This guide to iconic buildings and places in Berlin takes you on a journey into German history. The capital dates back to the 13th century, although many of the finest architectural feats were built after WWII. The allies divided Berlin into 4 separate zones following the fall of Nazi Berlin. Reunified in 1990, the city proudly keeps its heritage.

    UNESCO-listed monuments, modernist structures, and attractive public squares are just some of the many places you should visit in Berlin. Photographers – amateurs and professionals alike – are drawn to the captivating cityscape. Read on to discover the most famous landmarks of Berlin.

    1

    Brandenburg Gate

    One of Berlin’s most iconic historical landmarks

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    The Brandenburg Gate is a symbol of peace and unity in Germany. Located in Pariser Platz, this neoclassical monument was designed by Carl Gotthard Langhans and was built in the late-18th century.

    The 65.5 metre-long structure is topped with a quadriga (a chariot with 4 horses) and supported by 2 rows of Doric columns. The Brandenburg Gate welcomes many visitors throughout the year – an estimated 1 million people congregate around the monument on New Year’s Eve. Berlin’s last surviving city gate is a short walk from Pariser Platz, where you can find plenty of restaurants and bars.

    Location: Pariser Platz, 10117 Berlin, Germany

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    2

    Reichstag Building

    A historic building dating back to the late-19th century

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    The Reichstag is one of the most historic structures in Berlin. The 19th-century building currently houses the Bundestag, which is part of the German parliament.

    Reconstructed during the 1990s, the Reichstag features a large glass dome on its roof. You can visit the dome and terrace to enjoy expansive views of the city, but it’s best to book well beforehand to avoid long queues. Twenty-minute audioguides are available in many languages providing information about the Reichstag’s history and interesting nearby sites.

    Location: Platz der Republik 1, 11011 Berlin, Germany

    Open: Daily from 8 am to midnight

    Phone: +49 (0)302 2732152

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    3

    Potsdamer Platz

    A picturesque public square in central Berlin

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    Potsdamer Platz is a prominent modern hub in Berlin’s city centre. While the public square was destroyed in WWII, numerous reconstructions have been taking place since the German reunification. Today, it serves as the city’s commercial centre with many impressive postmodern landmarks. Must-sees include Kulturforum, Potsdamer Platz Arkaden, and Sony Center.

    Potsdamer Platz also hosts plenty of notable events throughout the year, including the Festival of Lights (September) and the Winter World Christmas Market (November–December). The square is next to Leipziger Platz, where you can continue sightseeing at the Spy Museum and Mall of Berlin.

    Location: Potsdamer Platz, 10785 Berlin, Germany

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    4

    Checkpoint Charlie

    An iconic crossing point between East and West Berlin

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    Checkpoint Charlie is worth a visit for its significant role in Berlin’s history. It’s a line of cobblestones that marks the former course of the Berlin Wall, serving as the crossing point between East and West Berlin. You can see a replica of the checkpoint booth and stacked sandbags on the original site.

    Check out the gallery walls along Friedrichstraße and Zimmerstraße showing the history of this Cold War icon. Nearby, there’s the interesting Wall Museum, which details the many imaginative methods which East Germans came up with to escape to the West.

    Location: Friedrichstraße 43-45, 10117 Berlin, Germany

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    5

    Berlin Cathedral

    Majestic 19th-century church fronting the Spree

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    The Berlin Cathedral is one of the largest religious landmarks in Germany’s capital. Built in the 1800s, this elaborate Protestant church is a mix of Italian High Renaissance and Baroque styles. Its most striking feature is a 114-metre-high dome that’s crowned by a gilded cross.

    Inside, you can see Wilhelm Sauer’s fully restored organ with 7,000 pipes, a marble and onyx altar designed by Friedrich August Stüler, and around 90 ornate sarcophagi. The Berlin Cathedral sits on Museum Island, between Lustgarten and the Spree.

