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March 30, 2010

Berlin Travel Guide

Greater Berlin is a collection of seven towns, 59 rural communities, and 27 estates.

Orientation

Greater Berlin is a collection of seven towns, 59 rural communities, and 27 estates, which were welded together by the state of Prussia to form the city of Berlin. Today most of the 23 districts still go by their old names. Ground zero for the "New Berlin" is Mitte (the center), the heart of the city prior to its division after World War II. Lying between the eastern end of the Tiergarten and Alexanderplatz it contains some of the most important new developments, including Potsdamer Platz, the forthcoming Leipziger Platz, the Monument to the Murdered Jews of Europe, and the majority of Berlin's historical buildings.

The major thoroughfare in Mitte is Unter den Linden, which was the main east-to-west axis of the city when Karl Friedrich Schinkel, Berlin's greatest architect, laid Berlin out in the 19th century, although he turned it into the boulevard it is today. It runs from the Brandenburg Gate to the Schlossbrücke, crossing the river Spree in front of Museum Island, site of three important museums: the Pergamon, the Altes, and the Bode. Along Unter den Linden are some of the city's most important cultural institutions, such as the Staatsoper Unter den Linden. Past the river Spree, Unter den Linden turns into Karl-Liebknecht Strasse. This area contains the major government buildings of the former East Germany, such as the Palace of the Republic, seat of the East German legislature, and Alexanderplatz, nicknamed Alex, the transportation and shopping center of former East Berlin. It's a vast, cold space, but it contains the city's most prominent landmark, the 1,214-foot Television Tower, the third-highest building in Europe.

The second most important street in Mitte is Friedrichstrasse, the district's luxury shopping center. Two blocks away is the Gendarmenmarkt, one of the city's prettiest squares, and around it a crop of fashionable restaurants and luxury hotels. But the liveliest area in Mitte is the Scheunenviertel, the former Jewish quarter between Rosenthaler Strasse and Oranienburger Strasse. Here shops and art galleries have sprouted in the restored Hackesche Höfe and Heckmann's Hof and the surrounding streets. This is also the place to get an idea of what Berlin looked like before the war, as many of the buildings clearly have not been touched since then.

Other districts of interest to visitors are:

  • Tiergarten, the district adjoining Mitte to the west. It contains the Tiergarten, the largest city park in Europe, the Kulturforum museum complex, the commercial area that was once the heart of West Berlin, and the two most important capital buildings, the Reichstag and the Federal Chancellery.
  • Prenzlauer Berg, behind Alexanderplatz, has some of the city's most beautiful residential architecture, much of it 19th-century. Two good places to see it: Kollwitzplatz and Schönhauser Allee--one of the area's main commercial streets.
  • Schöneberg, just southwest of Mitte, has the city's most famous department store, KaDeWe, which stands for Kaufhaus des Westens (Department Store of the West). It also has a number of good antiques stores near Wittenbergplatz, mainly on Eisenacher Strasse and Keithstrasse.
  • Charlottenburg, to the west of Tiergarten, is the center of luxury shopping in western Berlin. The main street is Kurfürstendamm, known as the Ku'damm. It's a lively thoroughfare of top international designer boutiques, touristy shops, and American outposts like Eddie Bauer. The best shopping streets: Fasanenstrasse and the streets around Savignyplatz. On the western edge of Charlottenburg, bordering Charlottenburg Palace, are several small, exemplary museums, the Bröhan-Museum, Berggruen Collection, and Egyptian Museum.To see Berlin city panoramas, click here www.cityscope.de

Berlin Basics

Telephone Numbers The country code is 49; the city code for Berlin is 30 from abroad, 030 within the country.
Local Time Six hours ahead of EST.
Currency Deutsche Mark, abbreviated DM.
Current Exchange Rate DM1.93=$1.
Best Time To Visit April, May, September, and October. Weather in both summer and winter can be extreme.
Airlines Served By Air France, Air New Zealand, American, British Airways, Continental, Delta, Iberia, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Lufthansa, Sabena, Singapore Airlines, Swissair, United, Northwest.
U.S. Gateways None. (See Getting There.)
Flight Time Eight hours (from the East Coast).
Cab from Airport to Mitte $18.
Airport Car Rental Hertz, Avis, Europcar.
Taxis At taxi stands or can be hailed. Taxis, usually Mercedes, are spotless, and drivers are very knowledgeable.
Taxi Tipping Around 10 percent.
Hotel Taxes No hotel tax.
Restaurant Tipping Service is not generally included; a 10 percent tip is customary. Note that credit/charge card slips often don't have a space for the tip.
Further Information Contact Berlin Tourism Marketing at 540-372-1292 or www.berlin.de.

Getting There

There are no nonstop flights to Berlin from the United States. You must make a connection in Frankfurt (one-hour flight) or in another European capital. Flights arrive at Tegel, in northwest Berlin, about a 20-minute cab ride from Unter den Linden. The two main train stations are Bahnhof Zoo and Friedrichstrasse Bahnhof, the latter being closer to the hotels in the city center covered in this guide.

Getting Around

Surprisingly easy, despite the size of the city and the construction in the center. Taxis are plentiful, and traffic is moderate in comparison to other major European capitals. Moreover, the U-Bahn (the subway) and S-Bahn (the elevated railway) are fast, clean, and stop at all the major sites of interest.

Note that trains, trams, and buses employ farecards, available at newsstands and from vending machines in subway stations, and an honor system. Instead of paying the bus driver or token-booth attendant, you insert one end of the card into a machine, or Entwerter, when you get on the bus or train. It validates the ticket by stamping the date and time on it. Resist the temptation to ride for free. Ticket inspections by plainclothesmen are frequent, and those without a ticket are fined on the spot. If you plan to make extensive use of the U- and S-Bahn, buy one of the multifare tickets. (Such tickets must be inserted into the Entwerter only the first time they're used.)

