Berlin

Welcome to Berlin

Berlin is acknowledged the world over as a cultural melting pot of creative cool. In the dark underground clubs, cutting-edge music is sending crowds into an all-night frenzy; in tumbledown pre-war houses, groundbreaking art is being conjured by creative communes; and behind unmarked doors, guerrilla supper clubs are performing culinary wizardry.

What makes this all the more impressive is that in the last century alone Berlin was spiritually ransacked by fascism, devastated by war, divided ideologically and physically by politics, and left in ruins. And yet it hasn’t so much as restored itself to a former glory, but revolutionised to become something completely different, unlike any other capital.

Berlin is stoically independent and fiercely resists the inevitable march of gentrification that turns creative ghettos into boho chic enclaves. It was the cheap rents that first attracted artists like Warhol and Bowie that got the heady days of the Weimar Republic started, but as rents go up, the creatives, free thinkers and students are priced out; the latest target for refinement being Neukölln.

But Berliners are in uproar; they don’t want central Berlin to become an identikit town or for their gritty derelict aesthetic to be made nice. This anti-commercialism is fascinating in a country that is probably the most financially stable of any in the EU. But what it does mean is that whether you’re walking the glamorous streets of Charlottenberg or through the shambles of West Kreuzberg, this is a lived in city and there is an opportunity to find the ‘real’ Berlin on almost every corner.

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Quick facts

  • Inhabitants in Germany:
    81.7 million
  • Inhabitants in Berlin:
    3.4 million
  • Official language
    German
  • Currency
    Euro
  • Time zone
    + 1 GMT
  • Emergency number
    112
  • Constitution
    Federal Parliamentary Republic
  • Country phone code
    + 49
  • Country code
    DE, DEU
  • Local transportation
    Bus, Tram, S-Bahn, U-Bahn, Ferry