Like everything else in life, cities are constantly changing. War, politics, migration, the economy, technological advances, and climate change prevent any city from truly staying the same. Berlin is no exception and has probably seen more changes over the last century than any urban area in Europe.
The city developed in the 13th century from groups of small settlements coming together. Later it would become the capital of Prussia and expanded further during the industrial revolution. Now Berlin is the capital of Germany, a country whose current boundaries were only established in the last 100 years. Since then World War I and Nazi rule have made their impact on the city.
Germany’s defeat in the Second World War culminated in the 1945 Battle of Berlin. Berlin was then divided amongst the victor’s allies: The US, Britain, France, and the USSR. In the 1960s Berlin succumbed to communism and the Berlin Wall was erected to stop East Berliners, who had lower living standards than their western counterparts, from emerging from the ‘Iron Curtain’ of Russian influence.
The Gestapo officers enforced this and many human rights were violated until the German reunification in 1989. On 9th November 1989, the Berlin wall fell and Germans were united in scenes of celebration. So where does that leave the second most populous city in the twenty-first century?
One major characteristic of modern Berlin is its love of graffiti and murals. Remnants of the Berlin wall that are still standing were painted the year after it fell. Peaceful images of doves and freedom can be seen here. One section says in both German and English: ‘Many small people who in many small places do many small things can alter the face of the world.’ The side of a building has been painted with a copulating couple next to a speech bubble that reads ‘I love Berlin’.
There is even a combined German and Israeli flag on the wall. In addition to the wall, there is a thriving party and visual arts scene in Berlin. West Berlin tends to attract an older and wealthier crowd. The Eastern half of the city has had a grittier, cooler image and this is where many artists have been residing due to low rent and a creative atmosphere.
Photographic gallery C/O Berlin is located on Oranienburgerstrasse, a street full of galleries and artists, as is the famous Tacheles arts squat. Kreuzberg, a very Turkish area, has changed from being a very poor part of West Berlin to become a cultural mecca. Yet the city continues to change. Rising house prices in East Berlin are causing gentrification to take hold of many artsy urban spaces. If you enjoyed this article then visit http://allstarroundup.com/ for more interesting articles.
People are talking about Berlin’s cheap and edgy ‘past’ and areas such as Mitte, Prenzlauer Berg, and Friedrichshain have been gradually mutating into a hub of expensive clothes shops and organic restaurants. Some of the galleries that were not so well established have had to close because of rising costs.
It will be interesting to see how Berlin changes over the next century. The World Travel Guide Berlin page is a good source of up-to-date information on things such as things to do, places to stay, practical tips, and travel information.