Each year, just before the Christmas onslaught, we tend to go away. It is time for just the four of us. Last year we chose Cologne and thoroughly enjoyed the Christmas Markets there. Staying with that theme, this year we chose Berlin.
As I stepped off the plane at Schönefeld Airport I felt as if I might be coming down with something. During our time in Berlin I did come down with that something, and it was only as I got back into the plane to go home again that I felt as if I might be getting over that something. We did not quite visit everything we wanted to see in Berlin as a result. Still, we managed to see quite a lot.
On Day One we headed straight off to a couple of “must see” sites before the rain came down. We left our hotel in Aexanderplatz and walked two miles or so to the Brandenburg Gate. We walked through the Marx-Engels-Forum on the way and visited the statues of the two authors of The Communist Manifesto. Karl Marx is clearly a favourite resting place for weary tourists – see how his lap gleams with the high polish of people sitting there and posing for photographs!
A former city gate, the Brandenburg Gate was rebuilt as a Triumphal Arch in the 18th Century. It was the entrance to the Unter den Linden, which at one time led to the city palace of Prussian monarchs. Crowning the Gate is a quadriga, a chariot drawn by four horses and an emblem of triumph.
Napoleon led a procession through the Brandenburg Gate in 1806 after the defeat of Prussia. He took the quadriga to Paris, although it was restored to its rightful place in 1814. In 1933 Hitler and his brownshirts passed under it during a torchlight parade. In 1963 Kennedy gave his famous “Ich bin ein Berliner” from the Brandenburg Gate. Reagan, Clinton and most recently Obama have given speeches from its steps. The Brandenburg Gate stood in East Berlin when the Berlin Wall was erected just in front of it. It was one of the focal points of the Wall’s fall in 1989, and became a symbol of unification. It is one of the most well known landmarks in Germany and is saturated with history.
With so much history and power, I was slightly disappointed to find it standing somewhat silently on this grey day. A few people wandered around taking photographs; some men dressed up in the Cold War uniforms of East and West Berlin stood in a group and tried to attract tourists.
We swapped cameras with another tourist and took each others’ photographs. There is no doubt that the Gate is an impressive structure, and I imagine that when it is lit up at night with thronging crowds celebrating beneath it the atmosphere would be incredible. Alas, for us, on this day, it was a little on the quiet side.
Points on this part of the walk (copy and paste the co-ordinates into Google Earth):
- Statues at Marx-Engels-Forum: N 52° 31.122 E 013° 24.202
- Brandenburg Gate: N 52° 30.977 E 013° 22.670
Berlin Day 1 Walk Statistics (of which this post forms the first part):
- Date of Walk: 19 December 2013
- Total distance covered: 5.74 miles
- CLICK HERE FOR LINK TO INTERACTIVE MAP!!!