Toting my camera around Berlin was a rewarding experience and – as my friends will wearily attest – I took a lot of photos. The blend of architecture, from soviet blocks to modern glass, the free rein given to graffiti artists, and the open-air museums offering both iconic history and stunning art, offer a particularly potent blend for the photography-mad. I’ve narrowed down my vast album of wonky, blurred and not-perfectly-composed images, taken in excitement and haste, to these four, which show some of Berlin’s main cultural attractions.
East Side Gallery
A huge, reconstructed section of the Berlin Wall in Kreuzberg gives some impression of the scale of it, and of the eerie Nomansland in between the two sides. The wall is covered in original artworks from 1990, celebrating freedom and expressing political messages. Due to huge amounts of graffiti, some artists redid their works in 2009, and in some places, both works can be seen. It is a huge open-air gallery, and you could take photos all day. I couldn’t choose just one section of the artwork, so this photo is taken from inside the Nomansland section, looking out through the locked gate.
The Holocaust Memorial occupies a square at the edge of the Tiergarten, not far from the Brandenburg Gate. It is designed to be disorienting and open to interpretation – and it certainly is. Undulating walkways lead unevenly between completely randomly-sized grey concrete blocks. The more you try to find patterns or make sense of it, the more disconcerting it becomes. Luckily, there are some low areas where you can see above the blocks to find your way out. It certainly is a place which leaves an impression.
Inside the dome of the Reichstag
The historic Reichstag building has a very modern dome, which is an absolute dream for any photographer, with curving walkways, panoramic views and a towering centrepiece of hundreds of mirrors. It’s free to go in and take the informative tour, which gives explanations for all the main sights on your way up, and tells you about the building on the way down! You just need to book beforehand (we booked online; there is a ticket office near the Reichstag, but it had quite a long queue, and we wanted to eat cake instead).
Sinti and Roma Memorial
Look past the human statues and street entertainers hanging round between the Reichstag and the Brandenburg Gate, and you’ll find the entrance to a small, peaceful memorial garden, dedicated to the persecuted Sinti and Roma populations during the Nazi regime. The strains of Sinti violin music accompany poetic words written around the edge of the pond. In the centre of the water, there is a triangular stone bearing a single fresh flower.
These are just snapshots of Berlin, from a visit which in itself was just a snapshot of a trip. One day, I’m sure I’ll be back, with my camera, doing my duty to this most photogenic city.