Berlin: 5 museums on an island

Berlin was one of the first European cities I visited. I remember, as soon as I got off the Berlin Hbf (main train station), I was so excited with all the spaces, urban planning, architectures and colours of this vibrant city!

berlin germany
Berlin main train station

Getting around

Berlin (and Germany in general) has one of the best public transportation systems in Europe, albeit a bit pricey. Getting around Berlin, you can take bus, tram or trains.

trams germany
Trams in Germany

CAUTION: Be extremely cautious when crossing tram tracks! You don’t want to get ran over by a tram!

The most efficient mode of transport is by train/ metro. There are two very different train systems, i.e. S-bahn and U-bahn. You can easily identify them from afar.

berlin train germany
Berlin S-bahn, and U-bahn

The U-bahn is the underground metro (the like of London’s tube), while the S-bahn runs mostly above ground, and can reach suburbs.

What to do

Join a free walking tour! I learned so much insights of the city.

The Berlin Cathedral (German: Berliner dom) stands majestically on the Museum island.

Neue Wache (New Guardhouse), is now the Memorial for the Victims of War and Tyranny. Inside, there’s one sculpture of a mother holding her dead son. Our tour guide explained to us that the oculus (circular skylight) on top, exposes her to all weathers (rain or shine), symbolising the suffering of civilians during World War II. 

Holocaust memorial berlin germany
Holocaust memorial

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Holocaust memorial (Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe) is a 19,000 m2 site with 2,711 concrete slab, on a sloping field. This was quite an emotional experience for me. Our tour guide explained to us the different interpretations of this installation. Some said it symbolises tombstones in a graveyard. Some explained that the varying dimensions of the concrete slabs symbolises the different profiles of those persecuted. My personal experience, as I walked through the installation, in between the concrete slabs, up and down the slopes, I felt helpless, and lost. And that, for me, is the worst feeling ever! I hope this Holocaust memorial will forever remind us of this very tragic and inhumane incident, and to NOT repeat history ever!

brandenburg gate berlin germany
Brandenburg gate

The Brandenburg gate is one of my favourite monuments in all of Europe. It is especially grand and beautiful at night!

hotel aldon berlin germany
Hotel Aldon

Hotel Aldon (to the left of Brandenburg gate) is the famous hotel where Michael Jackson held out his baby from the top balcony, Lion King style.

Bebelplatz berlin germany
Bebelplatz

Bebelplatz, the plaza where one of my the many Nazi books burning ceremonies were held.

If you like visiting museums, you should do the Museumsinsel (Museum island), which consists of 5 museums on an island.

museumsinsel berlin germany
Museumsinsel miniature
  • Altesmuseum (Old museum), which houses antiquities collection
  • Neues museum (New museum), which exhibits Egyptian artefacts, mummies, and the infamous Nefertiti bust
  • Alte Nationalgalerie (Old National Gallery), which houses a good collection of fine arts from Monet, Degas, and German architect and painter, Schinkel
  • Bode museum, which exhibits sculptures and Byzantine arts
  • Pergamon museum, which has several reconstructed significant buildings, e.g. Pergamon altar, and the Ishtar gate of Babylon
altes museum berlin germany
Altes museum

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Our tour guide told us that this big basin (made of one single piece of granite) was originally intended inside the museum, as a big fountain. However, they finished the pillars in front of the Altes Museum before they can even move it inside. Talk about bad project management.

neues museum berlin germany
Neues museum’s Egyptian artefacts
Alte Nationalgalerie berlin germany
Alte Nationalgalerie

The fine arts collection in Alte Nationalgalerie is amazing! With lots of Degas, and Schinkel.

Pergamon museum altar berlin germany
Pergamon altar in the Pergamon museum
bode museum berlin germany
Bode museum

Of course, you shouldn’t miss the Berlin wall.

berlin wall germany
Berlin wall
emmanuel pahud berlin philharmoniker germany
Emmanuel Pahud and Jerm

And at last, if you are a classical music fan like me, you want to check out the Berlin Philharmoniker. And if you are lucky like me, you may just get to take a photo with your favourite musician!

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