Our final day in Berlin, so after breakfast we checked out of our hotel but left our luggage to collect later in the day. Then it was on the train to Kreuzberg, and walking about 15 minutes to reach the Checkpoint Charlie Box. This famous landmark was the best known crossing point between East and West and was named Checkpoint Charlie by the Western allies. It was actually Checkpoint C. Located nearby is a small open air museum which lists successful and unsuccessful attempts to cross the border and the different methods tried. There is also a small piece of wall still in place here.
Next, it was back on the train again, this time to the Zoo station. We didn’t visit the zoo but instead the Kaiser Willheim Church. The cathedral, built in 1891 had been badly damaged in a bombing raid in 1943.
The damaged spire has been retained together with the ground floor with its intricately painted ceiling frescoes, and is now a memorial hall which is a famous landmark of West Berlin. Surrounding the old church, a new church was constructed in the 1960’s consisting of four buildings. The walls of the new church are made of a concrete honeycomb containing stained glass inlays. It looks strange from the exterior but spectacular inside.
It was time for coffee and cakes on the main shopping street, Kurfürstendamm then a look in two of Berlin’s smartest department stores. The first , Kaufhaus des Westerns known as KaDeWe, is the largest department store in continental Europe. It shared some similarities with Harrod’s in the UK. The second store, located nearby was Peek and Cloppenburg, selling high end clothing in a department store setting.
We rounded off our sightseeing with a visit to Alexanderplatz which was the largest square in the former East Berlin. Most of the square has now been rebuilt and is lined with shopping malls and stores such as Primark and H & M. It’s not the most attractive square in Berlin but worthy of a visit to appreciate its sheer magnitude.
It was time to return to our hotel to collect our luggage and then have a meal in the Hachescher Markt district before returning to Tegel airport for our BA flight back to London Heathrow.
This was our first visit to Berlin. A good city break destiination, public transport is efficient and it was very easy to visit the outlying districts of Charlottesburg, Spandau and Potsdam in addition to exploring the city centre itself.