Mitte

Hotels

HOTEL ADLON Before World War II this was the grand hotel in Berlin—and the inspiration for the movie of the same name. Almost all of the building burned down in the final days of the war, and the present hotel is a faithful re-creation of the original. The location is certainly tops--on Unter den Linden, a stone's throw from the Brandenburg Gate. And the lobby is very lively, clearly a meeting point, especially for afternoon tea.

The two weak points were the room decor and the service. The former, while sleek-looking, wasn't terribly comfortable. The couch in my suite was covered in buttery leather but was a sit-up-straight model. The desk built into a living-room closet is a great idea, but the couch placement hardly left room for a desk chair to be inserted before the writing surface. And the room could use a full-length mirror. On the plus side, the room had a galley kitchen, bedside controls, and a walk-in closet, plus two built-in closets.

Service was hit-and-miss. Empty glasses were left on the night table; a bouquet thoughtfully placed on the dining-room table was left there long after the flowers had keeled over; and at 4 p.m. one day the room hadn't yet been made up.

Hotel Adlon rooms have the best views of the Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag. You'll have to get one on a high floor on the north (the front) or west side of the hotel. Twelve-series rooms are tops in this regard, as they're right on the northwest corner of the building; runners-up would be even-numbered rooms ending in 10 down to 06. Rooms 208 and 408—both suites—not only have a great view of the Brandenburg Gate, but their own saunas as well. $265-$6,220.
Unter den Linden 77; 22-61-11-0;
fax 22-61-11-60.
www.kempinski.com/adlon.htm

FOUR SEASONS HOTEL BERLIN In a city of self-conscious new buildings, the 204-room Four Seasons Hotel is understated to a fault, its only ambition to blend into the architectural fabric around the Gendarmenmarkt. Along with a terrific location, this is the best and most luxurious hotel in the center right now. The service is excellent, and the staff has clearly been drilled in the art of taking care of requests and problems with dispatch. FOUR SEASONS HOTEL BERLIN In a city of self-conscious new buildings, the 204-room Four Seasons Hotel is understated to a fault, its only ambition to blend into the architectural fabric around the Gendarmenmarkt. Along with a terrific location, this is the best and most luxurious hotel in the center right now. The service is excellent, and the staff has clearly been drilled in the art of taking care of requests and problems with dispatch.

Like the hotel facade, the rooms eschew decorative flourishes in favor of solid, bourgeois comfort. The furnishings, which have overtones of Biedermeier, are the same in all of the rooms. The difference between room categories (standard, superior, deluxe) is in the view, the prime one being of the Gendarmenmarkt, which is beautifully illuminated at night. Go for a 23-series room on a high floor. These one-bedroom deluxe suites are on the corner of the building diagonally opposite the square. The 22- and 24-series rooms on either side are the doubles to get. If these rooms are unavailable, trade view for size and request 414, a large standard suite over the courtyard.

The hotel's restaurant serves a very well executed menu of international dishes. The dining room is spacious, and it looks out on the Gendarmenmarkt. Dinner for two: $180. Rooms: $255-$2,600. Charlottenstrasse 49;
20-33-8; fax 20-33-61-66.
www.fourseasons.com

DAS HOTEL AM GENDARMENMARKT This 92-room boutique hotel on Gendarmenmarkt will appeal to those who appreciate cool, modern decor: black-and-white marble floors, white-leather contemporary couches, lots of green-frosted glass. The sleek marble bathrooms are dramatic, but they contain one annoying design flaw, a makeup mirror that doesn't adjust up or down. Rooms here have the best views of the square, particularly those on the fifth and sixth floors. Fifth-floor rooms have balconies. (Best of the best is 505, a junior suite that has two terraces.) Uneven-numbered rooms look directly at the dome of the French Cathedral.

I liked the exercise room, with chaises facing windows on the square; the breakfast buffet, which looks like a display case in the food halls of KaDeWe; and the staff, particularly the front-desk clerk who borrowed a heater from the Four Seasons, just up the block, when the heat in my room was a little sluggish the first night. (And thanks to the Four Seasons for lending it.) $170-$520. (The latter price is for the bilevel Maisonette suite, which, ironically, doesn't have the finest view. Charlottenstrasse 50-52;
20-37-50;
fax 20-37-51-00.
www.dorint.de/berlin-gendarmenmarkt/

WESTIN GRAND BERLIN Constructed in 1985 as the Grand Hotel Berlin, this was East Berlin's first luxury hotel. Given Communism's track record with such projects, the Grand Hotel wasn't bad. The architecture offered some drama—a marble-clad, octagonal, atrium-style lobby, as well as a sweeping central staircase carpeted in red. It added to the powerhouse effect—and reminded you of where you were.

But with Westin now in charge, group business is up, the carpeting is a mundane mud-colored print, and the rooms are being redecorated in a standard, chain-hotel style. The 35 themed suites, which are decorated individually with furniture of different eras, are the way to go here. $230-$1,815. Friedrichstrasse 158-164; 800-937-8461; 20-270;
fax 20-273-362.

Restaurants

AIGNER Opened last year in Das Hotel am Gendarmenmarkt, Aigner has a vintage feel thanks to globe lights and dark-wood tables and chairs, which once decorated its namesake in Vienna, Café Aigner. The menu has some Viennese dishes, but most of it is German. I especially liked the dense cream of cèpes soup and rich roasted duck with Savoy cabbage. The kitchen stays open until 11:30 p.m. $55. Französische Strasse 25, 20-375-1850;
fax 20-375-1859.

