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Running in Berlin: the Bear-ling city

Updated: Jul 28, 2021

From Museum Island to Alexanderplatz to the Brandenburg Gate, running through Berlin will take you through seven centuries of German history. From the Brandenburg Electorate to the fall of the Wall, every street corner in the city center recalls a significant event.

To run in Berlin is to admire its skyline, including the Alexanderplatz tower and the Berlin basilica
Berlin's skyline.

Founded in the 13th century, Berlin is a leading cultural and artistic city in the world. It is crossed by several rivers and canals, dotted with parks and lakes, and boasts a wealth of old and classical architecture. The city has developed from its historical center, the Nikolaiviertel, and the absorption of neighboring towns.

Because of this decentralized development, visiting Berlin will be exciting both in its center and in its periphery.

The bear is the heraldic animal of the city and its main emblem. Some trace its history back to Albert I the Bear, conqueror and founder of the Brandenburg March. However, in the name "Berlin" one can hear "Bär - lein", the "little bear". It is more likely, however, that the name of the city derives from the Slavic word berl , meaning marsh, and that the plantigrade was associated with the German capital as a result.

Around the Brandenburg Gate

A major landmark on your cultural tour will probably be the Brandenburg Gate, erected in the 18th century. It is located at the entrance to old Berlin and was for almost three decades the symbol of the division of the city, as it was part of the Berlin Wall.

Walking to the foot of the Brandenburg Gate is the traditional first step of a visit to Berlin.
The Brandenburg Gate.

During their official visits to West Berlin, several Western leaders, such as President Kennedy in June 1963, made speeches in front of the gate. On these occasions, the GDR authorities had flags of the East German state or red cloths placed between the pillars of the monument. It became a symbol of reconciliation when, on December 22, 1989, the wall was reopened at its level, in front of a crowd of 100,000 people gathered to celebrate reunification.

Memorial to the murdered Jews of Europe.
Memorial to the murdered Jews of Europe.

Not far away, on the way to the Potsdamer Platz, stands the memorial to the murdered Jews of Europe. Opened in May 2005, it commemorates the victims of the Holocaust.

Beneath the memorial is a permanent exhibition presenting the stories of persecuted families.

The Spreeinsel

From there, towards the Museum Island, a monumental complex located on the northern half of the Spreeinsel, you will run along Unter den Linden, the city's main thoroughfare. The Spreeinsel is an island located between the Spree and the Kupfergraben. Its center was once occupied by the Berlin Castle, demolished in 1950 to be replaced by the Palace of the Republic, built under the communist regime and itself razed in 2008.

A visit to the reconstructed Berlin Castle allows you to discover the Humboldt Forum, which is the brand new museum on the Spreeinsel.
The Berlin Castle, rebuilt identically.

In 2020, the Humboldt Forum was inaugurated, a reconstruction of the original

castle which houses a museum, which you will also discover during your visit. Due to the pandemic, it was only possible to visit it in virtual form.

However, in July 2021, the resurrected castle finally opens its doors to the public.

You can now visit Berlin Castle from a cultural perspective. But also one of the five other state museums on the Museum Island, which also houses the Berlin Cathedral and the Lustgarten, the former castle park, making it a perfect place to run around and admire the city's immense cultural heritage.

Checkpoint Charlie

You can also walk towards the famous Checkpoint Charlie, where the West Berlin military guardhouse still stands in the middle of the road. During the Cold War, this checkpoint was reserved for the passage of foreigners, diplomatic personnel and prisoner exchanges. Its fame comes from the fact that it was the obligatory point of entry to the GDR for Western vehicles.

Berlin, which became the capital of Germany again in 1990, still has traces of the Soviet era and the Wall, the graffiti-covered remains of which are still visible. During your run, you may come across one of the five remaining watchtowers, out of the 302 that were in operation before the fall of the Iron Curtain.

While walking or running, admire the works of art that cover the remains of the Berlin Wall.
Admire the works of art on the Wall!

The best known remnant of the Wall, the East Side Gallery, is located along the Spree River,

between the East Station and the Oberbaum Bridge. It was painted by 118 artists from all over the world.

However, it is now falling into ruins.

As a result, the city of Berlin has decided to organize a reconstruction of the wall. On this occasion, the artists will repaint their work on a new Wall.

Under the Bundestag dome

Finally, what would a walk through Berlin be without a glimpse of the Bundestag? The former Reichstag Palace has been home to the German Parliament since 1999. You'll notice the iconic glass dome, which is actually possible to visit. From the top of the palace, you get a breathtaking view of the city!

Admire the glass dome during your visit to the Reichstag Palace.
The glass dome of the Reichstag Palace.

Run with us around the bear city !


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