Born Again Berlin; MICHAEL MCHUGH CHECKS OUT THE CONTINUED RENAISSANCE OF THE GERMAN CAPITAL
* IP and trendy have been common buzz words for Berlin for years now, and the city's art scene has no doubt played a large part. On the other hand, it's the German capital's intense and rich history that draws in many visitors.
Though more than 20 years have passed since the fall of the Wall separating East and West, and more than six decades since the days of Hitler, Berlin's past remains etched across the city - stark reminders of the atrocities and frustrations suffered, as well as symbols of the hope of generations that have emerged since.
Two key elements of an eclectic, cosmopolitan city - but they're far from separate entities. Berlin's art and history are inevitably deeply intertwined, and this is a continuing journey.
Earlier this year, following a EUR5m renovation project, a former Jewish girl's school reopened as an arts centre. The school had not long been built before it was seized during the Nazi occupation in the early Thirties. The building was later returned to the Jewish community, but stood empty for years.
Now, the Haus der Kunst und Esskultur (House of Art and Dining Culture) has been transformed into a space for all, featuring galleries and restaurants, with works by the likes of Andy Warhol.
It sits in the Mitte district, an area only recently repopulated. It's also home to Berlin Zoo, with shiny new shops and department stores lining the main streets.
Art is such an attraction in Berlin that new tour company Go Art! Berlin is offering bespoke trips around the city's highlights.
These include neighbourhood and street art, such as the colourful graffiti emblazoned across much of the city, which plays a central role in Berlin's expressive, Bohemian character.
The highlights don't end there, though.
Filling a weekend break in Berlin is easy - the challenge is choosing what to see and what to skip.
The Clarchens Ballhaus, a dance hall which opened in 1913, is well worth a look. Its cracked mirrors and green peeling paint display the dilapidated grandeur of the Roaring Twenties.
It's also home to the Gipsy Restaurant, where you can tuck into delicious wiener schnitzel while listening to live music.
Berlin's public transport system is well set up for tourists.
There's the tram, underground, trains and buses to choose from, but by far the most pleasant way to get around the city's broad boulevards on balmy summer or crisp autumn days is cycling. Most of the roads have very decent cycling lanes, and motorists are very used to the hundreds of bike-riders whizzing along every day. …