Berlin in Berlin
Berlin (; ) is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Located in the European Plains, Berlin is influenced by a temperate seasonal climate. Around one third of the city's area is composed of forests, parks, gardens, rivers and lakes.
First documented in the 13th century, Berlin was the capital of the Kingdom of Prussia (1701–1918), the German Empire (1871–1918), the Weimar Republic (1919–1933) and the Third Reich (1933–1945). Berlin in the 1920s was the third largest municipality in the world. After World War II, the city became divided into East Berlin—the capital of East Germany—and West Berlin, a West German exclave surrounded by the Berlin Wall (1961–1989). Following German reunification in 1990, the city regained its status as the capital of Germany, hosting 147 foreign embassies.
Berlin is a world city of culture, politics, media, and science. Its economy is primarily based on the service sector, encompassing a diverse range of creative industries, media corporations, and convention venues. Berlin also serves as a continental hub for air and rail transport, and is a popular tourist destination. Its urban settings and historical legacy have made it a popular location for international film productions. The city is well known for its festivals, diverse architecture, nightlife, contemporary arts, public transportation networks and a high quality of living.
The origin of the name Berlin is unknown, but it may have its roots in the language of West Slavic inhabitants of the area of today's Berlin, and be related to the Old Polabian stem berl-/birl- "swamp". Folk etymology connects it to the German Bär, a bear, and a bear appears in the coat of arms of the city.
The earliest evidence of settlements in the area of today's Berlin is a wooden beam dated from approximately 1192. The first written records of towns in the area of present-day Berlin date from the late 12th century. Spandau is first mentioned in 1197 and Köpenick in 1209, although these areas did not join Berlin until 1920. The central part of Berlin can be traced back to two towns. Cölln on the Fischerinsel is first mentioned in a 1237 document, and Berlin, across the Spree in what is now called the Nikolaiviertel, is referenced in a document from 1244.
Berlin's history has left the city with a highly eclectic array of architecture and buildings. The city's appearance today is predominantly shaped by the key role it played in Germany's history in the 20th century. Each of the national governments based in Berlin—the 1871 German Empire, the Weimar Republic, Nazi Germany, East Germany, and now the reunified Germany—initiated ambitious (re-) construction programs, with each adding its own distinctive style to the city's architecture. Berlin was devastated by bombing raids during World War II, and many of the buildings that had remained after the war were demolished in the 1950s and 1960s in both West and East Berlin. Much of this demolition was initiated by municipal architecture programs to build new residential or business quarters and main roads.
The eastern parts of Berlin have many Plattenbauten, reminders of Eastern Bloc ambitions to create complete residential areas that had fixed ratios of shops, kindergartens and schools to the number of inhabitants.
The Fernsehturm (TV tower) at Alexanderplatz in Mitte is among the tallest structures in the European Union at 368 m. Built in 1969, it is visible throughout most of the central districts of Berlin. The city can be viewed from its 204 m high observation floor. Starting here the Karl-Marx-Allee heads east, an avenue lined by monumental residential buildings, designed in the Socialist Classicism Style of the Joseph Stalin era. Adjacent to this area is the Rotes Rathaus (City Hall), with its distinctive red-brick architecture. In front of it is the Neptunbrunnen, a fountain featuring a mythological group of Tritons, personifications of the four main Prussian rivers and Neptun on top of it.
The East Side Gallery is an open-air exhibition of art painted directly on the last existing portions of the Berlin Wall. It is the largest remaining evidence of the city's historical division. It has recently undergone a restoration.
The Brandenburg Gate is an iconic landmark of Berlin and Germany. It also appears on German euro coins (10 cent, 20 cent, and 50 cent). The Reichstag building is the traditional seat of the German Parliament, renovated in the 1950s after severe World War II damage. The building was again remodeled by British architect Norman Foster in the 1990s and features a glass dome over the session area, which allows free public access to the parliamentary proceedings and magnificent views of the city.
The Gendarmenmarkt, a neoclassical square in Berlin whose name dates back to the quarters of the famous Gens d'armes regiment located here in the 18th century, is bordered by two similarly designed cathedrals, the Französischer Dom with its observation platform and the Deutscher Dom. The Konzerthaus (Concert Hall), home of the Berlin Symphony Orchestra, stands between the two cathedrals.