BORCHARDT The columned and high-ceilinged room, the lively crowd, and the restaurant's well-executed menu—featuring grilled fish and meat, plus a few pasta dishes—seemed right out of Manhattan's TriBeCa. The one drawback here was the generally negligent service—the diners on either side of my table got up from their tables to search for their waiters because everything took so long. But those who flock to Borchardt to see and be seen— many of them members of the Berlin media—don't seem to care, just like TriBeCa. $85-$155. Französische Strasse 47; 20-387-110;
fax 20-387-150.

GUY Cool and modern, patronized by models but also by grandmothers in minks, this new Gendarmenmarkt spot specializes in fish presentations, such as a densely flavored turbot with shrimp on tomato fettuccine and local perch on a bed of red beets. Plus some of the most helpful service I had anywhere. $100-$145. Jägerstrasse 59-60; 20-942-600; fax 20-942-610.

NEWTON BAR Not Isaac but Helmut, the renowned German-born photographer who made his reputation with his pictures of women, particularly nudes. One of his most famous series—"Big Nudes"—covers the back wall of this clubby establishment, which draws a good-looking professional crowd. Charlottenstrasse 57; 20-612-999; fax 20-295-425.

OPERNCAFE Cafè Mohring has more locations, Café Kranzler is flashier, but the best Konditorei (cakes and pastry) in town are served in this gracious tearoom in the 18th-century Opernpalais. Unter den Linden 5; 20-268-3; fax 20-444-38.

VAU The first restaurant to be awarded a Michelin star in former East Berlin, Vau is the toughest table to get in town. Chef Kolja Kleeberg has a creative, light touch, fusing a market-menu approach of German basics with French/Mediterranean influences. That translates to dishes such as a delicate octopus carpaccio contrasted with potatoes, caviar, and cream; a tender lobster with seasonal beans and bacon; a juicy, perfectly cooked pigeon with truffles. Such dishes, along with the sleek design—warm wood paneling, modern paintings, black leather banquettes, black marbleized columns—draw crowds of international businesspeople, like the multinational group holding a testimonial dinner the night we visited. They outnumbered individual diners, who had no choice but to listen to the speeches. Not to appear rude, we applauded as well. $135. Four-course menu for one, $75; seven-course menu, $120. Good deal: the lunch menu, which offers every course for DM20, about $10.
Jägerstrasse 54-55; 20-297-30; fax 20-297-311. Read more about Chef Kolja Kleeberg in an article from Travel & Leisure

Sights

BERLINER DOM Modeled on St. Peter's in Rome—but possessing none of the basilica's monumental grace—the Berlin Cathedral was built by Kaiser Wilhelm II at the turn of the century. The underground vault is now undergoing restoration, but there are several gilded crypts of the Prussian royal family, the Hohenzollerns, on view in the church itself. Am Lustgarten 1.

BRANDENBURG GATE Berlin's best known monument marks the beginning of Unter den Linden. The gate was commissioned by Frederick William III, built between 1789 and 1791 by Carl Gotthard Langhans, and topped with a four-horse Quadriga by Johann Gottfried Schadow. The Berlin Wall ran right in front of the gate. Pariser Platz.

BEBELPLATZ This square, on Unter den Linden just before the Staatsoper, contains an eloquent memorial to the Nazi bookburning that took place here on May 10, 1933: a below-ground room lined with empty bookcases. You see it through a window set in the pavement. Best visited at night.

CHECKPOINT CHARLIE The decaying watchtower is about all that's left to indicate that this was a hot spot during the Cold War, one of the major border crossings. The Museum Haus am Checkpoint Charlie displays the ingenuity used by East Berliners to escape to the West. Exhibits are sometimes gimmicky and can be mobbed but are worth seeing. $4. Friedrichstrasse 43-45; 253-725-0.

STAATSOPER UNTER DEN LINDEN Commissioned by Frederick the Great and constructed between 1741 and 1743 for Prussia's Royal Court Opera, the Staatsoper was destroyed by bombing during World War II. This building, a faithful re-creation, dates from 1955.
Unter den Linden 5­7;
20-354-555; fax 20-354-483.
Click here for more info
www.staatsoper-berlin.org

TELEVISION TOWER The exclamation point of the Berlin skyline, the tower was inaugurated with great fanfare by the East German government in 1969 as a symbol of its technical prowess. The view from the top is stupendous. Alexanderplatz.

FRIEDRICH WERDERSCHE KIRCHE The neo-gothic brick church, designed by Karl Friedrich Schinkel in 1824, is now an unusual but effective showcase for statues by him and other sculptors because of the light diffused by stained-glass windows. $2.
Werdersche Markt; 20-905-555.
Click here for more info
www3.bk.tudelft.nl

GENDARMENMARKT A trio of buildings make up this square: French and German cathedrals flank the Konzerthaus Berlin, designed in 1818-21 by Schinkel. Heavily damaged by bombs during World War II, all three have been expertly restored. The French cathedral houses a museum devoted to the history of the Huguenots, while the German cathedral contains a German-history museum. The Konzerthaus is a popular concert venue, particularly for performances by the Berliner Sinfonie Orchester.

