I have visited Berlin twice in the last two years. I found the city to be bustling with energy and hope, and the people worldly, liberal, and thoughtful. But the city has an odd heaviness of history to it. The city is spaciously laid out with grand proportions, but a lot of it is empty, and what isn't empty is new. I guess it is still in the process of rising from its ashes, and it is to their credit that the ashes are not hidden.
Here the ruin of WilhelmsKirk stands as a monument to the violence and excesses the past. And many of the older buildings in the old east side still show shrapnel scars from the bombings more than fifty years ago. History casts a pretty heavy shadow here. On the right is the interior of the new dome on the Reich stag. I am not a big fan of German architecture which shows a strong emphasis on visual impact to the detriment of ambiance, but this one is certainly impressive with its modern interior and preserved Russian graffiti and repaired, but visible bullet scars.
Aside from the historical significance
of the surroundings, there are some excellent museums in Berlin. I did
not get to see all of them because of major renovation projects. In the
last decades of the nineteenth century German archeologists unearthed the
ancient Hellenic city of Pergamon on the coast of what is now Turkey as
well as ancient cities in Mesopotamia, and hauled off some of the finest
artifacts to Berlin. These are now in the Pergamon Museum.
And for contemporary art, the Hamburger Bahnhof Museum
has some superb display space and an impressive collection.
On the left is an installation piece by Walter de Maria composed of 2000 white five- seven- and nine sided prisms laid out in a geometric pattern, and on the right is Joseph Beuys piece made up of natural prism shaped basalt columns laid out chaotically like fallen soldiers.
And the background I have chosen is an image of a linden leaf photographed on a bench in Unter den Linden near the Brandenburg Gate (please pardon the purple pipe).