BERLIN RISING; Liz Hoggard Returns to the German Capital in Advance of the 25th Anniversary of the Fall of the Wall, to Sample Its History, Memorials, Art and Food through a Local's Eyes

The Evening Standard (London, England), October 24, 2014 | Go to article overview

BERLIN RISING; Liz Hoggard Returns to the German Capital in Advance of the 25th Anniversary of the Fall of the Wall, to Sample Its History, Memorials, Art and Food through a Local's Eyes


Byline: Liz Hoggard

BERLIN is the great cosmopolitan capital. No matter how many times you visit, you encounter a different city every time. For years it revelled in its poor-but-sexy reputation; but today a new prosperity means cool hotels and super-clubs are springing up everywhere.

And 2014 is a huge year -- marking 25 years since the Berlin Wall came down, uniting the East and West districts of the city.

As it celebrates the anniversary of its open borders on November 9, there will be exhibitions and events throughout the city. Along the site where the Wall once stood, a 12km light installation will represent the hope for a world without borders.

For those of us who watched the Wall come down live on television in 1989 it will be an emotional moment.

Today, the once-divided city remembers the victims of the division at numerous sites. At Bernauer Strasse, where building of the Wall started on August 13 1961, you'll find a moving memorial site with photos of people trying to escape from East to West, while the exquisite, modern open-air Chapel of Reconciliation is a testimonial to those who died trying to flee. But then, Germany is a remarkable nation, prepared to investigate its darker past -- from its former Nazi heritage, to the Soviet Occupation and brutal Communist regime that followed. In Berlin, you'll find Peter Eisenman's Holocaust Memorial, a forest of concrete pillars commemorating lives lost; while Daniel Libeskind's dramatic zig-zag Jewish Museum is one of the world's great museums.

This was my sixth visit to Berlin since 1989, so in addition to all the much loved landmarks (the Reichstag, Museum Island, Potsdamer Platz), I wanted to take the true pulse of the city and find out where insiders go.

I contacted Berlin artist Angelika Margull, who arranges bespoke art history tours, showing you the galleries, bars, shops and flea markets beyond the obvious tourist trail. Now that the eastern districts of the city, Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain, have become so trendy, artists are moving back into City West, the centre of former West Berlin, where studios are cheaper.

Thanks to Angelika's insider knowledge, we went to places only Berliners know. After a morning exploring galleries, we devoured ravioli at Sale e Tabacchi in Mitte, near Checkpoint Charlie. Then Angelika took us for supper at the wonderful Florian restaurant in Charlottenburg (George Clooney had been there only days before).

But Angelika also has an extraordinary connection to those darker days of Communism. …

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