Our tour begins at Pariser Platz in the shadow of the iconic Brandenburg Gate. Looking at this magnificent structure, we will discuss the city’s imperial past and hear some of the stories that have elevated this instantly recognizable gate to its symbolic status. As we continue through Berlin’s historic center, we’ll stop at key sites associated with the city, paying special attention to everything that can’t be seen. Relentlessly bombed during the Second World War and largely neglected during the years of the Berlin Wall, much of this area has only been reconstructed in the past two decades. We will also seek out examples of what one architectural historian has called the ghosts of Berlin--places where the many layers of history are visible alongside each other, from imperial ambition to Nazi terror and Communist rule. (For more in-depth explorations of these topics, take a look at our Berlin Nazi tour and Berlin Cold War tour.)
As our tour ends, we’ll have a better sense of this remarkable city and what may be in store for Berlin in the 21st century. Feel free to continue your exploration of the city on your own, either visiting the numerous world-class museums just around the corner, strolling to the nearby Hackesche Höfe for a good German meal or beer, or hopping on an S- or U-Bahn to visit another exciting part of the capital.
We do not offer a tour of the Reichstag Dome as standard, however, for clients booking a private walk we can work to arrange it. This requires extending the duration of the tour and does incur an additional fee. Please request this customization in the Trip Notes when placing an order. We will follow up with further details. There is no entry fee to the Dome, but visits need to be booked in advance and availability depends on a number of factors defined by the German governmental administration. Please note that for all Reichstag Dome bookings we require the full name and date of birth of all attendees, and all attendees need to bring their passport with them on the day in order to enter the Reichstag.
Our guides have the flexibility to craft their own narrative based on the major sights of Berlin's city center. Locations visited may include: the Brandenburger Tor, Reichstag, Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, former site of Hitler’s bunker, former Nazi chancellery, Berlin Wall fragments behind the former Reich Ministry of Aviation, Topography of Terror, Friedrichstrasse, Gendarmenmarkt (site of the Französischer Dom, Deutscher Dom and Konzerthaus), Bebelplatz, Opera House, Sankt-Hedwigs-Kathedrale, Unter den Linden, Lustgarten and Museum Island, Nikolaiviertel, Alexanderplatz and Hackescher Markt. For private walks, we are happy to customize the itinerary to include particular stops.
Yes. Because Berlin's city center is filled with important historical sites, especially from the period of World War II, both walks tread over similar ground, but using a different thematic lens. We suggest choosing between the two walks or booking a customized combination to cover both topics in-depth.
Yes, certainly! This walk can be booked on a private basis for any day, any time. In winter (November-February) it's better not to start later than 1:30-2:00 pm because it gets dark by 3:30-4:00 pm.
Christina is an East Berliner who was born in the GDR, a socialist republic that no longer exists. She danced on the Wall in 1989, and closely observed the restructuring of Germany and the frantic urban transformation of Berlin. At the European University Viadrina in Frankfurt (Oder) she earned an MA in cultural history and comparative social sciences, particularly the ideology-based history of the twentieth century. Her dissertation was on a more contemporary subject of "The Economic Impact of the Contemporary Art Scene on the city of Berlin." She now works as an arts administrator, manages urban development initiatives, and since 2006 routinely walks guests through the eclectic and varied political, cultural, and architectural histories of the German capital and beyond.
Heribert is a native Berliner whose family history can be traced as far back as the founding of the city. An expert in urban history, for more than twenty years he has been guiding interested crowds through the German capital and the surrounding Mark Brandenburg, letting the stone witnesses of passing time tell their stories while he enthusiastically revives old lifestyles and tastes. He studied sociology, history, and cultural anthropology at the Freie Universität Berlin. His professional experience is varied and far-ranging, including working as a freelance trainer for communication and intercultural education since 1982, and guiding tours since 1986. In the West Berlin borough of Wannsee he runs with his wife two fine cafés (including at the Max Liebermann Villa Museum) and a gourmet delicatessen, and he is well-versed in fine cuisine. With an anecdote for just about every historical detail, Heribert is the consummate companion for any and all learning adventures in this city.
Raised in New York City, Jan graduated from Williams College in 1985 with honors in the history of ideas and later went to the Harvard University Graduate School of Design to receive his MA in architecture in 1990. He has worked as an architect in Berlin since 1994. He has been a regular contributor to a wide range of publications, including The New York Times, the Harvard Design Magazine, the International Herald Tribune, Places Magazine, and the Architectural Record, writing chiefly about European architecture and urbanism. He teaches urban studies and sustainability at the IES Berlin Metropolitan Studies Program, and has served as an invited guest critic or lecturer at the Technische Universität in Berlin, the University of Warsaw Architecture School, and the Architectural Association in London. Jan is the Academic Director of the Northeastern University School of Architecture Berlin Program, where he also teaches two required seminars.
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