The Museum Island in the River Spree houses five museums build from 1830 to 1930 and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Restoration and the construction of a main entrance to all museums, as well as the reconstruction of the Stadtschloss on the same island is costing over 2 billion Euros since reunification. Also located on the island and adjacent to the Lustgarten and palace is Berlin Cathedral, emperor William II's ambitious attempt to create a Protestant counterpart to St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. A large crypt houses the remains of some of the earlier Prussian royal family. The church is now owned by the Protestant umbrella Union of Evangelical Churches (UEK). Like many other buildings, it suffered extensive damage during the Second World War and had to be restored. Berlin's best preserved medieval Church of St. Mary's is the 1st preaching venue – Memorial Church being the 2nd – of the Bishop of the Evangelical Church of Berlin-Brandenburg-Silesian Upper Lusatia (EKBO), a Protestant regional church body. St. Hedwig's Cathedral is Berlin's Roman Catholic cathedral.
Unter den Linden is a tree lined east-west avenue from the Brandenburg Gate to the site of the former Berliner Stadtschloss, and was once Berlin's premier promenade. Many Classical buildings line the street and part of Humboldt University is located there. Friedrichstraße was Berlin's legendary street during the Roaring Twenties. It combines 20th century traditions with the modern architecture of today's Berlin.
Potsdamer Platz is an entire quarter built from scratch after 1995 after the Wall came down. To the west of Potsdamer Platz is the Kulturforum, which houses the Gemäldegalerie, and is flanked by the Neue Nationalgalerie and the Berliner Philharmonie. The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, a Holocaust memorial, is situated to the north.
The area around Hackescher Markt is home to the fashionable culture, with countless clothing outlets, clubs, bars, and galleries. This includes the Hackesche Höfe, a conglomeration of buildings around several courtyards, reconstructed around 1996. Oranienburger Straße and the nearby New Synagogue were the center of Jewish culture before 1933. Although the New Synagogue is still an anchor for Jewish history and culture, Oranienburger straße and surrounding areas are increasingly known for the shopping and nightlife.
The Straße des 17. Juni, connecting the Brandenburg Gate and Ernst-Reuter-Platz, serves as central East-West-Axis. Its name commemorates the uprisings in East Berlin of 17 June 1953. Approximately half-way from the Brandenburg Gate is the Großer Stern, a circular traffic island on which the Siegessäule (Victory Column) is situated. This monument, built to commemorate Prussia's victories, was relocated 1938–39 from its previous position in front of the Reichstag.
The Kurfürstendamm is home to some of Berlin's luxurious stores with the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church at its eastern end on Breitscheidplatz. The church was destroyed in the Second World War and left in ruins. Nearby on Tauentzienstraße is KaDeWe, claimed to be continental Europe's largest department store. The Rathaus Schöneberg, where John F. Kennedy made his famous "Ich bin ein Berliner!" speech, is situated in Tempelhof-Schöneberg.
West of the center, Schloss Bellevue is the residence of the German President. Schloss Charlottenburg, which was burnt out in the Second World War and largely destroyed, has been rebuilt and is the largest surviving historical palace in Berlin.
The Funkturm Berlin is a 150 m tall lattice radio tower at the fair area, built between 1924 and 1926. It is the only observation tower which stands on insulators, and has a restaurant 55 m and an observation deck 126 m above ground, which is reachable by a windowed elevator.
Berlin is the capital of the Federal Republic of Germany. The President of Germany, whose functions are mainly ceremonial under the German constitution, has his official residence in Schloss Bellevue. Berlin is the seat of the German executive, housed in the Chancellery, the Bundeskanzleramt.
Facing the Chancellery is the Bundestag, the German Parliament, housed in the renovated Reichstag building since the government moved back to Berlin in 1998. The Bundesrat ("federal council", performing the function of an upper house) is the representation of the Federal States (Bundesländer) of Germany and has its seat at the former Prussian House of Lords. Though most of the ministries are seated in Berlin, some of them, as well as some minor departments, are seated in Bonn, the former capital of West Germany. Discussions to move the remaining branches continuue.
