Welcome to Berlin. A city of three and a half million awaits
you - native Berliners with their dark sense of humour, "fugitives"
from cities all over Germany, and the communities of Turkish,
Spanish, Arabic, American, French, Polish and so many other nationalities
and languages that contribute to the unique flavour of the city.
city lies across two rivers, the Spree and the Havel. Its buildings
and monuments represent layers of history stretching back to the
early years of the Middle Ages, its humble beginnings as a trading
station, its growth to regional prominence as seat of the Hohenzollern
Dynasty, its ascent to status of capital under Bismarck, and disastrous
tumble from grace during the Third Reich. Despite 70% destruction
during the Second World War, many older buildings have been reconstructed,
and since the unification of the two Germanies in 1990 and the
decision to relocate the German Government to Berlin, the building
work goes on. In the 1990s Potsdamer Platz and its surroundings
were dubbed the biggest building site in Europe, but now, where
a patch of waste land once lay, a city within a city has grown
up, sporting the the Sony tower and Forum with its surreal tent-like
roof and a modern shopping center.
It's a green city with countless parks, canals and spaces to
unwind in, but if you want action, it's there for the taking.
Opera, Concerts are queueing up to be visited. And, at the
same time, it's an exciting, busy, cosmopolitan city - every type
of international cuisine is on offer. You can watch the world
go by from a table at a pavement café,
or retreat to the intimacy of restaurants
like Pasternak in Prenzlauer Berg or Abendmahl in Kreuzberg.
are two major shopping districts.The Ku'damm in the old west is
lined with designer shops, and continuing eastwards for a couple
of hundred yards you can visit KaDeWe, the biggest department
store on the continental Europe. On the newly developed Friedrichstraße
in the old east, the famous French store Galeries Lafayette is
to be found and a maze of underground shopping malls. Shops are
generally open 09.00 - 20.00 in the week, and 09.00 - 16.00 on
Saturdays. You can change money at most banks (opening hours vary,
bank by bank, but all have cash machines that take Visa, Mastercard),
around the main railway stations and at the airport. The local
currency is the Euro (which is near equivalent in worth to the
US dollar) which has become the official currency from 1st January
2002 throughout Europe. Although you may still find items whose
price is quoted in DM, or Deutsch Mark, which was the German currency
from 1949 to 2001.
Berlin is a safe and compact city,
served by an efficient, clean and cheap public transport system.
It's a city of culture and history, fantasy and fun, excitement
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