Berlin, Germany’s capital, dates to the 13th century. Reminders of the city’s turbulent 20th-century history include its Holocaust memorial and the Berlin Wall’s graffitied remains. Divided during the Cold War, its 18th-century Brandenburg Gate has become a symbol of reunification. The city’s also known for its art scene and modern landmarks like the gold-colored, swoop-roofed Berliner Philharmonie, built in 1963.
The former communist state might be different in 2016, but you can see exactly what it was like during those 40 years of DDR rule in this museum, which is also a house. Twice nominated as the European Museum of the Year, this incredible taster of the past lets you rummage through cupboards and drawers, be interrogated by the Stasi, get an insight into life in Socialist Germany, and appreciate your freedom like never before. You’ll even exit through a piece of the Berlin Wall.
Visit the Computer Museum
Ever wanted to try your hand at classics like The Pong-Machine, the Giant Joystick, Donkey Kong, Asteroids and Space Invaders? Of course you have, and you can get as hands-on as you want at Berlin’s Computerspielemuseum. Learn the history of games and their creators, tour with Lara Croft, meet Nimrod, witness working originals and say wow at over 300 games and computer-related items. The famous PainStation gives electric shocks when you mess up. Go on, I know you’re curious!
This UNESCO-listed World Heritage site in the middle of the Spree boasts some of Berlin’s most important museums, including the Neues Museum, proud home of an Ancient Egyptian bust of Nefertiti, and also the Pergamonmuseum, one of the world’s most important and impressive archaeological collections. The other half of Museum Island has a swimming pool, library and other everyday treasures. Make like a real Berliner and spend the day taking in the sights here in this central spot.
Demolished to the sounds of joy between June and November 1990, the Berlin Wall stood for a lot before it was knocked down. You can learn all about it on a restored stretch, which spans the southern border of Wedding and Mitte. At Checkpoint Charlie you’ll see what east-west border control was like during the Cold War – if you can picture it around the tourists. For more, walk along the Spree to the one-mile stretch known as the East Side Gallery.