavalry (gens d'arms) here during the 18th century. Berlin Zoo and Aquarium Founded in 1841, Berlin Zoo is Germany's oldest zoo and also one of the largest zoos in Europe, with around 14,000 animals, most of whom live in open natural habitats over the 74-acre site. The zoo has a modern birdhouse, which has over 550 different species of birds. Adjacent to the birdhouse is the zoo's highly popular aquarium, which boasts more than 250 viewing tanks containing over 9,000 fish, reptiles, amphibians, insects and many other marine creatures. And don't miss the Elephant Gate a magnificent Oriental gate with elephant sculptures that was constructed in 1899 and restored to its former beauty in the 1980s. The Jewish Museum The Jewish Museum (Jdisches Museum Berlin) is a lively centre and thought-provoking place that explores Jewish culture and history from the earliest origins of the Jewish people in Europe, through the Holocaust and to the present day. The museum is housed in a huge metal structure designed by architect Daniel Libeskind,
which opened in 2001. The unique architectural design created an open area enclosed by the internal walls of the museum, called 'the memory void', for those affected by the Holocaust. The story of this period is reflected in several special areas within the building, although the museum is not exclusively about Holocaust, and there are many interactive exhibits. Museum Island A unique ensemble of museum buildings, including the National Gallery, the Old Museum (Altes Museum), the Pergamon Museum and the Bode Museum. The National Gallery specialises in works from the 19th and 20th centuries as well as international contemporary art, and is also famous for its collection of French impressionist art. The Old Museum houses a collection of 18th, 19th and early 20th century paintings and statues, whereas the massive Pergamon Museum is divided into five sections: the Antiquities Collection, the Middle East Museum, the Islamic Museum, the Far East Collection, and the Museum of Popular Art and would take several days to view properly in its entirety! Finally, the Bode Museum has outstanding exhibits of Byzantine and early Christian relics on show.
Top 10 shopping hotspotsYou won't go short of options when going for a spot of bargain hunting in Berlin. From well-known shopping boulevards such as Ku'damm or Friedrichstrasse, to a variety of malls, department stalls and smaller boutiques, there are many shopping destinations that should be high on your list of visiting priorities. Whatever it is you are looking for, whether it is fashionable clothes, antiques, or other specialised items, Berlin will provide you with a huge choice. We've selected some of the locations you just won't want to miss. Friedrichstrasse Some of the most elegant shops in Berlin are situated in this shopping district, including the large Galeries Lafayette department store, which offers a touch of France, from fashion through to food. For local fashion, though, the neighbouring Unter den Linden area is excellent; here you will find a selection of boutiques, mainly between Friedrichstrasse and the Brandenburg Gate. New specialist and smaller clothing stores have also sprung up recently in the Nikolai Quarter. Kurfrstendamm The Ku'damm including the Charlottenburg, Wilmersdorf and Schneberg areas is probably the city's most lively and famous shopping district. The Ku'damm, which stretches on for around two miles, has plenty of great shopping malls, boutiques, restaurants and bars. Historically it has been associated with some of the exclusive labels such as Prada, Cartier and Versace, but these days they share the shopping streets with just about every conceivable retailer. Some of the best shopping is to be found in the smaller streets just off the Ku'damm itself. KaDeWe A tourist attraction in its own right, the Kaufhaus des Westens (KaDeWe) is a massive department store located at the end of Tauentzienstrasse. With no fewer than eight floors of shopping, the store has everything that you might need from designer label clothes and fashion accessories to a large food hall (with its legendary delicacies department) on the sixth floor. The KaDeWe is also famous for being the only department store in the city to escape destruction during the Second World War.
Potsdamer Platz Arkaden Berlin's flagship shopping mall houses around 120 shops, both large and small, and numerous places to eat. There is a good selection of boutiques and stylish department stores all housed in an ultra-modern building that features