Berlin isn't Beautiful

by - 8:39 PM

When I thought of Berlin, I thought of grey buildings, a big wall right in the middle of the city and people in a terrible mood. Berlin just isn't beautiful in my mind. Yes, I am biased, yes, I've seen too many documentaries in East Berlin. My previous trip to this city couldn't change my mind: I was three years old and spent the entire time playing house in the gigantic wardrobe in our hotel room. Maybe I even found Narnia, I don't remember. Fact is that I couldn't think of Berlin as beautiful.
Last Thursday I went to Berlin again, with my college class this time. I got another chance to change my mind, but didn't. Berlin isn't beautiful. It's something else entirely.

Berlin is historical. If anything, it's historical. I don't know any European city that has been through more awfulness than Berlin. From the Olympics in 1936, it pretty much went downhill because of some nutcase called Hitler thinking it'd be a good idea to try and conquer Europe. As a result, Berlin got heavily bombed at the end of the Second World War. Then America and the Soviet Union took over the city, which eventually led to the Soviets building a freaking wall around the western part in 1963.
Berlin is one of those places where you feel like you're somehow a step closer to history. Maybe it's just because I know so much about what happened to the city. Maybe it's just because of the impressive sights. I don't know why, but when I was at my hostel in Prenzlauer Berg, I felt like I was on the eastern side of the Berlin Wall that divided the city for so many years.

Berlin is still divided. That Berlin Wall might not stop anyone from going from east to west or the other way around anymore, but if you take a tour through the city, you can still feel the division. The eastern part has more flats and apartment blocks that are just squares, but on the bright side: it also has cute stop lights.
The western part has this weird mix of modern and old architecture that kept surprising me. One moment I was surrounded by tall buildings at Potsdamer Platz, the next I found the Gendarmenmarkt with its classical style.

It's curious, but even some of the people from Berlin "have the Wall in their head", as one of my tour guides said. There's still a feel of East and West colliding. And of course the Berlin Wall still exists, not in its entirety, but in parts at the East Side Gallery.

It's unbelievable that the Berlin Wall fell less than a decade before I was born. Because of that, Berlin is a hipster. There's a place for everything and anything that's alternative and, quite frankly, downright weird sometimes. European rickshaws, Trabant cars, murals of kissing politicians. It's all part of the city now. Everything vintage, weird, alternative or unusual is awesome here. Which explains why there also are loads of hipsters roaming the streets. Berlin is the hipster of cities.

The city is something else too: Berlin is art. To quote my friend Debbie: "Everything that's ugly in Berlin is art, everything that's not ugly is architecture." We mostly said this because we had a tour guide who called every brick and every smudge of paint 'art', but there really is a lot of art in Berlin. The entire city is a canvas for graffiti and while most of it sucks, you'll see some amazing pieces if you keep your eyes open. It's awesome just walking around and discovering the little details of all the things they call "art" and "architecture". Still I wouldn't call it beautiful. Berlin isn't beautiful. It's unique, raw and rapidly developing, which makes it beautiful in its very own special way.

Stay Awesome!

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8 Fellow Ramblers

  1. Great blog. I personally would LOVE to visit Berlin since a couple of my family members live there, but as far as the division of the east and west i didn't think it was that noticeable.

    1. Woah, maybe I walked by your family and didn't know, how weird is that? The division is quite noticable, but the line has become blurred and if you don't pay attention, you wouldn't notice. I studied the division this semester so I couldn't help but notice. It adds to the city's uniqueness :)

  2. Hey,
    I Germany has a dark history and especially Berlin the capital. I have to say, I've visited Berlin last summer and admintally I like Berlin. Ok, yes it's another Charme than Munich or any other City. It's a big mixture out of everything in Berlin. In my opinion that's the Beauty of Berlin. Nevertheless everyone has to build their own mind of City.
    It's good to read another view about Berlin.

    1. I like Berlin too. I actually love it because it's such a mixture. I think Berlin is beautiful in a very unconventional way. Most people in my class didn't like Berlin because it doesn't have as many pretty buildings as Vienna, but I like how it's a bit of everything. It makes you pay attention. Keeping your eyes wide open is the only way to really find the beauty of Berlin

  3. Your description makes Berlin sound beautiful tbh :p east and west division and all. I'd like to visit the place too. Are the residential areas all brand new or renovated from around the time of the world war?

    1. I hoped to make people see that Berlin isn't beautiful in the conventional way of ancient architecture and Victorian era buildings, but in the way of complete chaos mixed with history and some tragedy here and there. I think I succeeded :)
      I haven't seen very much of the residential areas. It's really a mix of old, new and renovated. The eastern part has a lot of flats that look like shoeboxes, as we say in the Netherlands :P

  4. Now I really wanna go to Berlin and experience all this on my own. History mixed with art makes Berlin a perfect combo, doesn't it?

    Not Your Type Blog

    1. You would love Berlin! Actually I couldn't stop thinking about how much you'd like to do an Instameet here. There's art all around, but sometimes it's hidden far from average eyes. It's a very instagrammable city


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