NEUE SYNAGOGE Damaged heavily during Kristallnacht (the Nazi-sponsored pogrom in 1938), and then nearly destroyed during World War II, this synagogue was fully restored in 1995. It now houses an exhibition of Jewish life prior to the war. But the architecture itself is the main attraction—particularly the richly patterned facade and the extravagantly gilded Moorish dome.
Oranienburger Strasse 28­30.
Click here for more info
www.cjudaicum.de

ZEUGHAUS This ornate former arsenal, completed in 1706, now houses the German History Museum. While the Baroque structure undergoes restoration, its collections are displayed across the street in the Kronprinzenpalais. Unter den Linden 2.
CLick here for more info
www.dhm.de

Shopping

LEVEL CLAUDIA SKODA Berlin certainly has no shortage of fashion designers catering to the young, edgy, experimental market. Claudia Skoda was the only one we found turning out elegant garments. Her handsome handloomed knits are made of boiled wool, which makes them very soft and also lightweight—perfect for traveling. But they look best on trim bodies, although not necessarily young ones. "My customers are eighteen to eighty," Skoda says. "I love it when older women walk out wearing my clothes." Designs can be customized. Coats, $900-$1,100; dresses, $300-$750; sweaters, $175-$300. Linienstrasse 156; 280-721-1; fax 283-901-78. (Skoda also has a boutique, Skoda Attendants, at Kurfürstendamm 50.)

D DRIADE An outpost of the famous Italian housewares company. Of particular interest are the glass designs of Czech artist Borek Sipek.
Rosenthaler Strasse 40-41;
285-287-20; fax 285-287-22.
For more info on Borek Sipek click here
www.ajeto.com/sipek.htm

FRIEDRICHSTRASSE The luxury shopping scene along Mitte's most fashionable street is newly minted—its instant respectability derived from a lineup of familiar international names: Etro, Escada, Donna Karan, and Galeries Lafayette among them. Quartier 206 (at Friedrichstrasse 71), an upscale mall designed by Pei, Cobb, Freed & Partners and the namesake department store within it, is a Berlin version of New York's Barneys. (The fact that no local designers are shown is a comment on Berlin's fledgling fashion scene.) One store worth looking into is Out of Asia on the lower level, for its good selection of tableware and furniture, both original and reproduction.

KPM KONIGLICHE PORZELLAN MANUFAKTUR, BERLIN GMBH This is the newest outlet of the Royal Porcelain Manufacturing Company, founded in 1763. The beautiful, hand-painted pieces on display are produced at the factory at Wegelystrasse 1, near the Victory Column. Unter den Linden 35; 390-092-04; fax 390-093-11.

KUNSTQUARTIER A new cooperative of 11 top art and antiques dealers. Of note: Volker Westphal and Asta von Bethmann-Hollweg, who deal in silver—some of it from Prussian royal family collections—and 18th- to 19th-century paintings, furniture, and objets; and Kunsthandel Faehte, a specialist in pre-Colombian art and Berliner Eisen, the cast-iron jewelry and objets produced here between 1790 and 1848. During the Napoleonic Wars these pieces were given to women in exchange for turning over their gold and silver for the war effort. Some of the decorative pieces were designed by Schinkel, and the jewelry in particular is increasingly valuable and hard to find.
$ Markgrafenstrasse 35; 204-554-44.

TOOLS & GALLERY Balenciaga and Alexander McQueen headline a roster of international designers here. But the store itself is worth seeing for the 1863 stairway at the back, which had been walled up for decades and was discovered only when the space was renovated in 1995. Rosenthaler Strasse 34-35; 285-99-43;
fax 285-99-45.

Tiergarten

Restaurants

DACHGARTEN RESTAURANT Great view, terrible food, impossible to get into. That is what I had heard about this café in the dome of the Reichstag. The first two are true, the third almost. In fact, a well-connected concierge can get you in, and there is good reason for doing so: You skip the long lines to get into the dome itself. My advice: Come for breakfast, the meal least susceptible to ruin. $60. Platz der Republik; 226-299-33; fax 226-299-43. (Note: Access is through the handicapped entrance, to the right of the main entrance.)

FIRST FLOOR The garish Europe Center, one of those office-shopping-hotel complexes West Berlin built to trumpet the virtues of Capitalism, is the last place you would expect to find a Michelin one-star restaurant. Ignore the shrill lighting and overly marbled lobby and climb the curving stair to the first floor and First Floor.

The dining room is completely paneled in rosewood (polished so highly that the chandeliers are reflected in it) and has a rather wild floral-motif glass ceiling, which made me worry about the quality of the food. But it turned out to be excellent—especially the fish dishes. The flavors were clear, clean, and intense, the sauces subtle, the cooking light. Service was formal but attentive, and the wait staff knowledgeable about the menu. You just have to let the expense-account feel of the place fade into the background. $135-$195. Budapester Strasse 42; 250-210-20; fax 250-211-97.

MENSA The name refers to the dining facilities at German universities; however, if anyone is studying here, it must be other chefs trying to duplicate chef-owner Markus Semmler's success. One of the "Young Wilds"—the cultural leaders of the New Berlin—Semmler isn't known for modesty. But he doesn't have to be, given the quality of his menu and the nightly crowd of well-dressed Berliners packing this beige, candlelit, sophisticated room. Semmler is a master at coordinating vivid flavors, as demonstrated by dishes such as a salad of lobster and wild herbs in a shallot-sauternes vinaigrette, braised duck with sweet-potato cream and marinated red cabbage, gratinéed figs with honey-rosemary ice cream. (But he's not perfect: The roast filet of dorade on artichokes and tomatoes with burgundy sauce was basically a dry, oversalted fish.) Still, when Semmler's on his game, which is most of the time, this is one of the best meals in town. $105-$150. Am Lützowplatz 5; 257-993-33;
fax 890-915-70.
Click here for homepage of Chef Markus Semmler (in German)
62.180.80.131/mitglieder/markus.htm

