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Berlin’s Neue Synagoge (New Synagogue) was built between 1859 and 1866. It was the largest synagogue in Europe, with a capacity of 3,200 worshippers. It’s a beautiful building that was very unique for its time. It has a Moorish appearance, its architect having been inspired by the Alhambra in Granada, and has spectacular gilded domes that can be seen for some distance.
The New Synagogue has an important history. Jews in pre-WWII Germany were mostly well-integrated into Germany society. That ended abruptly with the rise of Nazis. The New Synagogue was damaged on Kristallnacht (November 9, 1938), when Nazis burned synagogues and destroyed the homes and businesses of Jews across Germany. The New Synagogue was damaged by fire on Kristallnacht but …
Situated on an island in the Spree River, Berlin’s Museum Island (Museumsinsel) is home to five world-renowned museums. The space is shared with Berlin’s great Cathedral, the Berliner Dom. In 1999, the Museum Island complex was declared a UNESCO World Heritage.
The five museums on Museum Island are:
1) Pergamonmuseum (Pergamon Museum):
Opened in 1930 — the last museum on the island to open but also perhaps the greatest of these museums. This museum alone attracts around one million visitors every year and is currently under refurbishment. Its collection includes the Pergamon Altar and Ishtar Gate.
Opened at the northern tip of the island in 1904 and with a renovation completed in 2005. It has an …
Berlin is an interesting and fun destination. Almost completely destroyed by bombs in World War II, it is mostly a newly rebuilt city, though with some interesting preserved historic sites. Economically the city is doing well and it has a young vibe because of its college and job scene.
While strolling through the city, I captured (as I always do), images of those signs caught my fancy in some way. These included:
(Click on thumbnails to enlarge)
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 …
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 …
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, …
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 …
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 …