Jarred by its dark, turbulent history as the nerve-centre of World War Two and the sundered child of the Cold War, Berlin is fast escaping its troubled past and becoming one of the liveliest, most cultural capitals of Europe.
The seat of German politics and a beautiful view of the city can be seen in the Reichstag building, home of the German Parliament. Though it has weathered fires and heavy bombardment, the building's historic 19th century core stands relatively well preserved and its renovations are a stately sight to behold. The large glass dome encasing the top of the historic centre provides one of the best panoramic, 360-degree views of the city – though not as good as Berlin's Fernsehturm, the second-highest structure in Europe.
The Reichstag sits just north of the Brandenburg Gate, one of the most important and famous landmarks in Europe. Supported by 12 Grecian columns and studded with grand carvings and statues, the Brandenburg Gate, built in the 18th century, used to be a gateway in the wall of the Berlin Wall and a symbol of the city's great Cold War schism. It was here that American presidents John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan gave famous speeches in front of the Wall, in the middle of the Cold War's broiling conflict.
In the east of Berlin stands the East-Side Gallery, a mile-long preserved section of the Berlin Wall with murals memorializing freedom and the fall of the wall. For a view of Berlin's excellent parkland, walk through the Tiergarten, Berlin's largest park sprinkled with the occasional government building, and the gardens of adjacent Charlottenburg Palace, near which stand the Berlin Zoo and a collection of museums. When these cease to grab your attention, a vast amount of other museums, monuments, theatres, 300 clubs, and 7,000 bars and restaurants will ensure that you have barely scratched the surface of this fine city.