Sights

BAUHAUS-ARCHIV BERLIN A small but select display of furniture, ceramics, sculptures, and objects created in the Bauhaus workshop from 1919 to 1933, including one of Marcel Breuer's tubular steel chairs and a reconstruction of László Moholy-Nagy's Light Space Modulator. The building, designed by Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius, is well worth a visit on its own. $2.50. Klingelhöferstrasse 14; 254-002-0.
click here for more info
www.bauhaus.de

HAMBURGER BAHNHOF This former railway station, converted at huge cost, shows the contemporary Berlin mania for converting historic buildings into museums—no matter how mediocre the contents (in this case, contemporary art). There are works by Warhol, Rauschenberg, Twombly, and a host of lesser names. Our opinion: It was probably a better building with trains. Invalidenstrasse 50-51; 397-834-0.
click here for more info
www.goethe.de

INFO BOX This museum on stilts, set up to document the Potsdamer Platz development, has become a contemporary classic. It contains biographies of the architects, technical explanations of the construction process, and a scale model of the city center as it will appear when the last nail is hammered in. The viewing balcony makes a fine spot to get an overview before going over to Potsdamer Platz itself. Leipziger Platz 21; 226-624-0; fax 226-624-20.
click here for more info
www.infobox.de

PHILHARMONIE The home of the Berlin Philharmonic stands out just for its unusual architecture, especially the circus-tent-like roof sheathed in gold-anodized aluminum. But the architect, Hans Scharoun, clearly knew something about sound: The acoustics are extraordinary. Herbert von Karajan Strasse 1; 254-881-32; fax 254-881-35.
click here for more info
www.berlin-philharmonic.com

THE REICHSTAG The dome is the draw. Get here early though. Lines to get in are long. Or come in the early evening, when the tour buses have gone. Cupola hours:
8 a.m.-midnight. Platz der Republik.
click here for more info
www.reichstag-info.de

SIEGESAULE This 203-foot-high Victory Column was erected in 1873 to commemorate Prussia's defeat of Denmark in 1864, of Austria in 1866, and France in 1870-71, victories that resulted in the unification of Germany. It is decorated with gilded cannon barrels captured during those wars. The monument looks right at home in the middle of the Tiergarten, so who would guess that the statue actually started out across from the Reichstag and was put here only in 1939 by the Nazis? The column is topped with a gilded allegorical figure, which will be familiar if you have seen Wim Wenders' Wings of Desire. For those with the energy to climb to the top (285 steps) there's a spectacular panorama. Grosser Stern Square.

Charlottenburg

Restaurants

PARIS BAR Every city has its art-scene café, and this is Berlin's—a hangout decorated with old movie posters (Ben Gazzara and John Huston films), paintings and collages from artist patrons, ceiling and walls the color of pumpkin pie. It's snooty and smoky and noisy—and the food is mediocre. But the people-watching is good. Our advice: Go for a drink after gallery-hopping in the area. $10-$50. Kantstrasse 152; 313-805-2; fax 313-281-6.

Sights

BERGGRUEN COLLECTION In 1936 Heinz Berggruen fled from the Nazis to America, where his passion for art, which was to turn him into a top art dealer and collector, began. Sixty years later Berggruen donated his private collection to this new museum. (See Departures, November/December 1998.) Every piece is a masterwork. The majority (80) are by Picasso; other artists well represented include Klee, Van Gogh, Giacometti, Cezanne, and Matisse. Schlossstrasse 1; 326-958-0;
fax 326-958-19.

BRÖHAN-MUSEUM An exquisite collection of Jugendstil, Art Nouveau, and Art Deco furniture and objets. $3. Schlossstrasse 1a; 326-906-00; fax 326-906-26.

EGYPTIAN MUSEUM Within a few years the contents of this museum will be absorbed by the Pergamon. But in the intimate setting of this small museum, the famous bust of Queen Nefertiti seems even more remarkable. Schlossstrasse 70;
209-055-55; fax 209-055-02.
Click here for more info
www.smb.spk-berlin.de

KAISER WILHELM MEMORIAL CHURCH This 19th-century neo-Romanesque church was badly damaged during the war. The ruined west tower and part of the nave were left standing as a reminder to future generations, and in 1961 a new, ultramodern church and tower attached to them. The ruined tower is known locally as the hollow tooth; the modern addition is almost universally disliked. Breitscheidplatz.

KÄTHE-KOLLWITZ-MUSEUM No one who is familiar with Kollwitz's stark charcoal drawings and sculptures depicting the downtrodden can miss the irony that her museum is located in a beautiful little building on a prime luxury shopping street. Nevertheless, the location doesn't at all diminish the power of her art. $4. Fasanenstrasse 24; 882-521-0; fax 881-190-1.

SCHLOSS CHARLOTTENBURG Queen Sophie Charlotte wasn't a woman of simple tastes. This vast castle, built for her in 1695, is the only royal palace in which all the kings of Prussia lived or resided at one point. Successive royal residents through the late 19th century embellished it and made it into the Baroque/rococo bazaar it is today. Don't miss the Porcelain Chamber (every inch is packed with antique Chinese pieces) and Frederick the Great's contribution, the New Wing. Its highlights: the opulent White Hall, Golden Gallery, and Watteau paintings. Also on the grounds: a stately Baroque garden and the Belvedere pavilion, showcasing vintage porcelain, including Frederick Wilhelm II's dinner service. $5 for all rooms. Luisenplatz; 320-911.
Click here for more info
www.berlin-charlottenburg.de

On and Around Savignyplatz

ART + INDUSTRY This store features the best of 20th-century German industrial design, including Weimar ceramics, Wagenfeld tea sets, 1920s silver, Bauhaus furniture, and collections of silver jewelry and wristwatches from 1910 to 1970. Prices run from $35 for a Wagenfeld glass egg cooker to $3,200 for a 1931 wood-and-steel desk. Bleibtreustrasse 40 (entrance on Mommsenstrasse); 883-494-6; fax 887-296-70.
Click here for more info (in German)
www.antiques-online.de

ASTORIA For 20 years Harry and Cordula Wiesner have been selling beautiful Art Deco jewelry, furniture, and tabletop objects, some of it imported from Paris. Pieces range from a $25 cocktail glass to a $14,000 1928 walnut sideboard inlaid with silver. Bleibtreustrasse 42; phone/fax 883-818-1.

