The City of Berlin and Its World Famous Zoologischer Garten

For the visitor there is much to do when in Berlin but arguably one of the most frequently visited attractions is the Berlin Zoologischer Garten which has fascinated visitors ever since it opened its doors more than 150 years ago.

The Zoologischer Garten happens to be the most visited zoo in the whole of Europe and this is largely due to the fact that it presents the widest range of animal species in the entire world. It opened for business in 1844 and was constructed as a gift to the city by King Friedrich Wilhelm IV. He actually provided the animals from his very own collection.

Initially the brainchild of Alexander von Humboldt and Heinrich Lichtenstein the zoo is situated in the southwest portion of the Tiergarten which is also the largest public park found in the middle of the city. The number of animals housed at the zoo increased rapidly after its inception and many thousands of different animals have called the zoo home over the years. During World War Two massive destruction took place to the zoo and as a result fewer than 100 animals remained.

Today visitors enter the Zoologischer Garten through either its Elephant or Lion Gates and there are now in excess of 15,000 animals that effectively represent more than 1,400 species on display. There are not many cages as most of the animals enjoy being able to roam freely in re-creations of their natural habitats which means that they are more contented.

Among the different species on offer are the Pandas and they are very popular with visitors especially when one reaches a significant birthday! The Birdhouse is also very popular and happens to be one of the most modern of its kind anywhere in Europe with more than five hundred different species of birds. Many of those represented are very rare making it an excellent opportunity for visitors to see birds they would not otherwise have the opportunity to see.

Knut, the polar bear cub, contributed to a significant rise in publicity both in Germany and indeed around the world. He was rejected by his mother and hand reared by one of the zookeepers. Unfortunately Knut has since passed on but the polar bears continue to attract attention and visitors to the zoo.

Of course the polar bears are not the only main attractions. They share that title with other animals such as the wolves, gorillas, pandas, seals, lions, giraffe, etc. A beautiful and technologically advanced aquarium sits adjacent to the zoo and tourists can purchase a combo ticket when they visit so that they can visit the zoo and the aquarium. There you will find more than just fish however as there are also insects, amphibians, and even reptiles to be seen.

For the children there is the kid’s zoo and here they can get up close and personal with different animals in the petting zoo as well as expound pent up energy in the playground.

For family vacations the Berlin Zoo is definitely something that should not be missed!

A Short History of the Berlin Wall

For 40 years, the Communist regimes in Eastern Europe appeared indestructible. The Iron Curtain began to fall apart in 1989 and in only one year, countries have left communism one after another, like domino pieces. The symbol of the Cold War, Berlin Wall has been called the “physical representation” of the Iron Curtain. For 28 years, the enormous construction divided in two a city – Berlin and a country – Germany. The fall of the Berlin Wall is the most important mark of the communist bloc failure.

The construction of the wall began on August 13, 1961 to stop the westward emigration of the German people. In the east it was named “the anti-fascist protection wall” while in the west people called it “Wall of Shame”. 155 km of disgrace of over 3 m high, of which 43 km through the heart of Berlin.

The frontier was also made of km of trenches, bunkers, hundreds of watch towers and barbed wire. Although the creation of the wall began in 1961, Germany was ruptured since the end of World War II. In 1945, Reich capital was divided between the Allied powers in the west and the Soviet Union in the east, and in 1949 two countries were born: Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic. In 1952, East Germany closed its border with West Germany, worried about the departure of population. There were exposed points though, where people were still able to pass. More than 2.5 million Germans made it to west between 1949 and 1961.

Although on June 15, 1961 East German leader Walter Ulbricht declared that there will not be a wall built, on August 13, the eastern part of Berlin is surrounded by barricades and barbed wire. The wall is built in certain stages. In 1962 a barricade was added, 90 feet on the inside, being created a strictly controlled “restrained zone”. Houses on this strip were bulldozed and people moved. The zone, mined and full of trapping wire, offered an extensive field of fire for the guards. In 1965 concrete walls began to be raised and, over the years, observation towers were added, while patrols and security were increased.

The “four generations wall”, completed in 1975 was the last version. It was assembled from slabs of 3.6 meters high and 1.2 meters wide. The wall was strengthened with motion sensors, fencing net and barbed wire, trenches against vehicles, and on the crest wall it was mounted a clean pipe, which would have made even problematic to escalate.

The eight passing points were planned particularly for different types of people that could pass through. The most well-known was Checkpoint Charlie, which was meant only to Allied personnel and non-German citizens. During the history of the Wall, military personnel, officials and Allied diplomats could enter East Berlin without passport control. Also, Soviet patrols could enter freely in the West Berlin.

On November 9, 1989 the East German government choose to permit visits to West Germany, but the minister for propaganda was not properly informed therefore a lot of confusion was developed. Tens of thousands of Berliners assailed the crossing points, claiming to move freely in the West. Overwhelmed by tens of thousands of people and in the absence of clear instructions, border guards were not likely to open fire, permitting the crowds to pass over.

The wall has been kept some time after November 9. On June 13, 1990 East German army launched formal demolition, and on July 1 all border crossing points were conventionally abolished. The two Germany halves were finally rejoined on October 3, 1990. Today, there are only three remaining portions of the wall: a section of 80 meters near Postdamer Plaz, a longer section near the river Spree and the third piece, turned into a monument, north of Bernauer Strasse.

Berlin For Kids

Berlin is a great European capital ideal for a family holiday. The German capital offers a great offer to fulfill the needs and the desires of the children: special kids-programs in theatres, cinemas and museums, unforgettable walks on foot or by boat… Is there any other better way to keep them entertained?

If you want to share a cultural and funny experience with your children you will have to take them to any of the 170 museums specifically designed for them: for example, the German Museum for Technology, which has a beautiful real airplane and 14 different exhibition halls, including engines, locomotives, ships, airplanes and so on; another option is to bring them to the Nature Museum, which includes huge dinosaurs, always a hit for with the youngsters.

After so much learning, why not venture into the world of the living? The AquaDom is the largest aquarium in the world. There your children may try the incredible underwater World. Then it would be great a visit to the Berlin Zoo: it is the largest in Germany and the one which has the largest number of species

For the rainy days there are a wide range of funny options: children surely love the Imax 3-D Potsdamer Plazt Cinema. Then you can go to the indoor theme park Legoland. It is a park built with 1.5 million Lego bricks. It includes the chance for kids to test their creations on a car racing track or earthquake table, as well as a miniature city of Berlin built entirely from Lego. Both the 3-D Cinema, and the Legoland Park are located at the Potsdamer Plazt.

Maybe the kids are tired from walking all the day long. Then, everyone on board! A boat trip is the best option to discover Berlin without moving from your comfortable seat. Finally, you should not miss the famous Tiergarden Park – the biggest park in the city. There your children can run and play freely, while you rest or explore its more than 600 acres or have a coffee in the middle of the park.