NEW BERLIN – THE LIGHTNESS OF BEING

B21st Century Berlin is all about TRANSPARENCY. It faces neither East, nor West, but looks only towards the future.

Bubble blower in the Tiergarten.

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Transparency is the idea that resonates with the Architects of modern Berlin.

Frank Gehry designed conference room and cafeteria within DZ Bank on Pariser Platz, 2001.

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You can see it at the Reichstag, now the seat of the unified German parliament, the Bundestag. British designer Sir Norman Foster reimagined the dome of the old building in 1999.

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You can see the light in the surrounding parliament buildings like the Bundeskanzleramt, the Chancellor’s modern office building, planned by Berliners Axel Schultes and Charlotte Frank. Opened in 2001.

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You can experience transparency  when you catch your  train at the enormous and immaculate Berlin central train station, the Hauptbahnhof.

180 panorama view courtesy of Wikimages. Designed by Meinhard von Gerkan, 2006.

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Because Berlin stood at the crossroads of the grimmest history of WWII and the Cold War, the city expresses a self-conscious desire to break from this past.  Helmut Jahn’s project is a futuristic theatre of light and transparency on the scale of the Roman Colosseum. The Sony Center opened in 2000 to the cost of about 750 million euros.

It’s a magnet for film going, shopping, and dining.

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In 1995 I. M. Pei completed the extension to the German Historical Museum, Deutsches Historisches Museum, where his idea was based on “…something helical and transparent…something that would be symbolic of the unification of East and West Germany.” That’s why he married his new building with the old Prussian Military Museum under a gravity-defying canopy of glass.

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In Berlin you’re always looking out or looking in, especially at the

 Winter Garden Restaurant of the extravagant KaDeWe, Kaufhaus des Westens (the Department Store of the West).

Second in size only to Harrods – 40,000 to 50,000 people visit this store everyday. The 7th and 8th floors are devoted entirely to food.

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  Since the post war era, the world’s architects built an international city on the ruins of old Berlin. Berlin has embraced inventiveness and diversity with an unrivaled determination.  The House of World Cultures, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, was a radical building in 1957 and has the unique mandate of being solely dedicated to work by non-European artists. We saw an exhibit on the tragedy and complexity of world debt.

Created by American architect Huge Stubbins, the “pregnant oyster” as the Germans call it, had to be rebuilt in 1987 (based on  the original design) due to a terrifying collapse!
The hall hosts performances of dance, theatre and music from around the world.

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In 2009, English architect David Chipperfield radically remodeled the old Neues Museum to create a fresh home for this collection of ancient Greek, Roman and Egyptian treasures.

Apollo thanks David Chipperfield.
So do we.

It looks like you’ve seen enough for one day.  Let’s go get something to eat!

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 Young Berliners might love their Mother’s schnitzel and spätzle at home, but when it comes to eating out, you can find an offering of food from almost every nation. One of our favorite restaurants is Basim, http://www.restaurant-basim.de, corner of Winsstraße 65 and Immanuelkirchstraße 7 in Prenzlaer, Berlin. The chef is half Lebanese and half German so he’s brought a deft touch to local, seasonal vegetables.

A festive pumpkin soup.
Sea bass accompanied by kasha and courgettes.
Shakshuka – Middle Eastern dish of roasted tomato ragout topped with an egg.

We also love the taste of the Middle East at Israeli restuarant ZULA, http://www.zula-berlin.com, Husemannstraße 10, Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin. They make the absolute best humos dishes outside of the Old City in Jerusalem.

Warm homemade humos with extra pine nuts is accompanied by tangy, fresh Israeli salad.
House baked pita and fresh carrot juice counteract all that German beer we’ve been sampling. Condiments are lemon/garlic juice and spicy hot sauce.
Dessert is part of the universal language of a satisfying meal. Here, it’s a rich brownie and an espresso macchiato.

One thought on “NEW BERLIN – THE LIGHTNESS OF BEING

  1. Stunning photographs of some of my favourite Berlin buildings. I keep meaning to go into the DZ Bank – your photo makes it look amazing! I was a little confused about the floors of the KaDeWe but I guess you’ve used the American convention of no Ground Floor.

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