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    Information about Berlin

    Centre of German politics and culture

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    Since the fall of the Iron Curtain and the end of division by the Berlin Wall, the city has experienced architectural and cultural renewal to become the epitome of a twenty-first century global metropolis: young, dynamic and international. But Berlin hasn’t ever denied its eventful history. Reflected in the steel and glass of the Reichstag’s cupola and in the postmodern shopping centres are opulent, historic buildings of the imperial era, alongside monuments and memorials of the post-war period.

    The reconstruction of the Prussian City Palace represents Berliners’ cosmopolitan sense of tradition at its very best: this year, behind the historic façades, the state-of-the-art Humboldt Forum is to become a meeting place for the world’s cultures and nations. Berlin’s creative and start-up scene also draws inspiration from this rich contrast; since 2006 the city has even been honoured with the title ‘UNESCO City of Design’.

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    Over 150 concert halls and theatres, three opera houses, 200 museums and art collections, 440 galleries displaying works by over 6,000 contemporary artists, and some of the world’s most popular nightclubs, including the Berghain and the Prince Charles, all vie for the attention of over 13 million visitors a year from all corners of the globe. As a crowd puller, the relatively new Berlinale, which takes place in 300 cinema auditoriums, now rivals the established European film festivals in Venice and Cannes. Meanwhile, music lovers are spoilt for choice by some of the best symphony orchestras and choirs in the world.

    The Museum Island, with its five monumental buildings, is not only a United Nations World Heritage Site, but also the centre of the most famous ‘Long Night of the Museums’, founded here in 1997 and replicated many times all over the world. There are plenty of memorable nights out to be had the rest of the year too: Berlin’s vibrant pub and café scene never sleeps, and there are nearly 5,000 restaurants, 900 pubs, 200 bars, countless allnight convenience stores (‘Spätis’) and more doner cafés than in Istanbul to be found in the diverse and distinctive neighbourhoods (‘Kieze’). During the festive season Berlin holds more Christmas markets than any other European city, before hosting the continent’s largest New Year’s Eve party, with a million visitors gathering between the Victory Column and the Brandenburg Gate to welcome in the New Year.

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    By day, Germany’s capital city is a centre of science par excellence. Over 40 universities and institutes of higher education – including some of Germany’s most famous schools of art, design and music – now attract more applicants than any other federal state. More than 190,000 students are currently registered in Berlin. In the 2019 nationwide Excellence Initiative, the ‘Berlin University Alliance’ comprising four of Europe’s most renowned institutes of higher education – the Humboldt University of Berlin (est. 1809), Freie Universität Berlin (est. 1948), Technical University Berlin (est. 1879) and the Charité University Hospital Berlin (est. 1710) – were once again recognised as German elite universities. The Berliner Charité is the largest medical faculty in Europe.

    The Berlin State Library, one of 84 public libraries, holds over 10 million printed volumes and is the largest scientific universal library in the German-speaking world.

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    Berlin is not only the European Union’s second largest city (nine times the size of Paris), but also its greenest. A third of Berlin’s total area consists of greenery, woodland and water. There are 440,000 trees lining the city’s streets and, together with 30,000 hectares of urban woodland, countless parks and public gardens – such as the Berlin Tiergarten Park and the Botanical Garden in Dahlem – they sustain the unrivalled and famed ‘Berlin air’. Nearby, two natural paradises, the Grunewald and Spreewald, are ideal for walking, camping, swimming and sailing.

    Tegel and Schönefeld airports offer convenient international connections to the city, as do the many reasonably priced long-distance buses that depart regularly from the central bus station (ZOB) en route to other European destinations.


     
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