Once a hunting ground for Prussian monarchs, the lush Tiergarten park greens the center of Berlin from Bahnhof Zoo to the Brandenburg Gate. Strafie des 17. Juni, bisecting the park from west to east, is the site of demonstrations such as the Love Parade in mid-July.
HTHE REICHSTAG. The Reichstag is the current home of Germany’s governing body, the Bundestag. History has long been made here, from Philipp Scheide-mann’s 1918 proclamation Es lebe die Deutsche Republik (Long live the German Republic) to the 1933 fire that Adolf Hitler used as an excuse to declare a state of emergency and seize power. Recently, a glass dome has been added to the top; the dome is built around a solar cone that powers the building. A walkway spirals up the inside of the dome, leading visitors around a panoramic view to the top of the cone. f22 72 74 53. Open daily 8am-midnight; last entrance at 10pm. Free.)
SIEGESSAULE. In the heart of the Tiergarten, the slender 70m victory column commemorates Prussia’s defeat of France in 1870. The statue at the top the goddess of victory was made from melted-down French cannons. In a less-than-sub-tle affront to the French, the Nazis moved the monument here in 1938 in order to increase its height and visibility. Climb its 285 steps for a panorama of the city or leave your mark on the graffiti-covered interior, which has become a favorite forum of expression for the world’s touring youth. (GroBer Stem. Take bus #100 or 187 to GroBer Stern. Open Apr.-Nov. M l-6pm, Tu-Su 9am-6pm. ‚1.20, students ‚0.60.)
Potsdamer Platz, built under Friedrich Wilhelm I in an approximation of Parisian boulevards, was designed with the primary purpose of moving troops. After reunification, Potsdamer PI. was chosen to become the new commercial center of united Berlin and promptly achieved infamy as the city’s largest construction site. Today, its wildly postmodern architectural designs are by turns sickening and sublime. The central complex, overlooking Potsdamer Str. includes the towering Deutsche Bahn headquarters, the glossy UlSony Center, and the glass recreation of Mt. Fuji that covers the courtyard. Take in a movie, go window-shopping, or just sit and marvel at the glass and steel. (U2: Potsdamer PI.)
Several blocks south of Unter den Linden, this gorgeous Eastern Berlin Platz was considered the French Quarter in the 18th century, when it became the main settlement for Protestant Huguenots. Take U6 to Framosische Str. During the last week of June and the first week of July, the square becomes an outdoor stage for open-air classical concerts; call 69 80 75 22 for details.