Berlin, Germany might have a reputation for being a concrete jungle, with cranes standing like ballerinas in vast industrial wastelands, but it’s much more artistic than first meets the eye.
To many people, Berlin is one of the most eclectic and exciting places in Europe for contemporary art and one that houses dozens of galleries bursting with pieces from all over the world. The hubbub centers around the train station-turned-museum, Hamburger Bahnhof, which exhibits work from Liechtenstein to Warhol, but there’s much more to it than that and here are three choice tips for art in Berlin.
A former department store, this building situation in the old Jewish quarter the Mitte, is now a busy nightclub and modern art gallery where the building is as much a part of the artistic experience as the installations housed within the galleries. Covered head to toe in graffiti, the building looks like the coolest place in Berlin from the outside and, for all intents and purposes, it is on the inside too.
The 9000 square meter building is still hanging from its limbs in places, as the damage from WWII hasn’t ever been properly repaired. But this only adds to its rawness and edge. Following a conspicuous fire in 1991, the housing authorities were moved aside and the arts world took the reigns, resulting in some groundbreaking pieces of the years and many visitors. It’s not just art though, there’s a cinema, a café, a nightclub, a theater, a sculpture studio and space for musical projects. It’s Berlins front-line cultural center and it’s a great place to soak up the very latest artistic vibe.
If you prefer your art to taste a little more classical then you’ll want to make sure you visit the Old National Gallery, located on the aptly names Museum Island. First opened in 1861, the gallery wan built to resemble a Roman temple and on first look you’d be fooled into thinking it was just that. It’s a grand and stunning building but sadly one that was heavily damaged during the Second World War and has taken the last fifty or so years to restore. Finally, in 2001, the gallery fully completed its renovation.
The gallery houses some of the finest and most important works of 19th Century art and the collections range from the Classicism, to the Romanticism, to French Impressionism, with pieces exhibited by Monet and Manet. If 19th Century sculptures and paintings are your thing then the Alte Nationalgalerie is by far the best place in Germany for you.
Away from the galleries and museums is perhaps one of the finest pieces of art in the whole city, but one you might not immediately think of in terms of art, even though you’d never miss it if you walked anywhere nearby. In the west side of the city, at the intersection of the Unter den Linden, stands the remarkable and beautiful Brandenburg Gate that, in a former life, paved the way to the Prussian palace. It was designed by Carl Gotthard Langhans and took three years to complete between 1788 and 1791.
12 columns, standing in twos making six Doric columns across, the gate was modeled on that of ancient Greek forums and the significance this carries with it has led to the gate having experience some monumental historic moments over the years. From Napoleon to the Nazis to JFK, the gate has been a pillar for the entire city and one of the artistic symbols of German history.
Photo of the Old National Gallery, Berlin originally posted by bjaglin