Hidden Berlin with Nick Jackson3rd March 2017
When you hear the name 'Berlin', what’s the first thing you think of?
The Wall? WWII? The Golden 20s? The origins of WWI and the lights going out over Europe, lights that would flicker dangerously for the next century? Or the events of 1989, a burst of optimism that ended the Wall, the Cold War, and laid the foundations for Berlin, Germany and European 21st Century, a world that is changing rapidly as we speak?
There has never been a better time to explore Berlin, the city you always wanted to visit but not quite got round to it… We cover all of the above narratives, but then so much more, too.
Why Berlin? Well, just ponder the global relevance and significance of the above list of Berlin’s 20th century contributions, sometimes brilliant, often tragic — that’s why. And why now? 20 years of (epic) rebuilding, unification and modernisation is drawing to a close, the new Berlin is ready for us.
And with the end phase of this project, the shadows of the 20th century recede, shadows that once touched all of Berlin, so like a huge open air museum, every step, every corner is still a story. Now Berlin leads within Europe again, cautiously. It’s all ready for us. Berlin’s museum collections have been restored to their former glory, and the new and rising population has added new verve to the feeling of the city, its streets, its restaurants.
But there’s much more hidden away — the rise of Brandenburg Prussia and the birth of modern Germany is a crucial and well-trodden path, but where does ‘Prussia’ come from, exactly? We stroll amongst the spectacular landscape of lakes and brick Gothic architecture in Early Medieval Brandenburg on the Havel river, and explore the city's prehistoric origins from the Ice Age to the arrival of the first ‘Germans’, who planted the seeds from which the German oak grew.
This also gives a glimpse of former small-town East Germany then and now, one that passes most visitors by, but is important today for Germans immediate political future. We wander the echoing, empty corridors and burned out bunkers of legendary air bridge airport Tempelhof, where the Wright brothers flew and where Hitler and (eventually) Speer planned a 100,000 capacity arena for the Führer's military propaganda theatre. Stand in the grim cells of infamous KGB and Stasi prison in the deepest former East Berlin. Hear the stories of the forgotten ‘underground’ Berlin Wall, tales of tunnels and escape, before we hunt down the most interesting abandoned fragments and towers that still lie forgotten…
Follow the story of the doomed plot to assassinate Hitler as we walk from the very office Stauffenberg worked in, and down the stairs he descended to his death that summer night in 1944, and ponder the bravery of those many souls who actively resisted the Nazi regime at the new exhibition. Dine and be serenaded in the glorious surrounding of the Schloss Charlottenburg, a rare survivor showcasing the glories of the Prussian court palaces in the heart of leafy, former West Berlin. And, all the while, enjoy the cuisine of the new Berlin kitchens making waves across the whole culinary world, before retiring to rest in Berlin's best hotel (yes, really) in the historic heart of the city.
As JFK said in 1963: ‘Lassen Sie nach Berlin Kommen’. Who are we to disagree?
— Nick Jackson
You can join Nick on our Hidden Berlin tour in 5th – 10th June (5th – 10th) or August (21st – 26th). Get in touch to book your place.