TREYKORN
Sabine and Andreas Treykorn showcase 40 or so jewelry artisans—all of whom make bold art jewelry. Among the standouts the day I visited: sculpted silver rings by Dagmar Stühler and a platinum-and-gold bracelet by Giovanni Corvaja so delicate it looked like spun sugar. Pieces range from $250 to $20,000. Savignyplatz 13-Passage; phone/fax 312-427-5.

ULRICH GRONERT The top dealer for vintage pieces from the Königliche Porzellan Manfaktur, including rare pieces from the 1820s. Gronert also has Art Nouveau furniture, such as a remarkable five-piece set designed by Eugene Gaillard featured at the 1900 Paris Exposition ($620,000), as well as 18th- and 19th-century silver. 1 Giesebrechtstrasse 10; 882-368-6; fax 891-61-92.

On and Around Fasanenstrasse

ASIATISCHE KUNST G. VENZKE For Asian antiquities. A typical selection: three early Tang Buddhist statues ($75,000), a Soong-dynasty Kwan Yin head ($32,500), and two Han-dynasty horses ($70,000) in prime condition.
$ #71; 883-611-7; fax 883-773-2.

SEIDEL U. SOHN
Berlin's oldest antiques shop, founded in 1905, is a treasure trove of Prussian antiques, Fabergé; objets, and European faïence. Items include an intricately carved, mid-18th-century, tall-case clock in mahogany and cedrela ($142,500) and a gilded, marble-topped, 18th-century console table produced in Berlin ($33,700). #70; 882-162-1; fax 885-161-1.

BREEDE
Ulf Breede is a specialist in Art Deco, Retro, and some Egyptian-Revival jewelry. The day I was there, Breede had a stunning 1920s rock crystal and diamond clip by Georges Fouquet ($55,000). $69; 886-831-23;
fax 886-831-24.

Wilmersdorf

Hotels

HOTEL BRANDENBURGER HOF Relais & Châteaux's sole representative in Berlin, this turn-of-the-century mansion has a convenient setting on a quiet street south of the Europa Center. The 82 rooms are done in spare but elegant Bauhaus decor; however, most are are small, and none are air-conditioned. A nice touch for runners: Chef Wolfgang Nagler will accompany you on a jog, pointing out the best spots in town. Go for one of the four suites. $180-$390. Eislebener Strasse 14; 214-050; fax 214-051-00. Reservations: 800-735-2478.
Click here for more info
www.brandenburger-hof.com

Restaurants

DIE QUADRIGA This one-star restaurant in Hotel Brandenburger Hof was almost wonderful. Chef Wolfgang Nagler composes beautiful dishes, like the mosaic of John Dory and lobster with confit of aubergine and prosciutto di Parma, quail with creamed spinach and white truffles, roast hare with wine sauce. However, the food looked better than it tasted. The John Dory and lobster were flavorless and bound together in a flavorless aspic; the quail was straightforward to a fault, even with white truffles; the hare was tough and lacked flavor. Plus I had to send back both the quail and hare for additional cooking since they were well short of rare. I much preferred the roast goose I ordered from the room-service menu of Der Wintergarten, the hotel's casual restaurant. It was crisp, juicy, delicious, and not the slightest bit greasy. I'll pick flavor over presentation anytime. $130-$170. 214-056-50; fax 214-053-00.
click here for more info on Die Quadriga
click here for more info on Der Wintergarten

Shopping

Around Wittenbergplatz

ADELBERT STAHLMACH The items on display in the front room of this antiques store are sufficiently extraordinary—a perfect mahogany Berlin School breakfront, ca. 1820 ($37,500), a 19th-century Swedish crystal and gold chandelier ($42,500), an 1825 mahogany sofa with acorn inlay ($14,000.) But the real treasures are in a room behind the inner courtyard. The day I was there the choices were spectacular: a secretary—created for the Prussian Royal Palace on September 5, 1803—of mahogany with cedar and acorn marquetry and marble, ebony, and gilded bronze accents ($160,000); and a set of six early-19th-century gilded wood chairs with carved eagle wings and heads along with a matching setee from the house of a Russian aristocrat ($300,000).
$ Eisenacher Strasse 119; 215-209-1; fax 215-209-2.

OLAF LEMKE A master restorer of antique frames, Lemke has some 2,500 frames from the 15th to the mid-19th century, in styles ranging from Biedermeier to Renaissance and price from $500 to $33,000.
$ Eisenacher Strasse 7; 211-208-7; fax 213-927-2.

ALTKUNST A potpourri of 18th- to 20th- century items, including 19th-century Bohemian glass chandeliers ($4,000) and 19th-century Baroque oak dressers ($14,000), a sprinkling of Berliner Eisen (ironware), and beautiful Biedermeier pieces, including an inlaid birch secretary from 1820 ($14,000). Keithstrasse 8; phone/fax 211-934-4.