The city and state parliament is the House of Representatives (Abgeordnetenhaus), which currently has 141 seats. Berlin's executive body is the Senate of Berlin (Senat von Berlin). The Senate of Berlin consists of the Governing Mayor (Regierender Bürgermeister) and up to eight senators holding ministerial positions, one of them holding the official title "Mayor" (Bürgermeister) as deputy to the Governing Mayor. The Social Democratic Party (SPD) and The Left (Die Linke) took control of the city government after the 2001 state election and won another term in the 2006 state election. After the 2011 state election, there will probably be a coalition with the Christian Democratic Union.
The Governing Mayor is simultaneously Lord Mayor of the city (Oberbürgermeister der Stadt) and Prime Minister of the Federal State (Ministerpräsident des Bundeslandes). The office of Berlin's Governing Mayor is in the Rotes Rathaus (Red City Hall). Since 2001 this office has been held by Klaus Wowereit of the SPD.
The total annual state budget of Berlin in 2007 exceeded €20.5 ($28.7) billion including a budget surplus of €80 ($112) million. The figures indicate the first surplus in the history of the city state. Due to increasing growth rates and tax revenues, the Senate of Berlin calculates an increasing budget surplus in 2008. The total budget includes an estimated amount of €5.5 ($7.7) bn, which is directly financed by either the German government or the German Bundesländer. Mainly due to reunification-related expenditures, Berlin as a German state has accumulated more debt than any other city in Germany, with the most current estimate being €60 ($84)bn in December 2007. In 2011, the very high level of public sector debt prompted the Stabilitätsrat von Bund und Ländern (Council for Fiscal Stability of the Federal and Local States) to declare a possible fiscal emergency for the city.
Since German reunification on 3 October 1990, Berlin has been one of the three city states, together with Hamburg and Bremen, among the present 16 states of Germany.
Berlin is subdivided into twelve boroughs (Bezirke), down from 23 boroughs before Berlin's 2001 administrative reform. Each borough contains a number of localities (Ortsteile), which often have historic roots in older municipalities that predate the formation of Greater Berlin on 1 October 1920 and became urbanized and incorporated into the city. Many residents strongly identify with their localities or boroughs. At present Berlin consists of 95 localities, which are commonly made up of several city neighborhoods—called Kiez in the Berlin dialect—representing small residential areas.
Each borough is governed by a borough council (Bezirksamt) consisting of five councilors (Bezirksstadträte) and a borough mayor (Bezirksbürgermeister). The borough council is elected by the borough assembly (Bezirksverordnetenversammlung). The boroughs of Berlin are not independent municipalities, however. The power of borough governments is limited and subordinate to the Senate of Berlin. The borough mayors form the council of mayors (Rat der Bürgermeister), led by the city's governing mayor, which advises the senate.
The localities have no local government bodies, and the administrative duties of the former locality representative, the Ortsvorsteher, were taken over by the borough mayors.
Berlin maintains official partnerships with 17 cities. Town twinning between Berlin and other cities began with Los Angeles in 1967. East Berlin's partnerships were canceled at the time of German reunification and later partially reestablished. West Berlin's partnerships had previously been restricted to the borough level. During the Cold War era, the partnerships had reflected the different power blocs, with West Berlin partnering with capitals in the West, and East Berlin mostly partnering with cities from the Warsaw Pact and its allies.
There are several joint projects with many other cities, such as Belgrade, Copenhagen, Helsinki, Johannesburg, Shanghai, Seoul, Sofia, Sydney, and Vienna. Berlin participates in international city associations such as the Union of the Capitals of the European Union, Eurocities, Network of European Cities of Culture, Metropolis, Summit Conference of the World's Major Cities, Conference of the World's Capital Cities. Berlin's official sister cities are:
- 1991 Moscow, Russia
- 1991 Budapest, Hungary
- 1992 Brussels, Belgium
- 1993 Jakarta, Indonesia
- 1993 Tashkent, Uzbekistan
- 1993 Mexico City, Mexico
- 1994 Beijing, China
- 1994 Tokyo, Japan
- 1994 Buenos Aires, Argentina
- 1995 Prague, Czech Republic
- 2000 Windhoek, Namibia
- 2000 London, United Kingdom
In 2009, the nominal GDP of the citystate Berlin experienced a growth rate of 1.7% (−3.5% in Germany) and totaled €90.1 (~$117) billion. Berlin's economy is dominated by the service sector, with around 80% of all companies doing business in services. The unemployment rate reached a 15-year low in September 2011 and stood at 12.7% (German average: 6.6%).
