The capital of Germany, and one of the most important cities in mainland Europe, Berlin has had its share of ups and downs throughout its existence since the 13th century. Berlin is unique in that it is not only a city, but is one of Germany’s sixteen states. It was shelled heavily during World War II and was divided between the allies, however, the Russian quadrant soon became the de facto capital of the Russian controlled East, and the city was bisected by the Berlin Wall by 1961. Berlin was once again reunited in 1989 when the wall fell and the rest of Germany followed suit the next year, with the capital of the unified country moving from Bonn back to Berlin over the next decade.
The history lesson is important, because Berlin is still very much affected by that forty year split. It was also during this time that labor was brought in from Turkey and other countries, which has made Berlin the diverse city that it is today. The food and culture of the city has benefited immensely from this, with liters of excellent German beer accompanying doner kebab and the even more curious amalgam of German and Turkish food called currywurst.
Of course, there is plenty to see in the city as well. Portions of the Berlin Wall have been maintained, and the infamous crossing point between the American and Soviet sides of the wall, Checkpoint Charlie, can still be visited in downtown. The famous 18th century Brandenburg Gate is a stone’s throw from where the wall used to be, with plenty of restaurants nearby, and trinket shops for t-shirts and snow globes.
Berlin has both an underground and bus system, and has an airport that services it internationally. The Deutsche Bahn rail system also connects the city to the rest of Germany and the surrounding countries, making it an easy stop to make on your European vacation!