When reunification stitched Berlin back together, the city boomed – dazzling the world with its energetic zeal, racing off towards its bright future. Suddenly everything was new and hip and Berlin became a vast construction site, almost overwhelming this astounding city’s past. Almost. But Berlin also respects her beautiful Baroque history; its graceful palaces, soaring cathedrals and elegant bridges, all the charms, modern and classical, necessary to thrill any visitor. The gentrification of cool old corners of the city has slowed perceptibly, leaving things improved but interesting. The throbbing excitement following reunification has wound down to a calmer confidence. The city’s beat still garners speed in the clubs and arts worlds but relents sufficiently to let Berliners and visitors enjoy the city’s quieter charms as well. Berlin boasts cutting edge nightlife and clubs, first-rate performing arts and over 170 museums.
It’s a city with diverse distinct characters – graceful Schoneberg, edgy Friedrichshain, buzzing Mitte, loveable Kreuzberg – that still bears the marks of its forty-year division into East and West. There are still two city centers, in the east at bustling Alexanderplatz and in the west around Zoo Station, divided by the Tiergarten, a vast city park. The rest of the city is made up of distinctive boroughs or neighborhoods. These days visitors to Berlin might not be aware of crossing from the old East to West, or vice versa, but knowing where you stand helps get a handle on the character of this great city,