Cities and stadiums
Berlin will be a host city for the World Cup seventeen years after the fall of the Wall.
From its beginnings to Cold War symbol
Soccer fans from around the world will be coming to a city that, like no other, symbolizes peaceful unification and freedom. Being divided and then reunited is a recurrent theme in the history of Berlin. In the course of the Middle Ages two settlements developed along the Spree, between the villages of Köpenick and Spandau. Cölln was built on an island formed by the Spree and Berlin on the northern bank of the river. Berlin and Cölln were officially merged into a single municipality in 1432. However, this situation lasted for only ten years and they were divided again, until being reunited in 1709.
The city became the political capital first of Brandenburg, then of Prussia, and, in 1871, of the German Reich under Bismarck. It developed into Germany's largest industrial and cultural center. Between 1933 and 1945 Berlin was associated with the aggressive policies of Nazi Germany. During the Second World War large parts of the city were destroyed. After the war both the country and its capital were divided. The building of the Berlin Wall in 1961 created a visible symbol of this division.
Unification in peace and freedom
Peaceful demonstrations by the people of East Germany led to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. A year later Germany celebrated its reunification. A parliamentary resolution was passed in 1991 declaring Berlin the capital of the country and, as such, the seat of the national parliament and government. Germany has since assumed wider international responsibility and become a respected partner in security policy, crisis management, and conflict prevention activities.
Numerous sights in the city such as the Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag Building, and Checkpoint Charlie (former border crossing into East Berlin for the Allied forces and all foreigners) reflect some of Germany's past. Others document international influences, e.g. architecture on 'Potsdamer Platz' by Rezzo Piano or the Jewish Museum by Daniel Libeskind.
Source: REGIERUNGonline / Bernd KühlerCultural treasures are preserved in Berlin's 170 museums. Its famous 'Museum Island', a world cultural heritage site, lies between the Spree and a street called 'Am Kupfergraben'. The museums there have significant collections of archeology and 19th century art. The objects on display include the Pergamon Altar, the bust of Nofretete, as well as paintings ranging from Giotto to Picasso, Joseph Beuys, Georg Baselitz, and Keith Haring. Important private collections such as those of Heinz Berggruen, Erich Marx, and Friedrich Christian Flick supplement the museums and afford access to significant amounts of classic modern and modern art in Berlin.
The city exerts a strong attraction on artists and in recent years an international art scene has established itself here. Galleries have sprung up in Mitte, Prenzlauer Berg, and Friedrichshain. A vast array of cultural scenes, lifestyles, and annual events such as the Love Parade, Christopher Street Day, or the Carnival of Cultures make Berlin an interesting place to live.
160 top teams
Berlin is not just an artistic and cultural center but also a hub of sports activity. More than 525,000 athletes are organized in some 1,900 clubs. There are 1,500 sports facilities spread out across the city. A total of 160 Berlin teams play in the top league of their sport. Cases in point: Alba Berlin in basketball, SC Charlottenburg in volleyball, and Hertha BSC in soccer.
Annual sports events held in the capital include the Berlin Marathon, the ISTAF international track meet, the Six Day track cycling competition in the newly built Velodrom, or the German International Women's Tennis Championship at Steffi Graf Stadium.
Visitors to the German capital have over 7,000 restaurants, bistros, bars, and cafés to choose from. The fare on offer ranges from a simple 'currywurst' to exquisite food in any of the city's leading gourmet restaurants. There is nothing more pleasant on a warm day than a meal at one of the city's outdoor restaurants or a cool drink in one of its beergardens. 'Berliner Weiße' is a popular beverage here in the summer months.
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