Fast-growing economic sectors in Berlin include communications, life sciences, and transportation, particularly services that use information and communication technologies, as well as media and music, advertising and design, biotechnology, environmental services, and medical engineering.
The Science and Business Park of Berlin-Adlershof is among the 15 largest technology parks worldwide. Research and development have high economic significance for the city, and the Berlin–Brandenburg region ranks among the top-three innovative regions in the EU.
|2007 EUROSTAT||Area||Population||Nominal GDP in billion||Nominal GDP per capita|
|892 km2||3,420,000||€ 85 / ~$110||€ 24,900 / ~$32,370|
|357050 km2||82,000,000||€ 2,482 / ~$3,227||€ 29,500 / ~$38,350|
|4325675 km2||498,000,000||€ 12,363 / ~$16,072||€ 24,900 / ~$32,370|
Siemens, a Fortune Global 500 company and one of the 30 German DAX companies, has a headquarter in Berlin. The state-owned railway, Deutsche Bahn, has its headquarters in Berlin as well. Many German and international companies have business or service centres in the city.
Among the 20 largest employers in Berlin are the Deutsche Bahn, the hospital provider, Charité, the local public transport provider, BVG, and the service provider, Dussmann and the Piepenbrock Group. Daimler manufactures cars, and BMW builds motorcycles in Berlin. Bayer Health Care and Berlin Chemie are major pharmaceutical companies headquartered in the city. The second largest German airline Air Berlin is also headquartered in Berlin.
Berlin has 746 hotels with 112,400 beds as of the end of 2010. The city recorded 20.8 million overnight hotel stays and 9.1 million hotel guests in the same year. Berlin has a yearly total of approximately 135 million daily visitors, which puts it in third place among the most-visited city destinations in the European Union.
Berlin is among the top three convention cities in the world and is home to Europe's biggest convention center, the Internationales Congress Centrum (ICC). The city's population density was 3,848 inhabitants per km² (9,966/sq mi). The urban area of Berlin stretches beyond the city limits and comprises about 3.7 million people, while the metropolitan area of the Berlin-Brandenburg region is home to about 4.3 million in an area of 5370 km2. In 2004, The Larger Urban Zone was home to over 4.9 million people in an area of 17,385 km². making it the largest Turkish community outside of Turkey.
In the 1990s the Aussiedlergesetze enabled immigration to Germany of some residents from the former Soviet Union. Today ethnic Germans from countries of the former Soviet Union make up the largest portion of the Russian-speaking community. The current decade experiences an increasing influx from various Western countries. Especially young EU-Europeans are settling in the city. Additionally, Berlin has seen a rise of African immigrants during the last two decades.
In December 2010, 457,806 residents (13.5% of the population) were of foreign nationality, originating from 190 different countries. The largest groups of foreign nationals are those from Turkey (104,556), Poland (40,988), Serbia (19,230), Italy (15,842), Russia (15,332), France (13,262), Vietnam (13,199), the United States (12,733), Bosnia and Herzegovina (10,198), the United Kingdom (10,191), Croatia (10,104), and Israel (estimated 10,000) . The diversity and vivacity of the Zeitgeist Metropolis led to a trendsetting image among major cities. The city has a very diverse art scene and is home to around 420 art galleries. Many young people and international artists continue to settle in the city, and Berlin has established itself as a center of youth and popular culture in Europe.
The expanding cultural role of Berlin is underscored by the 2003 announcement that the Popkomm, Europe's largest annual music industry convention—previously hosted for 15 years by Cologne—would move to Berlin. Shortly thereafter, the Universal Music Group and MTV also decided to move their European headquarters and main studios to the banks of the River Spree in Friedrichshain. In 2005, Berlin was awarded the title of "City of Design" by UNESCO. Today, the city has a huge number of gay clubs and festivals, such as Easter fetish week (Easter in Berlin), Christopher Street Day (Berlin Pride)—central Europe's largest gay-lesbian pride event celebrated on the last weekend of June—Folsom Europe and Hustlaball. Berlin is also leading Europe in the number of fetish clubs. "Easter in Berlin" and "Folsom Europe Berlin" are the biggest gay fetish festivals in Europe. Annual gay highlights in Berlin are also the gay and lesbian street festival in Berlin-Schöneberg (Lesbisch-schwules Stadtfest) and Kreuzberg Pride in June. The largest gay areas in Berlin are located in Schöneberg close to Nollendorfplatz and in Prenzlauer Berg at the Schönhauser Allee subway station.
