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Berlin, Germany

Capital of a united Germany, Berlin, it's name probably comes from a word for island; its slight elevation made it a site for human settlement even in prehistoric times. Even with the heavy weight of history, Berlin on the surface is an undeniably vibrant, entertaining city. The latest building boom spurred on by its renewed role as capital of Germany is attracting a lot of attention. Berlin, which had been badly damaged during the war, was surrounded by East Germany and partitioned into East Berlin and West Berlin. The divided city symbolized the collapse of the German empire.

The might and scope of Prussian achievement is manifest in Berlin, one of the world's most fascinating and troubled cities. This is the heart of Germany, its stoic beat echoing through grand public buildings, glorious museums and theatres, and its urbane restaurants and studied-cool nightclubs. Today, the city is the focus of the mammoth project of reunification and readings of Germany's mood are taken most accurately here.

Berlin is a wide-ranging assemblage of monuments and museums. The Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, which oversees 14 state collections, is now taking on the daunting task of reuniting and reorganizing the city’s wealth of art and artifacts..

Berlin’s green heart, originally a hunting preserve for royalty (hence the hunting-themed statuary), the space was transformed by landscape architect Peter Joseph Lenne into a city park. Today it’s a popular haven for all Berliners, ranging from middle-class widows having a stroll to Turkish families enjoying a picnic to gay men playing volleyball. Boats can be rented on the lake called Neuer See. Nude sunbathing is permitted throughout the park. A huge tunnel for rail and car traffic is being built under the eastern part of the park.

Located next to the zoo, the aquarium claims to have the world’s largest collection of reptiles, insects and fish. Daily 9 am-5 pm. 12 DM adults, 10 DM students, 6 DM children ages 3-15. Combination ticket for zoo and aquarium available.

Domane Dahlem
A type of theme park and museum on the grounds of a former manor, focusing on Berlin’s agricultural history. Small farm animals, a blacksmith shop, an exhibit on bees and an organic produce market held on Saturday. Wednesday-Monday 10 am-6 pm.

Zoologischer Garden
One of the world’s largest zoos with nearly 14,000 animals (1,400 species). Opened in 1844, it’s the oldest zoo in Germany. Daily 9 am-5 pm. 12 DM adults, 10 DM students, 6 DM children ages 3-15. Combination tickets are sold for the zoo and the adjacent aquarium.

Erotic Musueam
Three floors of erotic art and objects, ranging from high art to low kitsch. More than 100 wooden phalluses from Java, Chinese scrolls and life-size statues of Rudolph Valentino and Marilyn Monroe are housed here.

German Museum of Technology
Documents the history of engineering and technology, with a quirky collection of machinery, household appliances, locomotives and navigational instruments. Kids can play with the interactive displays.

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