    Location: Am Lustgarten, 10178 Berlin, Germany

    Open: Monday–Friday from 11 am to 6 pm, Saturday from 10 am to 2 pm, Sunday from noon to 4 pm

    Phone: +49 (0)302 0269136

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    6

    Bellevue Palace

    The official residence of the German President

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    The Bellevue Palace in Berlin is the official residence of the President of Germany. This grand neoclassical palace sits on the northern edge of Tiergarten, one of the largest parks in Berlin.

    You can usually only view the Bellevue Palace’s striking architecture and surrounding gardens from the outside. It opens its doors to the public once a year, giving you a chance to explore the president’s official residence. Tiergarten is a great place to unwind with views of the palace and the Spree, which often has ferries cruising on the water.

    Location: Spreeweg 1, 10557 Berlin, Germany

    Phone: +49 (0)302 0000

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    7

    East Side Gallery

    Part of the Berlin Wall with over 100 murals

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    The East Side Gallery is a 1.3 km-long section of the iconic Berlin Wall in Mühlenstraße. Once a divider of East and West Berlin for over 30 years, it now serves as both a memorial and a permanent open-air gallery. You can see a series of murals by artists from around the world.

    Many of the artworks have strong political messages, while others are symbols of peace. A highlight is My God, Help Me to Survive This Deadly Love, which depicts a kiss between Leonid Brezhnev and Erich Honecker. On Saturdays, you can join a guided tour by the Berlin Wall Foundation – commentaries are available in English and German.

    Location: Mühlenstraße 3-100, 10243 Berlin, Germany

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    8

    New Synagogue Berlin

    Germany’s largest Jewish place of worship

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    The New Synagogue Berlin is an iconic Jewish landmark in the capital of Germany. Established in 1866, this restored synagogue serves the city’s Jewish community with a 3,000-seater main hall, a prayer room, an assembly hall, a learning space, and a sizable library.

    The New Synagogue Berlin also has a permanent exhibition, Open ye the Gates, with photos, paintings, artefacts, and historical records detailing the building’s history and Germany’s Jewish community. Its facade stands out from Berlin’s modern structures thanks to its landmark gilded dome and Moorish features.

    Location: Oranienburger Str. 28-30, 10117 Berlin, Germany

    Open: Friday from 10 am to 3 pm, Sunday–Thursday from 10 am to 6 pm (closed on Saturdays)

    Phone: +49 (0)308 8028300

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    9

    Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church

    Romanesque Revival-style church in Breitscheidplatz

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    The Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church is a reconstruction of a 19th-century Protestant church that was destroyed during WWII. The current structure was built between 1959 and 1963, right next to a damaged spire of the old church.

    The Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church serves as an important landmark in western Berlin. The walls resemble concrete honeycombs with over 21,000 stained-glass windows. Inside, you can see a suspended figure of the Christ, a 5,000-pipe organ, Kurt Reuber’s charcoal drawing of the Virgin Mary, and a 13th-century Spanish wooden crucifix.

    Location: Breitscheidplatz, 10789 Berlin, Germany

    Open: Daily from 9 am to 7 pm

    Phone: +49 (0)302 185023

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    10

    Velodrom

    Multipurpose arena with an impressive UFO-shaped design

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    Velodrom is an impressive architectural masterpiece by Dominique Perrault, who won the German Award for Architecture in 1992. This multipurpose arena features a UFO-shaped design topped with Europe's largest steel roof – at 142 metres in diameter. It’s part of a larger complex that houses 2 Olympic pools and a multisport hall.

    Velodrom can accommodate 12,000 people, making it one of Berlin’s largest concert halls. Prominent artists who have performed here include Janet Jackson, Daft Punk, and Rammstein. The building has been hosting the annual Six Days of Berlin track cycling race since 1999.

    Location: Paul-Heyse-Straße 26, 10407 Berlin, Germany

    Phone: +49 (0)304 43045

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    Penny Wong | Compulsive Traveller

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