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City of media, politics, culture, science, and of course sport; there is so much to see and do on a short break in Berlin, it can be hard to know where to start. Obviously the BMW Berlin Marathon was always going top of OUR list for the German Capital. This ground breaking, record breaking course is a highlight of our running calendar every year. As one of the much sought after Abbott World Marathon Majors, it is a guaranteed sell out every time, and the high number of rollover entries due to the COVID- 19 pandemic mean that entries are in even greater demand than ever. YOU can however, guarantee your place on the start line with packages from Sports Tours International!
Now, if you’re not sure what to do with rest of your break, then look no further. Here’s our top 5 tips for unmissable Berlin experiences!
Perhaps the most recognisable structire in Germany, this iconic 18th-century monument dates all the way back to 1788. Standing on the site of a former city gate, marking the start of the road between Berlin and Brandenburg an der Havel, the gate has seen many major historical events in its long lifetime. In recent years the gate has been a symbol of hope, unity and peace throughout Germany.
Although the gate survived the mass destruction of WW2, it was badly damaged. The columns were riddled with bullet holes and only one of the horse’s head from the original quadriga survived. It is now kept in the collection at the Märkisches Museum. One of the final cooperative efforts, before the wall between East and West Berlin was erected in 1961, the Brandenburg gate was restored to its former, pre war, glory.
The gate also has a special place in Berlin Marathon history. The “Run Free Marathon”, or “The Run of Unity” (“Das Lauf der Einheit”), were among the names given to the Berlin Marathon in 1990. Just three days before the official reunification of Germany, the course of the Berlin Marathon passed through Brandenburg Gate. Runners poured, many of them with tears in their eyes, through the German capital’s most famous landmark.
Roger Robinson describes that moment in his book When Running Made History.
The Brandenburg Gate is also the finish point of the Generali Berlin Half. A finish line that, Sports Tours International rep, Joe claims is one of his all time favourite.
The East Side Gallery is an open air exhibit, right in the heart of Berlin The gallery consists of a series of murals painted directly onto 1,316 m of remnants of the Berlin Wall. 105 paintings are on display, created in 1990, by artists from 21 different countries. It was painted on the east side of Berlin, on the “hinterland mauer”, which closed the border to West Berlin. The gallery is broadly considered a monument to the fall of the Berlin Wall. This symbol of European Unity attracts some 3 million visitors a year. Famous sections of the wall include Dmitri Vrubel’s Fraternal Kiss, and Birgit Kinders’s Trabant Breaking Through the Wall.
The gallery is a unique and memorable way to see the Berlin wall. If you do go, be sure to pack a camera, as you will want to capture some of the postcard famous images for yourself. Warschauer Straße and Ostbahnhof railway stations offer excellent start points for a walk along the gallery. This could be the perfect recovery walk, to stretch your legs, after a marathon or half marathon effort.
The East Side Gallery sits on the banks of the River Spree. So, after your visit, what better way could there be to discover Berlin, than a boat tour through the heart of the city?
The Spree runs from a small pond in the Lusatian Highlands close to the Czech border. It was on the banks of the Spree that the historic centre of Berlin was built. To this day, the most famous stretches of the river are those flowing through the city centre. A River Spree boat cruise can be a superb way to cram in many of the architectural and historical highlights of the city into a short period of time. After the East Side Gallery, the river passes Berlin Cathedral (Berliner Dom) which sits on the famous Museumsinsel, the Reichstag, and the Charlottenburg Palace (Schloss Charlottenburg).
Museumsinsel itself is also a major landmark of the city. A UNESCO World Heritage site, ‘Museum Island’ gets its name from the complex of internationally significant museums, which all feature as part of the Berlin State Museums, occupying the north of the island. Oberbaumbrücke (Oberbaum Bridge) is another highlight along the river. This double- deck bridge, with iconic Brick Gothic style towers became iconic as another part of the boundary between East and West Germany.
More recently, in 2004, the Badeschiff, a floating swimming pool, was opened in the East Harbour section of the River Spree.Here, guests can enjoy a clean and safe swimming experience in the river environment.
Home of the German parliament, the Reichstag is perhaps one of the most recognizable buildings in world politics. Completed in 1894, the Reichstag was designed by German architect Paul Wallot, and styled after Memorial Hall in Philadelphia. The Reichstag stood in ruin by the end of the Second World War, and remained that way until 1956, when it was finally decided it should be restored. The official reunification ceremony (3rd October 1990) was held at the Reichstag building, once again cementing its place at the heart of German politics.
The Reichstag is now the second most visited attraction in Germany. Among the most popular reasons to visit, is the view from the huge glass dome on the roof. Designed by Norman Foster, the dome echoes back to the cupola, that featured on the Reichstag before the war. The huge glass dome offers an incredible 360 degree view of the surrounding Berlin cityscape. The dome is open to the public, and the debating chamber of the German parliament can be seen below. An environmentally friendly and energy efficient design, the dome has a mirrored cone at its center. This cone directs sunlight into the building, reducing the need for electric lighting.
You can experience the Reichstag in all its glory, as part of an active weekend in Berlin, either as the start point of the Generali Berlin Half, or en route, as you make your way around the BMW Berlin Marathon.
Known as the green lung of the city, Tiergarten Park is Berlin’s most popular inner city park. The origins of the park can be traced all they way back to 1527. Tiergarten Park has been at the heart of Berlin city life for centuries. In summer the park is popular with joggers, cyclists, walkers, and people who want simply to relax in the sun. In winter, it is sometimes possible to go ice skating on some of the park’s ponds.
The park is home to Germany’s oldest Zoo. The Berlin Zoological Garden which was opened in 1844. More than 3.3 million visitors, from all over the world, pass through the gates to visit the zoo each year. The popular ‘Bikini Berlin’ shopping mall and its terrace look out over the monkey enclosure of Berlin Zoo, and offer spectacular, panoramic views over the zoo and the wider Berlin cityscape.
The park is home to some of the City’s most notable statues and monuments such as, The Victory Column and several WW2 memorials, including the Memorial to the Sinti and Roma victims of National Socialism. It is also close to some of the city’s other most notable sites, such as the Reichstag, the Brandenburg Gate, and the central square, Potsdamer Platz.
The Berlin Marathon starts (and finishes) on Straße des 17. Juni, which runs east–west through heart of the Tiergarten. So perhaps the Park would be the perfect place for a warm up jog, before your big day, or a gentle walk the day after to relive your marathon highlights.
The ultimate pass for sightseeing in the German capital. The Berlin Pass offers admission to over 60 attractions across the city. The list includes the top museums on Museumsinsel.
This 72-hour pass is perfect if you’re planning a slightly longer break in the capital. The welcome card includes a transportation pass and free entry to ALL the museums on the island. You’ll also get discounts on hundreds of other attractions elsewhere in the city.
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