KADEWE The city's top department store, most famous for the sixth-floor food halls, an extravaganza of 33 restaurant counters and innumerable display cases full of gourmet items. My favorite site on my last visit: a marzipan model of the Reichstag, complete with the new dome. The German fine jewelry company Wellendorf just recently opened a boutique on KaDeWe's main floor. Tauentzienstrasse 21-24; 212-10.
click here for more info on www.kadewe.com

EBNER VON ESCHENBACH Kristian Ebner von Eschenbach learned a lot about Prussian antiques while working as an archivist in Schloss Sans Souci, Frederick the Great's Potsdam palace. Now he sells to the palace as well as to museums and collectors. His specialties: Berliner Eisen, including pieces designed by Schinkel; early-19th-century Prussian paintings; 19th-century chandeliers.
$ Eisenacher Strasse 8; 218-111-7.

Book Smart

The best guide to have in the new Berlin is someone who can make you see through the facades of both the new and the old buildings in order to understand why architecture is such a tinderbox subject here. Michael Z. Wise's Capital Dilemma does just that. The book, based on two years of extensive research and countless interviews, untangles the story behind the design of the capital's new architecture, seeing it as an evolving expression of national identity and political will. Wise's ambition is to answer the difficult question: "How will the official architecture of unified Berlin, a democratic capital built among totalitarian remains, be different this time around?" This book is the best preparation for a trip to Germany's new capital.
Click here for more info
www.papress.com

Behind Closed Doors

Private tours can be arranged of most state museums (including the Pergamon and Altes museums) when they are closed. Requests must be in writing to Prof. Dr. Peter-Klaus Schuster, Stauffenbergstrasse 41, Berlin 1078, Germany. One-month notice is encouraged but not necessary. Prices and availability are determined upon request. For further information, fax Ingrid Märtin: 266-299-2.

Guide for Hire

Nick Gay, a knowledgeable, opinionated Englishman who moved to Berlin in 1991, runs The Original Berlin Walks, a company specializing in historic walking tours. He's available for customized, individual tours, either general or themed sightseeing, for instance, Jewish Life in Berlin, Cabaret Berlin, Infamous Third Reich Sites. $130 for three hours by foot; $160 by car.
$ 301-919-4.

Vestiges of the Wall

The 93-mile-long Berlin Wall is virtually gone now. Here's where you can still see remnants.

  • On Niederkirchnerstrasse near Wilhelmstrasse, just east of Potsdamer Platz. A small stretch, but within walking distance of Gendarmenmarkt and the Info Box. Adjacent to the wall on the grounds of the former Gestapo headquarters is the Topography of Terror Museum. Exhibits describe both the history of the buildings and the crimes committed by the Gestapo and the SS, some on this very spot. Free admission. Niederkirchnerstrasse 8; 254-867-03. Closest U/S-Bahn station: Kochstrasse or Potsdamer Strasse.

  • Along the River Spree on Mühlenstrasse between Strasse der Pariser Kommune and Warschauer Strasse. This 4,290-foot-long stretch, known as the East Side Gallery, is the largest intact section, but as painted by a group of German and international artists, it hardly conveys its original impression. Closest U/S-Bahn station: Warschauer Strasse.

  • At the corner of Bernauer Strasse and Acker Strasse. Bernauer Strasse once formed the border between East and West Berlin. In fact, the buildings on the south side of the street were in East Berlin, the sidewalk in front of them and the street itself in West Berlin. Thus this was the scene of several dramatic escapes, which led the East Germans first to brick up the buildings, then to demolish them and construct the Wall. The extant stretch of it here has been partly restored, and two iron walls—symbolic of the Iron Curtain—have been constructed around it for protection.

Across the street the Documentation Center Berlin Wall, opened on November 9, 1999, presents newsreel footage and a cycle of 150 black-and-white photos projected on a screen tracing the construction of the Wall, its effects on the lives of East Germans, escape attempts, and its end on November 9, 1989. I intended to stay a few minutes but wound up watching the entire cycle. Much more affecting than the Haus am Checkpoint Charlie. Free admission. Bernauer Strasse 111; 464-103-0.

The Art Scene

"Berlin was always a city for intellectuals and artists," one informed observer explained, which accounts for the city's 300-plus galleries. The West/East split applies here, too, in terms of style: The more established artists exhibit in the West, the more experimental in the East. Here are the major galleries in both sections.

In The West, All In Charlottenburg:

Galerie Michael Haas/Galerie Haas & Fuchs
Niebuhrstrasse 5;
881-88-06;
fax 882-46-94.
click here for more info
www.germangalleries.com/Haas_Fuchs

Galerie Georg Nothelfer
Ulandstrasse 184;
881-44-05;
fax 881-86-10.
click here for more info (In German)
www.galerie.de

Galerie Pels Leusden/Villa Grisebach
Fasanenstrasse 25;
885-91-50;
fax 882-41-45.
click here for more info (In German)
www.berliner-galerien.de/gallery

Kunsthandel Wolfgang
Werner Fasanenstrasse 72;
882-76-16;
fax 881-53-87.
click here for more info (In German)
www.germangalleries.com

Galerie Nierendorf
Hardenbergstrasse 19;
832-501-3.

In The East, In Mitte:

Eigen + Art
Augustrasse 26;
280-66-05;
fax 280-66-16.
Click here for more info
www.eigen-art.com

A Unique Ritz-Carlton

Located in Grunewald, the leafy, villa-studded southwest corner of the city, the Ritz-Carlton Schlosshotel, Berlin $ is like none other in the company portfolio. It occupies a 1914 mansion given a $20 million makeover by designer Karl Lagerfeld between 1991 and 1994. The public rooms are imperial—a dining room with gilded carved plaster walls and crystal chandeliers, a lofty drawing room with red-silk walls, and a carved-wood staircase that's made for grand entrances.

