.All Trips / Europe / Germany

A Visit to Berlin’s famous Reichstag (Reichstagsgebäude)

01 Reichstag exterior

A Brief History of the Reichstag

When Germany first unified in the late 19th century, the need for a parliament building was apparent and a competition for the best design was held.  The winning entry for the Reichstag building was from Paul Wallot (there were 183 entries), and his beautifully designed building was completed in 1894.  It featured a neo-renaissance style with a grand classic entrance including columns and a broad staircase.  There was a crown atop of the building’s steel dome.  The famous inscription, ‘Dem Deutschen Volke’ (To the German People), was added in 1916 by Emperor William II.

The building was severely damaged by a fire in 1933, seen as an opportunity Hitler who used the incident to blame the …

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“Pic of the Week”, January 1, 2015: DRIVE. Volkswagen Group Forum, Berlin

09 Drive VW Forum

Despite some bad publicity recently, the Volkswagen company owns some very impressive car labels.  There’s much, much more to the company in the 21st century than the famous “beetle” — the people’s car — that drove its success in the 20th century.

When visiting Berlin a few months back, my brother and I walked down “Unter den Linden”, one of the city’s famous streets.  The street is a wide boulevard known for its lovely linden trees.  Apparently Hitler wanted to use the street for Nazi parades so he cut down all the linden trees and put up Nazi flags in their place.  The people protested and, in one of the few compromises Der Fuhrer ever made, replanted the trees.  They are …

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“Pic of the Week”, October 23, 2015: Oktoberfest, Alexanderplatz

05 Oktoberfest Alexanderplatz

Oktoberfest is an annual 16 day folk festival that runs from mid-September to the first weekend in October.  The largest gathering is in Munich, Germany, which is attended by more then six million people (who consume more than six million liters of beer).  It’s a beloved German tradition and has had been held for more than 200 years.  Other cities around Germany and the rest of the world have similar (albeit smaller) Oktoberfest celebrations.

My brother and I were in Berlin a few weeks ago and wandered through an Oktoberfest celebration in Alexanderplatz, in the former East Berlin region.  There was a band playing traditional music, and hundreds of people were enjoying a nice fall day, the company of their friends, …

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.All Trips / Europe / Germany

Cologne Cathedral — A UNESCO World Heritage Site

40a Cologne Cathedral

I first saw Cologne’s Cathedral on a train journey from Amsterdam to Heidelberg in the late 1990s.  It’s an imposing and immense Gothic structure situated adjoining the Cologne train station near the Rhine River. I recall the cathedral’s massive spires (157 m or 515′ tall) inspiring me to think,  “some day I’m going to visit that church”!  It took almost 15 years from that train trip to finally visit the Cathedral, but thanks to friends Bernd and Monika, my wife and I visited Cologne and its great cathedral recently.

Cologne Cathedral stands on the site of a 4th Century Roman ruin, and if you’ve time, there’s a fabulous Roman history museum immediately adjoining it that’s worth visiting.  A previous church …

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“Pic of the Week”. June 21, 2013. Cologne Cathedral, Germany

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The first time I saw Cologne’s Cathedral was on a train journey from Amsterdam to Heidelberg many years ago.  The Cologne train station is immediately adjacent to the cathedral and as the train crossed the Rhine I vividly recall seeing the cathedral’s massive spires (157 m or 515′ tall) and saying to myself,  “some day I’m going to visit that church”.

It took almost 20 years but thanks to friends Bernd and Monika, we had a chance to visit Cologne and its great cathedral last month.  The cathedral is classic Gothic and is Germany’s most visited landmark, averaging more than 20,000 visitors a day.  Its construction began in 1248 and proceeded in stages until it was finally finished in 1880.  The highlight …

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“Pic of the Week”. March 01, 2013. Dusk in Heidelberg, Germany

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One of many tragedies of war is that a country’s history and heritage are badly damaged, even destroyed.  Many of Europe’s cities were extensively ravaged by bombing and shelling in World Wars I and II, which is especially true of Germany.  These injured cities throughout Europe have been rebuilt but their historic charm is largely lost.

The beautiful small city of Heidelberg fortunately was spared the damage of the great wars because it was a university town without a manufacturing base, so it was not attacked.  It’s a beautiful city of about 150,000, still with a famous university, that I’ve had the privilege of visiting twice.  To gain the view seen in this photo I had to hike a while on the opposite …

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