Once the heart of the Prussian Empire, the headquarters of Nazi Germany and, in the 1950s and 60s, at the very epicentre of the Cold War, Berlin is a city steeped in history.
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Suggested flight (not included in the cost of the tour) British Airways BA 992 departing
London Heathrow at 11.05 hrs arriving Berlin Brandenburg at 14.00 hrs. Lunch under your own arrangements (please buy or bring a sandwich before departure from London as complementary food is no longer served on the flight).
On arrival drive to the Kemperplatz, across from the Potsdamer Platz, the heart of Berlin’s Kulturforum (Cultural Centre) and where there is a striking contrast of architectural styles from different periods. Visit the vast Gemäldegalerie housing one of the world’s finest collections of European art from the 13th to 18th century, with masterpieces of every age of art history: see works by van Eyck, Bruegel, Dürer, Raphael, Titian, Caravaggio, Rubens, Vermeer and Rembrandt. Transfer to the 5* Regent Hotel in the centre of the city where three nights are spent. Situated in the heart of former East Berlin, close to the picturesque Gendarmenmarkt and only a short walk from the Brandenburg Gate, the hotel has elegant, comfortable and well-appointed bedrooms. The hotel is noted for its gourmet Charlotte & Fritz Restaurant. Walk to dinner at the Gendarmerie Restaurant.
Today visit Museum Island, the oldest museum complex in Berlin which was over 70% destroyed during World War II. Since Re- unification, the collections of both east and west hang together here. Begin with the world-famous Pergamonmuseum which houses the Classical and Near Eastern Antiquities collections and the Museum of Islamic Art. See the reconstructed archaeological ensembles such as the Market Gate of Miletus and the Ishtar Gate, including the Processional Way of Babylon, the Mshatta Façade and the Pergamon Altar (subject to confirmation, currently closed for restoration). Continue to the Alte Nationalgalerie where the 19th-century collection includes Impressionist paintings by Edouard Manet, Claude Monet, Auguste Renoir, Edgar Degas, Paul Cézanne and sculptures by Auguste Rodin.
Drive to the Reichstag, seat of the German Bundestag, and have lunch in the roof restaurant commanding panoramic views over the city. Visit Sir Norman Foster’s inspired interior and dome which are one of the most impressive features of the city. Walk to the Brandenberg Gate via the controversial Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, (opened in May 2005). Designed by architect Peter Eisenman, the Memorial was created as a place of remembrance and warning and is an unusual gently undulating field of 2,700 stelae covering some 19,0002 metres.
Afterwards drive past the site of the former Checkpoint Charlie, once the edge of the ‘free’ world, and see the purported site of Adolf Hitler’s ‘bunker’. Sited in the garden of the Old Chancellory at 77 Wilhelmstrasse, now demolished, it was here that Hitler spent the last weeks of his life sheltering from the Battle of Berlin, and trying in vain to win a war which was already lost. It was here, too, that he married Eva Braun and where, on 30th April 1945 he committed suicide. This afternoon return to Museum Island for a visit to the Neues Museum (New Museum) housing the Egyptian Museum. All beautifully exhibited, see the famous bust of Nefertiti, the Papyrus Collection and
the Museum of Prehistory and Early History. Dinner under own arrangements.
Today drive 30kms drive to Potsdam, crossing the Glienicker Bridge where Soviet and American spy exchanges took place. Visit Schloss Sanssouci (translation ‘without worry’), the exquisite Summer Palace of Frederick the Great. Dating from the mid-18th century, the palace was the Emperor’s retreat where he entertained some of the most educated and enlightened men of his time. The tour of this architectural gem includes the concert and reception rooms and the opulent Marble Hall decorated in the finest German Rococo style. Also see the stunning gilded and marbled Bildergalerie housing Frederick’s original art collection with paintings by Caravaggio, Anton van Dyck’s Pentecost and works by Peter Paul Rubens.
Lunch at the Historischen Mühle Restaurant. Drive to Schloss Cecilienhof, set on the shores of the Jungfernsee and built in mock Elizabethan style by the Hohenzollerns during World War I. See the rooms where Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin decided the fate of post-war Europe in 1945. Return to Berlin via the Russian Quarter of Alexandrovska and the 18th-century Dutch Quarter of Potsdam. Dinner under own arrangements.
Morning at leisure with options to visit the Jewish Museum or Charlottenburg Palace. Tim will be available to accompany the group. The Judisches Museum (Jewish Museum), housed in a remarkable modern building designed by Daniel Libeskind, opened in September 2001. Shaped a bit like the Star of David and containing bizarre angles to symbolize the Holocaust, it showcases the history of the Jewish people in Germany from the Middle Ages to today, particularly during the reign of the Third Reich.
The Glass of Wine, Vermeer, Gemäldegalerie Schloss Charlottenburg is a shining example of Baroque architecture and the largest palace in Berlin. It was originally built by Elector Frederick III as a summer residence for his wife Sophie Charlotte in 1699 and is surrounded by a beautiful park.
Transfer to Berlin Brandenburg Airport. Suggested flight (not included) British Airways BA 985 departing Berlin at 16.45 hrs arriving London Heathrow at 17.40 hrs.