Photograph by Stefano Amantini/Atlantide Phototravel/Corbis
Germany’s oldest zoo; gained worldwide fame in 2007 with birth of polar bear cub Knut. He joined some 14,000 other animals, including endangered rhinoceroses and ultra rare panda bears. Hardenbergplatz 8, Charlottenburg; tel. 49 30 254 010; fee. www.zoo-berlin.de
East Side Gallery
“An absolute must because there aren’t many original Berlin Wall remnants left.”—Andrea Steichele-Biskup. Longest section (0.75 mile or 1.3 kilometers) of the Berlin Wall still standing; open-air gallery since 1990 with 106 murals by artists from 21 countries. Mühlenstrasse between Oberbaumbrücke (Oberbaum bridge) and Ostbahnhof (eastern train station). www.eastsidegallery.com
Outstanding collection of European masters; more Rembrandts in one place than anywhere else in the world; in modernist Kulturforum culture complex near Potsdamer Platz. Tip: Use your ticket for free same-day admission to the other three Kulturforum museums. Matthäikirchplatz 8, Tiergarten; tel. 49 30 266 2951; fee.
Haus am Checkpoint Charlie
Engaging private museum brings alive political tensions of the Cold War with Berlin as its focal point; includes tales of spectacular escapes from East to West; adjacent to the famous border crossing itself. Friedrichstrasse 43-45, Kreuzberg; tel. 49 30 253 7250; fee. www.mauermuseum.de
“A moving, incisive exploration of Berlin’s Jewish history.”—Damien Simonis, author National Geographic Traveler: Berlin. Chronicles Jewish history in Germany going back to Roman days; spectacular star-shaped building by Daniel Libeskind. Lindenstrasse 9-14, Kreuzberg; tel. 49 30 2599 3300; fee. www.juedisches-museum-berlin.de
“Massive chunks of antiquity moved holus-bolus (all at once) to a burgeoning imperial capital.”—Damien Simonis. Pirate’s chest worth of treasure from ancient civilizations; highlights are Pergamon Altar, Ishtar Gate from Babylon, and Mshatta Facade, the caliph’s palace from Jordan; Unesco World Heritage site. Am Kupfergraben, Mitte; tel. tel. 49 30 266 3660; fee. www.smb.spk-berlin.de/smb/standorte/index.php?lang=en&p=2&objID=27&n=1&r=4
“A smorgasbord of international architectural creativity on the site of Berlin’s Cold War ground zero.”—Damien Simonis. New urban district where Berlin Wall once stood; theaters, hotels, bars, shops, and museums. Tip: Ride Europe’s fastest elevator to Panorama Punkt for bird’s-eye views. Panorama Punkt: Potsdamer Platz 1; tel. 49 30 2529 4372. www.panoramapunkt.de
Breathtaking views of both cityscape and elected officials from Norman Foster–designed dome atop 1894 German parliament building. “A perfect metaphor for how democracy should function.”—Chris Sandeman. Tip: Lines are shortest early in the morning and at night. Platz der Republik, Tiergarten; tel. 49 30 2273 2152. www.bundestag.de
Baroque Prussian royal palace with furnished rooms dripping with precious art and artifacts. Backed by a huge, romantically landscaped park with carp pond, various smaller palaces, and a mausoleum. Tip: Beat the crowds and come early, especially on weekends. Spandauer Damm 10-22, Charlottenburg; tel. 49 331 9694 200. www.spsg.de
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