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  • Athina Ntoka

Berlin: The diversity city

Ενημερώθηκε: Απρ 10

A city changes when people change. This happens in Berlin – and in most EU countries. When I first visited Berlin, more than 15 years ago, it was a usual German city where the language spoken was only German, the food that was served in restaurants was German as well, and the tourists where few.




After those years, the city has been changed. Multi -coulti people have their properties in Berlin, metro lines have been expanded, bike paths have been created, restaurants with multicultural character are open and tourists all over the world try to visit as many attractions as Berlin has.




But although these changes, Berlin hasn’t lost its character. Berlin incorporates intense and contradictory emotions into buildings, museums, parks, streets. Everything here is a monument to battles, conflicts and radically opposite ideologies. The city lost and regained its pace again and again. It determines the lives of others not once but countless times. Berlin was reborn from its ashes and burned so many more. Metamorphosis, this is the word that matches best into the city.







The architecture of the Brandenburg Gate incorporates many different moments of the city's history. Each night its columns are illuminated with colors, projecting highlights of the history of the Wall on the gate. What was life like when the city was divided?





A view of the situation then is given by Yadegar Assisi in his panoramic exhibition "The Wall" hosted in a special place in the legendary passage, Check Point Charlie. Everyday photos, people walking, kids playing, punks smoking next to the Wall. A weird regularity. And as he himself said, "I wonder if I'm bad because I didn't notice the Wall."





I leave behind the gate and the multiple symbols and as I go along, I notice the ripple. Near the Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag, where the Chancellor of the Third Reich was located, there is the Holocaust Memorial, a work by Peter Eisenmann, dedicated to all Jews who lost their lives.





There is no specific entry, no preset route. Everyone chooses at will. I walk through the concrete columns. The height fluctuates. Unwittingly, my pace is slowing down. 2.711. Dissimilar. No names and inscriptions. Subjective symbols arise effortlessly. I walk between them and touch their corners. I'm in the center of town and yet the sounds here aren't enough. I feel like I'm in a maze. A knot in the stomach.





Next to me and others are curious about the place. I go outside and watch from a distance. On the inauguration day, May 10, 2005, the Speaker of the German Parliament, Wolfgang Thierse, had said: "The Monument is a structural symbolism of the unthinkable crime (of the Holocaust). It manages to create a sensual and emotional perception of isolation, oppression, threat. "





The Information Center created answers of the questions: where, how, why? Photographs, texts, documents explain the Nazi policy of extermination of Jews during the period 1933 - 1945. Space of names, places, families. I want to hold on and confront all the emotions that have arisen.


Berlin has many museums. Walking through the city from many points was clearly visible from the Radio and Television Tower, the tallest building in Alexander Platz (Alex is called by locals).






Despite its impressive height, I preferred to go to the Museum Island. The truth is that you are missing out on the city. Lots of parks, big roads, bicycles and roller skates everywhere and if you decide to walk you have to be ready for long distances. The ally in the bold decision is that the city is flat.

Museum Island is one of the largest museum complexes in the world. It is a World Heritage Site, a cultural acropolis. Neues Museum, Alte National Galerie, Bode Museum, Museum of Pergamon.



A new building with a stone facade and thin columns was added to the famous cluster and named James-Simon-Galerie. It will be the central hub for visitors to the island of the River Spree.


It will function as the entrance building to the Pergamon Museum while from the basement area there are the Neues, the Altes Museum and the Bode Museum. The concept is masterful.


The Neues Museum was built in 1850 and a century later was completely destroyed by the bombings in World War II. It remained a ruined monument for years until the restorations began in 1997 and the main task was how sunlight would affect the exhibits at different times of the year. In the Egyptian courtyard, opaque glass has been used on the roof, which manages to create a shadowy atmosphere. There is also her bust. The famous Nefertiti was in Berlin before World War II. It is undoubtedly the museum's largest treasure and is located behind a bulletproof glass at Nordkuppelsaal. The bust is of rare beauty. It is stirring with admiration and heated debate, as opinions diverge on whether she should stay in Berlin or return home to Egypt.





The Pergamon Museum has a large collection of sculptures, one of the largest collections of coins, a magnificent collection of Greek and Babylonian antiquities including the impressive Ishtar Gate of Babylon and the huge altar of Pergamon. The museum will be fully operational in 2023, as work is underway.




The old and the new are embraced by repeated symbolisms. It comes to my mind "The Deal of a Big City," the documentary about the city of Berlin that told the daily lives of people, buildings, poverty, urbanization, crowding in the early twentieth century. Berlin is not just the Brandenburg Gate, the Museum Island, the cathedral, the imposing glass-roofed House of Commons.














Hackesche Hofe. An incredible cluster of eight courtyards, Art Nouveau facades, and most importantly, an atmosphere! Tourists, travelers, artists, filmmakers, musicians, immigrants, whatever the heart is drawn to. Many have said that the city is a sign of osmosis, Leonard Cohen also said, "First we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin." Because Berlin is a magnet for creators because of the diversity of artistic expression. Everyone wants to taste its “fruits”. The city is telling its story honestly, in secret. Feelings, thoughts, opinions, trends, politics, tactics, mistakes, all in the light.


Interesting museums though are the C/O Berlin, where two exhibitions take place: No photos on the Dance Floor. The revolution of panks and dancers in discos where no pictures were allowed. You see, you fell the spirit of that period. On the upper level the photograph exhibition of Robert Frank. His b/w photographs reflect the habits and life of people.






URBAN NATION museum for urban contemporary art is an international institution for art, creative projects and social exchange. Since September 2017 URBAN NATION shows under the leitmotif “Connect. Create. Care.” that the house is far more than a museum.






Museum of Photography, is the home of Helmut Newtown Foundation. This should not be missed, in case you are a photography lover.



Then, one word. Kreuzberg. The bohemian area before the Wall fell was the neighborhood of immigrants, students. Here were the first punk releases. That was the margin. Today it retains an oriental, Turkish aroma and you will not see luxurious furniture but used in the bars.





Those who choose to stay here are not necessarily marginal, they simply despise the city flooded with hordes of tourists and go on to become the new Barcelona. Street art, gallery, bar, cafe. And every June this year here in the neighborhood takes place the Carnival of Cultures (Karneval der Kulturen). Diversity, multicolor, art. Whatever I write is little and poor. Everyone will make their own narrative there. They will love it or reject it and leave it running.






Klaus Wowereit, mayor of Berlin from 2001 to 2014, said 15 years ago that his city was "poor but sexy", making Berlin the most famous slogan of the "Ich bin ein Berliner". Today the city is evolving into something different. It is cosmopolitan, attracts investors, startups and along the Spree River, luxury homes are being built.



I wonder, is it still true? Is Berlin still poor and sexy? Das ist Berlin, wie's weint and wie es lacht! (This is Berlin, how it cries and how it laughs!) Marlene Dietrich sang.












Enjoy....

*All photos featured are taken by me

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