Galleries and museums
Berlin is home to 153 museums. born in December 2006. The city's other zoo is Tierpark Friedrichsfelde, founded in 1955 on the grounds of Schloss Friedrichsfelde in the Borough of Lichtenberg.
Berlin's Botanischer Garten includes the Botanic Museum Berlin. With an area of 43 ha and around 22,000 different plant species it is one of the largest and most diverse gardens in the world. Other gardens in the city include the Britzer Garten, site of the 1985 Bundesgartenschau, and the Erholungspark Marzahn, promoted under the name Gardens of the world.
The Tiergarten is Berlin's largest park located in Mitte and was designed by Peter Joseph Lenné. In Kreuzberg the Viktoriapark provides a good viewing point over the southern part of inner city Berlin. Treptower Park beside the Spree in Treptow has a monument honoring the Soviet soldiers killed in the 1945 Battle of Berlin. The Volkspark in Friedrichshain, which opened in 1848, is the oldest park in the city. Its summit is man-made and covers a Second World War bunker and rubble from the ruins of the city; at its foot is Germany's main memorial to Polish soldiers.
Berlin is known for its numerous beach bars along the river Spree. Together with the countless cafés, restaurants and green spaces in all districts, they create an important source of recreation and leisure time.
Berlin has established a high-profile reputation as a host city of international sporting events. Berlin hosted the 1936 Olympics and was the host city for the 2006 FIFA World Cup Final. The IAAF World Championships in Athletics were held in the Olympiastadion in August 2009. The annual Berlin Marathon and the annual ÅF Golden League event ISTAF for athletics are also held here. The FIVB World Tour has chosen an inner-city site near Alexanderplatz to present a beach volleyball Grand Slam every year.
Open Air gatherings of several hundred thousands spectators have become popular during international football competitions, like the World Cup or the UEFA European Football Championship. Many fans and viewers are coming together to watch the matches on huge video screens. The event is known as the Fan Mile and takes place at the Brandenburg Gate every two years.
Several major clubs representing the most popular spectator sports in Germany have their base in Berlin.
|Hertha BSC||Football||1892||Bundesliga||Olympiastadion||M. Babbel|
|1. FC Union Berlin||Football||1966||2. Bundesliga||Alte Försterei||U. Neuhaus|
|ALBA Berlin||Basketball||1991||BBL||O2 World||Gordon Herbert|
|Eisbären Berlin||Ice hockey||1954||DEL||O2 World||D. Jackson|
|Füchse Berlin||Handball||1891||HBL||Max-Schmeling-Halle||D. Sigurdsson|
|Berlin Recycling Volleys||Volleyball||1911||DVL||Max-Schmeling-Halle||Mark Lebedew|
- "Berlin ist eine Stadt, verdammt dazu, ewig zu werden, niemals zu sein" ("Berlin is a city condemned always to become, never to be.")
(Karl Scheffler, author of Berlin: Ein Stadtschicksal, 1910)
- "Ich hab noch einen Koffer in Berlin" ("I still have a suitcase in Berlin")
(Marlene Dietrich, 1951 song by the actress and singer born in Berlin-Schöneberg.)
- "Ich bin ein Berliner". ("I am a citizen of Berlin")
(John F. Kennedy, President of the United States, 1963 while visiting Berlin)
- "The greatest cultural extravaganza that one could imagine."
(David Bowie, singer, on 1970s Berlin)
- "Berlin wird leben und die Mauer wird fallen." ("Berlin will live and the wall will fall.")
(Willy Brandt, Former Governing Mayor of West Berlin and chancellor of Germany, 10 November 1989)
- "Berlin ist arm, aber sexy." ("Berlin is poor, but sexy.")
(Klaus Wowereit, Governing Mayor, in a press interview, 2003)
- Berlin.de—Official Website
- Official Website of the Berlin-Brandenburg Metropolitan Area
- Regional directory
- Berlin Tourist Information
- Dumont Restaurantguide Berlin
- Monthly English-language magazine for Berlin
- English-language city guide for Berlin
- Berlin Travel Tips
- Berlin photo gallery—Images of Berlin and its most popular monuments.