This article is brought to you by National Geographic Traveller (UK).
Berlin is embracing a fresh perspective as it rejuvenates its old landmarks, infusing them with new vitality and purpose. Starting this July, Berliners will have the opportunity to see their city from a different angle as the former airport control tower and viewing terrace at the old Tempelhof Field open to the public for the first time since the cessation of flights in 2008. The preservation of its grounds, which had been threatened by development, has already transformed them into a cherished open space for locals. However, the recent renovation of this urban airport, located just two miles from the Brandenburg Gate, offers visitors a remarkable 360-degree skyline panorama. But Tempelhof is more than just a viewing platform; it also holds historical significance, with an exhibition space inside that delves into its intriguing past. Originally expanded in the 1930s as a notorious example of Nazi-era architecture, the airport later became a symbol of freedom when it played a crucial role in transporting food and fuel to West Berlin during the Cold War blockade by the Soviets in 1948-9.
A Glimpse into the 20th Century
The Fotografiska museum of photography first opened its doors in Stockholm in 2010 and has since expanded beyond Sweden, with branches in New York and Tallinn. Berlin will soon welcome its own Fotografiska this summer, and its choice of location couldn’t be more fitting. Kunsthaus Tacheles, originally constructed as a department store in 1907, spent most of the 20th century slowly deteriorating. It gained fame for housing a community of artist squatters in the aftermath of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Although the squatters were evicted in 2012, this three-floor space in the Mitte district will retain graffitied reminders of its recent past as it embarks on a new chapter.
Empowering the Community
Over the past three years, the reconstructed Berlin Palace has been completed, transforming it into the Humboldt Forum. This architectural masterpiece, no longer home to Prussian kings, now houses museum collections that include captivating displays of Asian art and ethnography. Just outside the palace’s baroque main entrance, where a monument to Kaiser Wilhelm I once stood, a new memorial is nearing completion. The National Monument to Freedom and Unity pays tribute to the 1989 revolution that toppled the communist regime and reunified the two Germanies. The memorial takes the form of a boat-shaped structure, 164 feet in length, delicately balanced in a see-saw fashion, inviting visitors to step onto it. As people gather at one end, reaching a tipping point, the structure will begin to shift, symbolizing the power of unity and collective action.
Where to Stay in Berlin
Located amidst the leafy streets of Charlottenburg, The Hoxton’s first German property boasts 234 rooms adorned with art nouveau details inspired by the neighborhood. Situated just one block south of Kurfürstendamm, the hotel’s headline restaurant offers a modern Indian tandoor menu, providing guests with a culinary delight.
Where to Indulge in Cuisine
While insect-based cuisine may not have sparked the anticipated food revolution in the Western world, MikroKosmos is introducing this novel practice with a couple of dishes on its predominantly plant-based, South American-accented menu, offering a unique dining experience.
This article was originally published in the Jul/Aug 2023 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK).
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about landmark revitalization
Q: What landmarks in Berlin have been revitalized?
A: Several landmarks in Berlin have undergone revitalization. These include the former airport control tower and viewing terrace at Tempelhof Field, the Fotografiska museum, and the Berlin Palace, which now houses the Humboldt Forum.