Lagerfeld clearly had a field day doing the 54 rooms. My favorites are the Library Suite, the only suite with a fireplace, and the Kaiser Suite. The top pick, though, is the Lagerfeld Suite ($2,335), which is furnished with the designer's own Art Nouveau furniture, Czech artist Borek Sipek's Bohemian crystal designs, and an immense rose velvet bed.

Many think that it's too far from the center. But in fact, even in heavy traffic, it takes only 20 minutes or so to reach the Brandenburg Gate. By S-Bahn (the closest stop is a 10-minute walk) it's about 35 minutes. You have the feeling of staying in a luxury inn in the country; and in the summer you have a pool, garden, and outdoor dining terrace. $260- $2,850. Brahmsstrasse 10; 895-840; fax 895-84-803. Reservations: 800-241-3333.
Click here for more info
www.ritzcarlton.com

Museum Game Plan

"You have to remember . . . for decades we had two of everything," was one Berliner's explanation for the city's wealth of museums, 140 at last count, from the world-class Pergamon to obscure collections celebrating washing machines and dogs. That's one reason, but the other is the city's reverence for culture in all of its forms. It's easy to visit the six top museums, as they're clustered in two places. Museum Island holds the Pergamon, Altes, and Bode museums. (The Bode is closed until at least 2004 for restoration.) The Kulturforum in Tiergarten is the site of the Picture Gallery (Gemäldegalerie), Museum of Applied Art (Kunstgewerbemuseum), Museum of Prints and Drawings (Kupferstichkabinett), and the New National Gallery (Neue Nationalgalerie). If you plan to see more than one per day, buy a day ticket ($4), valid for all state museums. Another good deal is the three-day tourist ticket ($7.50), valid for the Pergamon, the Kulturforum museums, and several top smaller institutions. Here's what's on display.

On Museum Island

The Pergamon
The vast namesake Pergamon Altar (164-156 b.c.), excavated 1878-80 in Turkey, is the main attraction, along with the Ishtar Gate (580 b.c.) and the Market Door of Miletus. To prevent it from being destroyed, the door was enclosed by a wall during World War II. Nevertheless, it was heavily damaged and had to be painstakingly restored. 209-055-55; fax 209-055-02.

Altes Museum
Schinkel's imposing 1830 structure, a German hymn to classical Greece, houses an extraordinary collection of Greek and Roman antiquities. The most important pieces on display: the bronze statue The Praying Boy (300 b.c.) and Amphora (fifth century b.c.), by an anonymous Berlin painter. Also worth a look: the Hellenic silver room and the antique gold collection from Rhodes. 209-055-55; fax 209-055-02.
Click here for more info
www.smb.spk-berlin.de

In The Kulturforum

Gemäldegalerie
The new Picture Gallery, which opened in June 1998, contains 3,000 paintings from the 13th to the 18th century, the collection formerly split between the East and West. It rivals that of the Louvre or the Met. Among the most important: Albrecht Dürer's Portrait of Hieronymus Holzschuhes (Room 2), Rembrandt's self-portrait (Room 10), Vermeer's The Glass of Wine (Room 18), Watteau's The Dance (Room 21), Gainsborough's The Marshan Children (Room 20), and Giotto's The Entombment of Mary (Room 41). Matthäikirchplatz; 209-055-55; fax 209-055-02.
Click here for more info
www.smb.spk-berlin.de

Kunstgewerbemuseum
The Museum of Applied Art has three floors of treasures, dating from the Middle Ages to the present. Don't miss: The Guelf Treasure in Room I, such as the St. Elbertus altar, and in Room III the 1443 Reliquary from the Councillors' Silver of Lüneburg, composed of silver, gold, enamel, and semiprecious stones. Matthäikirchplatz; 209-055-55; fax 209-055-02.
Click here for more info
www.smb.spk-berlin.de

Kupferstichkabinett
The Museum of Prints and Drawings, another reunited collection, features about 520,000 prints and 80,000 drawings from the Middle Ages to the present, representing artists as diverse as Dürer, Picasso, and Rembrandt. Due to the delicacy of the collection, only 100 prints and drawings are shown at any one time. (Beginning April 15: 84 Botticelli drawings of Heaven and Hell.) However, visitors can request specific drawings at the study center. The most famous one, Dürer's drawing of his mother, is rarely available. But the second and third most in demand—Dürer's landscape with an iron mill and Rembrandt's 1633 drawing of his wife, Saskia—are usually available and are exceptionally beautiful. Matthäikirchplatz; 209-055-55; fax 209-055-02.
Click here for more info
www.smb.spk-berlin.de

Neue Nationalgalerie
Mies van der Rohe once described his aesthetic as one of "almost nothing," and he certainly proved it with this building, an elegant glass box that seems to float in place. It houses a fine collection of 19th- and 20th-century paintings; German and Austrian Expressionist works are the highlight of the collection. Potsdamer Strasse 50; 209-055-55; fax 209-055-02.
Click here for more info
www.smb.spk-berlin.de

About This Guide

Prices In U.S. dollars.
Hotel Prices For high-season, double occupancy, from the least expensive double to the most expensive suite.
Restaurant Prices For a three-course dinner for two, without wine or service.
Platinum Card Travel Service (PTS) or Centurion Travel Service (CTS)
For travel assistance, call 800-443-7672 (PTS) or 877-877-0987 (CTS). From abroad, call 623-492-5000 collect.

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Disclaimer: the information in this story was accurate at the time of publication in November 2001, but we suggest you confirm all details with the service establishments before making travel plans.