Since the electrifying fall of the Wall in 1989, a reunified Berlin has come into its own as a world-class European capital. Its vast historical heritage allows for many pleasant hours spent gazing upon the mighty symbols of the past. The energy of its millions of inhabitants is expressed through a myriad of special events and fine shopping and dining.
At almost any time of the year in Berlin, you can find some sort of major special event or international gathering. A couple of the best-known celebrations are the Love Parade and Jazzfest Berlin. The Love Parade is held every July and is a very large street party characterized by loud techno music, while JazzFest Berlin occurs every November and features some of the world's finest jazz musicians.
The Brandenburg Gate and the Kulturforum
What the Eiffel Tower is to Paris, the Brandenburg Gate is to Berlin. It was originally designed in the 18th century as a symbol of peace by architect Carl Gotthard Langhans, yet later German leaders used it as a rallying point for militaristic, nationalist aims. After the Brandenberg Gate, be sure to visit the Kulturforum, a beautiful complex of museums, galleries, and concert halls to the west of Potsdamer Platz.
For an excursion outside the city center, a good option is Potsdam, located just to the southwest of Berlin. A favorite retreat of Germany's rulers since the 18th century, it boasts several impressive palaces and mansions they left behind. They represent a wide variety of architectural styles, some more enduring and endearing than others.