While we may have to stay indoors for the time being, there is no reason to stop exploring the outdoors from the comfort of your home!
We at Adaptable Travel don’t see the current climate as a reason to miss out on your trip, instead it is the perfect opportunity to explore the world virtually.
Each week we’ll be putting together a digital tour of our best destinations which you and your students can explore from anywhere! These resources are easy to share with your students and aim to help bring learning to life and support their learning as they cover topics at home.
This week we travel to Berlin, a vibrant modern city with a tumultuous past. The fascinating history of this city will be explored below.
Hop on board, ready to depart to BERLIN!
This virtual tour will follow a chronological order and so we begin by taking in the wonderful architecture of the Brandenburg Gate. This 18th century monument was built on the orders of King Frederik William II of Prussia (a country that no longer exists) and has survived the Napoleonic and two World Wars. Originally the statue on top of the Gate, the Goddess of Victory with her four-horsed chariot, was regarded as a symbol of Peace. Despite once standing in a divided city, the Gate is now synonymous with a reunited Berlin.
INTERESTING FACT: The gate was not built as a political symbol, really it marked the end of the boulevard Unter den Linden. (Source)
Our next stop is perhaps one of Berlin’s most significant historical buildings having been witness to the city’s turbulent history. Now seen around the world as a recognisable sign of democracy, it provides a stunning panorama view while the German parliament is at work below. However, it did provide the Nazis with an excuse to seize power, having been the victim of an arson attack in 1933 allegedly by Communists. This excursion is a favourite with school groups as it allows you to take in the stunning architecture while understanding how the buildings’ historical testimony means it plays an incredibly important role in the city.
INTERESTING FACT: Cyrillic graffiti left by Soviet soldiers, after their siege of the Reichstag in 1945, has been carefully preserved and can be still seen by visitors today. (Source)
Just a short journey out of Berlin finds us visiting the Olympiastadion, a stadium rebuilt for the 1936 Olympics in Nazi architectural style. One of the most striking attractions of this stadium is the Glockenturm, the bell tower, from which there are amazing views. The original bell was damaged during World War II and is displayed outside the stadium. Once the site of many Nazi rallies it is now a fully refurbished and modern sports stadium, often hosting large scale events.
INTERESTING FACT: It was here that Usain Bolt smashed his own 100m record, running it in 9.58 seconds at the 2009 World Championships in Athletics. (Source)
For our next stop, we take a trip to one of the most visited museums in Berlin, the Topography of Terror. Located in what once was the SS Reich Main Security Office in WWII, it is a well-researched and exhaustive exploration of Nazi crimes from when the group seized power in 1933 to the end of the war. Told via the display of photographs, documents and propaganda, the exhibitions paint a chilling picture of the decisions that would have been made on this site. Additionally, the open air museum is home to the longest surviving section of the Berlin Wall making this a must see for any trip to Berlin.
INTERESTING FACT: With the concentration of these institutions at one site, this area in effect became the government district of the National Socialist SS and Police State. (Source)
Of course, one absolute must see in Berlin is the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. A vast memorial site covering 19,000 square metres is placeholder to some 2,711 plain concrete slabs of different heights, it is a place of contemplation and remembrance. The varying heights of the blocks and the uneven, sloped floor gives the visitor a feeling of unease and uncertainty. Underneath the memorial lies an information centre where you can find information on the victims through the photographs, diary entries and farewell letters provided. The centre allows us to see the victims as individuals rather than statistics and juxtaposes with the anonymity of the memorial above.
INTERESTING FACT: The memorial was due to be finished by 27th January 2004, the 59th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. However, it was not finished until December of that year, officially opening to the public in May 2005. (Source)
The Berlin Wall was built in 1961 to stop the migration of people from the Eastern, Communist part of a then divided Germany to the more prosperous West side of the country. Between 1945 and 1961 more than 2.6 million East Germans escaped, many of these people were skilled workers. In 1961 the border was closed, and the wall built overnight in an attempt to prevent any further escapes. It was 13 feet high and 96 miles in length complete with 300 guard towers and vertical concrete slabs reinforced with iron bars. When the wall was torn down in 1989 due to the rising of political protest against the travel ban, it took more than two years to remove the vast majority of it. This means sections of the Berlin Wall remain today, covered in art and graffiti reminding the city of its once divided past. It is argued that the wall provides an important piece of German culture and sections of the wall have even been reinstalled.
INTERESTING FACT: The East Side Gallery is arguably the most visited section of the wall, with artists from all over the world travelling to paint this 1300m stretch of wall. (Source)
Our final stop on this virtual tour is probably the most well-known border crossing point between East and West Germany, Checkpoint Charlie. The Checkpoint itself represents a symbol of both freedom and division in Germany. It also bears witness to the events of the Cold War and is perhaps one of the most enduring symbols of events that shaped a generation. While little remains of the original checkpoint, a replica booth stands in its place which the students can explore. In the Checkpoint Charlie museum, students can explore exhibits telling the stories of people trying to escape the East German regime and flee over the Berlin Wall. Students can experience the desperation of these escapees and discover the ingenious and brave ways the attempted escapes occurred. The museums exhibits escape cars with secret compartments, fake and genuine travel documents and specially constructed suitcases.
INTERESTING FACT: In 1989, so many people gathered in crowds outside Checkpoint Charlie that after a while border guards stopped passport checks and let people pass freely through the border for the first time in nearly 30 years.
That brings today’s virtual trip to a close, we hope you have enjoyed exploring Berlin’s fantastic attractions. Please check out further information on Berlin and even more excursions on offer through our website. Check back on our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for our next virtual trip!
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