Charlottenburg -- which lies just west of the Tiergarten -- contains enough attractions to easily fill an entire day; the area contains several museums as well as the royal apartments. After seeing the main sights, you can enjoy a ramble through Schlossgarten Charlottenburg. These formal gardens look much as they did in the 18th century. A grove of cypresses leads to a lake with swans and other waterfowl.
North of the palace stands the Mausoleum, which holds the tombs of King Friedrich Wilhelm II and Queen Luise -- sculpted by Rauch -- as well as several other interesting funerary monuments of the Prussian royal family.
Before the Wall went up, Mitte was the historic center of Berlin. It wasn’t called Mitte (or Center) until after reunification, when a massive urban readjustment shifted attention (and money) back to this historic area.
Mitte’s two main commercial thoroughfares are Friedrichstrasse and Unter den Linden. Laid out in 1647 and extending about 1km ( 3/4 mile) east from the Brandenburg Gate, Unter den Linden is one of Berlin’s most famous and historically significant boulevards. The name, which means “under the lindens,” came from the linden trees that were originally planted along the street. This boulevard is the oldest and royalest in central Berlin, with several monumental buildings and palaces from the 18th and 19th centuries. On it stands Humboldt University, a renowned seat of learning whose scholars and scientists, including Albert Einstein, have won some 29 Nobel prizes. A 19th-century equestrian statue of Prussian king Frederick the Great stands in front of the university. Friedrich Schinkel’s 1818 Neue Wache (New Guardhouse), which originally served as headquarters for the King’s Guard, is now dedicated to victims of war and tyranny and contains the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the Tomb of the Unknown Resistance Fighter, and the remains of a concentration camp victim; a powerful sculpture called “Grieving Mother” by the great German artist Käthe Kollwitz sits in the center of the otherwise bare room. Gendarmenmarkt, Berlin’s most beautiful square, lies just south of Unter den Linden. The Zeughaus (Armory), Berlin’s largest baroque building and the first (1706) major building to be constructed on Unter den Linden, houses the Deutsches Historisches Museum. The Staatsoper Unter den Linden, the oldest of Berlin’s three opera houses, is also located here. The giant Berliner Dom (Berlin Cathedral) squats at the end of Unter den Linden.
Museumsinsel (Museum Island), Berlin’s greatest collection of museums is just north of Unter den Linden. In historically and culturally rich Mitte you will also find several significant memorials, particularly the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, near the Brandenburg Gate at Cora-Berliner-Strasse 1 (www.holocaust-mahnmal.de) and the Gay Holocaust Memorial to Homosexuals Persecuted Under Nazism right across the street from it in Tiergarten park. Saving Money on Museumsinsel -- Each of the five museums here charges a separate admission, but if you are going to be visiting more than one museum on Museumsinsel over a 3-day period, consider getting a Museum Pass Berlin for 24€ adults, 12€ seniors and students. The Museum Pass, available at the central ticket kiosk on Museum Island, will get you into all five museums on Museum Island for 3 days, and into every other museum in Berlin as well. Another money-saving option is the 2-day Berlin Pass, which costs 79€ for adults and provides entry to 20 museums plus hop-off, hop-on busses.
The Heartbeat of Berlin -- The Potsdamer Platz Arcades contain 140 specialty shops, restaurants, and cafes, inviting you to shop and relax in a civilized urban atmosphere. One of the most visited attractions at the center is the Sony Center am Potsdamer Platz (tel. 030/2575500; www.sonycenter.de), with two cinemas -- the CineStar Multiplex and the CineStar IMAX 3-D. The 10-story office building offers a panoramic view that embraces the Philharmonie, the Kulturforum, and the Tiergarten. Around Marlene-Dietrich-Platz, prominent companies offer an entire range of leisure and entertainment facilities. They include the Berlin IMAX-Theater, the Stella Musical-Theater, the Grand Hyatt Hotel, the Madison City Suites, the Berlin Casino, and the Cine-Max cinema center.
The Historic Nikolai quarter
The historic Nikolaiviertel (U-Bahn: Klosterstrasse) was restored in time for the city's 750th anniversary in 1987. Here, on the banks of the Spree River, is where Berlin was born. Many of the medieval and baroque buildings in the neighborhood were completely and authentically reconstructed after World War II. Subsequently, some of the city's old flavor has been recaptured here.
The area is named for the Nikolaikirche (Church of St. Nicholas), Nikolaikirchplatz, off Spandauerstrasse (tel. 030/24724529). The church, the oldest in Berlin, was originally constructed in the 14th century on the remains of a 13th-century Romanesque church. The restored building now displays the finds of postwar archaeological digs; during the reconstruction, 800-year-old skeletons were found. It's open daily from 10am to 6pm. Admission to the church and tower is free.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.