The Bauhaus-Archiv. Source: Alamy Stock Photo. © Peter Delius
Berlin is full of a wide variety of architectural styles and examples of art from different periods. Its buildings are just as important as its squares and urban spaces. In this article we talk about which places are a must on a visit of this kind to the German city.
The city of Berlín played a key role in the history of Germany in the 20th century. In terms of architecture, we can talk about religious, civil and military buildings. In Berlin we find a wide variety of all of them, especially from the last century. The different styles that have been most representative throughout the ages have left a clear mark on the city.
The Bauhaus cannot be ignored when talking about Berlin. This movement included different architectural works and other artistic manifestations and many of them are still preserved today.
The architects who belonged to this trend in the 1920s include Mies Van de Rohe, whom we have already mentioned in another post on our blog, and Walter Gropius. Both architects left Germany when it was under Hitler's regime.
The Bauhaus Archive was built on the idea of Walter Gropius, creating a building to accommodate all expressions of the movement. It is possible to visit both the exterior and the interior, where temporary exhibitions based on the Bauhaus are held.
Near this building we can also find the New National Gallery (Neue Nationalgalerie). The museum, one of the icons of 20th century architecture, is the only project built by Mies van der Rohe in Europe after he began his American phase and has recently been restored by the prestigious British architect David Chipperfield. If you want to do architectural tourism in Berlin, you can't miss either of these two buildings.
This project, completed in 2001, is one of Frank Ghery's most interesting. It is a mixed-use building, consisting of a commercial sector housing the Berlin headquarters of DZ Bank and a residential sector consisting of 39 flats. The commercial sector of the building faces Pariser Platz and the Brandenburg Gate, and the residential sector faces Behrenstrasse. It has a rather conventional appearance on the outside, due to the building restrictions in the city of Berlin at the turn of the 20th century, while the interior features Ghery's characteristic style.
Passing through the glass canopy that covers the main entrance from Pariser Platz, one enters the building's large interior atrium, which features a curved glass roof and floor. The office spaces are arranged around the atrium and are oriented to take advantage of the natural light flooding in through the giant skylight.
At the centre of the glass floor of the large atrium is a large sculptural shell, which holds the building's main conference room. This irregular, organic form is clad in stainless steel on the outside and wood on the inside.
This branch of the DZ Bank in Berlin can be visited to see the interior atrium. The visit is well worthwhile to appreciate the different materials used in the creation of a space divided into several atriums, dedicated to different activities or uses.
The Tiergarten is a large Berlin park. The green lung of the city and a place of recreation for Berliners, it was once a hunting ground for the Prussian aristocracy. At one end of the park stands the Brandenburg Gate. The park also contains the German Parliament building, which has a glass dome designed by the architect Norman Foster in 1999. The building is open to the public and can be seen from different points, including below.
The dome has more than 300 mirrors that reflect the light into the building. The spiral-shaped walkways allow a complete visit, climbing to the top, where you can see the city of Berlin. A must-see if you are doing architectural tourism in Berlin.
This new Parliament dome was designed to be a symbol of the reunification of Germany after the fall of Berlin.
This contemporary art centre was designed by Hugh Stubbins and built in 1957. It is a building that mixes different styles. It is reminiscent of Niemeyer's brutalism, but mixing concrete with warmer materials such as wood.
Inside the building you can find several exhibition and meeting rooms with a capacity of more than 1000 people. Films, plays and concerts are also shown here.
The Haus der Kulturen der Welt is located in the Tiergarten park, next to a lake. Here you can also see the sculpture Butterfly by Henry Moore. It is the last work the artist completed before his death in 1986.
Tiergarten is located in the heart of the city of Berlin, this library designed by Max Dudler in 2009. It is a building where straight lines predominate, both on the outside and inside, where wood is the protagonist. The library belongs to the Humboldt University.
The interior is characterised not only by the wood that covers the central structure, but also by the light that penetrates incredibly well through openings in the ceiling. It is a spacious but comfortable space.
This 18th century neo-baroque religious building, designed by Julius Raschdorff, is located opposite the Lustgarten garden.
During the Second World War, the cathedral was badly damaged by bombing. The reconstruction work continued until the beginning of the 21st century. Today we can see the restored building in its full splendour.
The highlight of this building is the large central copper dome. The façade is impressive, but the interior, which houses the Hohenzollern Crypt, is also worth a visit.
Very close to the famous Brandenburg Gate, this monument was built to commemorate historical memory, specifically the dramatic episode of the Holocaust. It was designed by the American architect Peter Eisenman, of Jewish origin, and consists of 2,711 concrete stelae set in a grassy plain covering almost 20,000 square metres. It was inaugurated in May 2005.
This spectacular building, designed by the architect Daniel Libeskind (a Polish Jew) and inaugurated in 1999, shows visitors what the life and culture of this people has been like for the last two thousand years.
Museum Island is the name given to the unique ensemble of buildings on the island in the River Spree in the heart of Berlin, which houses five major Berlin museums built under the Prussian monarchs and a reception and exhibition building, the James Simon Gallery, which opened in 2019. It is the most extraordinary collection of museums imaginable: the Pergamon, where, among many other treasures, the remains of that city in Asia Minor are kept; the Boden, filled with monumental sculptures; and the jewel of the ensemble, the Altes Museum, with a brilliant renovation carried out by the British architect David Chipperfield, where the bust of Nefertiti can be seen.
In addition to all these important buildings, Berlin's urban interest should not be ignored. The city's recent history has given rise to unique urban spaces, such as Potsdamer Platz, Pariser Platz, Gendarmenmarkt and Alexanderplatz, which should not be missed on an architectural tour.
We hope this selection of architectural sightseeing sites in Berlin has helped you to create your own list of must-visit hotspots.
The Master of Advanced Studies in Collective Housing is a professional and international postgraduate programme that is developed on a full-time basis, dealing with advanced architectural design in the city and housing. It is designed and taught jointly by the Polytechnic University of Madrid (UPM) and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH).
The application period for MCH2022 is already opened, and it will remain so till 31.01.2022 or until vacancies are filled.