Humboldt University and Bebelplatz
This famous university isn’t a visitor attraction in the true sense of the word, but its historical background makes it more than worthy of a review.
The main building is situated in Unter den Linden opposite Bebelplatz where the Old Library faces the Berlin State Opera House.
Outside the main building are two statues. One is of Wilhelm von Humboldt, the founder of the university in 1810, and the other one is of an explorer and natural scientist, Alexander von Humboldt, Wilhelm’s brother, who also happened to work at the university.
Along with his accomplices, Wilhelm adopted four classical faculties for Berlin University (as it was then called) – Law, theology, medicine, and philosophy. It was so successful that a total of 29 Nobel Prize winners passed through its doors, including Max Planck and Albert Einstein. Other historical figures who studied here were Otto von Bismarck and founders of the Marxist Theory Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.
Unofficial Memorial to Victims of the Berlin Wall
Anyone who walks between the Brandenburg Gate and The Reichstag can’t fail to notice 14 white crosses spread along a fence next to the Tiergarten. These crosses are obviously a memorial to those who died trying to get across the Berlin Wall, but they’re not supposed to be here – but why not?
It’s not because the authorities don’t want the events publicised because there’s an official memorial on the banks of the River Spree behind the Reichstag.
The reason that they’re not wanted is down to the man who has chosen to erect his own personal memorial here – a man by the name of Gustav Rust. It’s more than possible you’ll bump into Herr Rust if you walk along Ebertstrasse because he seems to be here most of the time.
Ever since the Brandenburg Gate was built it has become a symbol of the city.
It was constructed as a symbol of peace – but then became a Prussian symbol, a Nazi symbol, and then a symbol of the division between East and West. Since reunification it has once again become a symbol of peace, and so I can’t think of a more fitting place to start a tour of Berlin.
It was constructed between 1781 and 1791 for the Prussian monarchy that lived in the Crown Prince’s Palace in Unter den Linden. Designed by Carl Gotthard Langhans the arch was modelled on the entrance to the Acropolis in Athens and topped by the Quadriga designed by Johann Gottfried Schadow.
In 1806 Napoleon defeated the European coalition which included Prussia and on entering Berlin he took the Quadriga back home to Paris as a souvenir.
After Napoleon’s defeat in 1814 it was returned to the Brandenburg Gate and was declared a symbol of victory, and as if to reinforce the point, the Prussian eagle and iron cross inside a laurel wreath was added to the Goddess of Victory’s staff.