Berlin is Germany’s political, cultural and historical centre. It has once again become a top ten destination of world metropolises and is recognized as one of the top three congress destinations. Almost twenty five years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the German capital has its own attraction. Berlin projects itself as a modern, cosmopolitan and creative city in the heart of Europe. For every visitor, the city offers a very personal experience: from cultural institutions such as museums and operas to partying in one of the many clubs. And for those who look for relaxation: in Berlin a fast paced metropolis and relaxing rest areas in nature are not far apart.
It is the diversity, the contrasts and the sheer inexhaustible potential of this capital city that creates the enthusiasm of its visitors from all over the world. People are excited by the mixture of history and Zeitgeist, the broad spectrum of art, culture, music, entertainment and shopping facilities. The modern hotel landscape, the diversity of its cuisine and its outstanding cost-effectiveness by comparison to other destinations in Europe make up the special charm of the metropolis on the Spree. A flourishing creative scene together with Berlin’s hip music and club culture contribute to the unmistakable lifestyle metropolis with a population of around 3.5 million.
Traces of history
Ever since its foundation in the Middle Ages, Berlin has never ceased to make history – whether as the capital of Prussia or as a booming metropolis of the nineteen-twenties. The day the Wall came down was, as far as the divided city was concerned, the start of a new era bringing with it fundamental political changes such as the Reunification of Germany in 1990, the Bonn-Berlin decision in 1991 and the relocation of the seat of government to the Spree in 1999. Since then Berlin has undergone some radical changes. It has reconciled the differences between East and West and the two sides have grown together. The original 23 districts have become twelve and are now home to its inhabitants with more than 180 different nationalities.
Today Berlin stands for dynamism and modernity, but there is evidence of its turbulent past everywhere in the face the city presents to the world. In the wake of Reunification, historic buildings have been restored and where the Iron Curtain formally hung new districts and spectacular sights such as the Government Quarter or the Holocaust Memorial have sprung up. The mix of historic sights and modern architecture of the 20th and 21st centuries fascinates visitors from all over the world.
Art and culture
Whether it is the art of the Old Masters, present-day paintings or avant-garde design of tomorrow, classical opera, musical or hip pop concert, sophisticated theatre or the variety shows – with around 1,500 events every day, Berlin’s cultural calendar features an assortment that leaves nothing to be desired.
With their historic art collections, unusual architecture and new exhibition concepts, some 180 museums make a visit to the capital an unforgettable experience. At the heart of Berlin’s arts landscape is the Museum Island, encompassing five buildings in the historic city centre. Since the Neues Museum was reopened in October 2009 it is the first time for 70 years that all the museums in the ensemble, unique in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1999, are accessible to the public.
Creative metropolis and capital city of trend
As a UNESCO ‘City of Design’ and the first German city to figure in the worldwide network of ‘Creative Cities’, Berlin is a frontrunner in the architecture, art and fashion sectors. It is here in the hip ’scene’ metropolis that tomorrow’s trends are born. Over the last few years Berlin has established itself as a centre of modern design. The capital inspires and offers space for unusual ideas, innovative concepts and unconventional life scripts. Attracted by this dynamism and the sense of creative euphoria, numerous international artists and designers come to Berlin looking to gain inspiration from its lively atmosphere and to expand their creative potential.
The German currency is the Euro (€). Major credit cards are accepted at most large businesses.
The mother tongue is German and English is the second language in Berlin. In addition to this, many residents speak additional modern foreign languages.
Germany has a temperate climate. The average summer temperatures in Berlin can rise above 30°C with average daytime temperatures between May and September usually somewhere between 15° and 25°C. In winter, it can be extremely cold with temperatures as low as -10°C or less. As a rule, however, daytime temperatures are around freezing point during the winter months. You can find up-to-date information on the weather in Germany at www. wetteronline.de.
VAT / Tax-free Shopping
Value Added Tax is currently 19% in Germany. Travelers who live outside the European Union can obtain a refund on value added tax for goods bought in Germany. Save your receipts from your purchases. Get to the airport ahead of time when you are leaving. Before you check in your luggage, you can go to the tax free shopping reclaim office and get your receipts stamped and obtain a cash refund.
Berlin is the first area of Germany allowing shops and stores to stay open round the clock, Monday to Saturday. Many retail outlets have already changed their business hours and now open until 10 PM, some even longer.
Banks and exchange offices
You can exchange currency in an exchange office or bank. Many exchange offices are located at the airports or near the mainline stations. Berlin is also well supplied with banks, and all the major names have branches throughout the city, with many opening late on certain weekdays. There are also numerous cash machines (ATMs) in all areas available 24/7.
230V – remember to pack adapters and only bring electrical equipment with a voltage change facility!