By my third day in Berlin, I was majorly dragging and had developed a cough on top of the cold, so I intended to see the new synagogue and museum island, which were close together. The new synagogue was stunning, but had a VERY Prussian look to it even with the big round dome, green and gold coloring and a spire out the top.
It turned out that the synagogue wasn’t as close as I thought and/or I got lost because I found Bode Museum easily, but then ended up in the middle of some random neighborhood. By the time I found my way out, it was time for brunch. The wind blew some of my rice onto the table and I acquired a little friend. Hopefully cooked rice won’t hurt it!
After lunch, it was a nice little walk through the columns and past the Alte (old) National Gallery to the Pergamon Museum. I’ve since learned that the whole museum island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Sadly, the Pergamon area is closed for renovations, but that was clearly noted at the entrance – this is important to mention because, as I was sitting and admiring the lovely Ishtar Gate to Babylon, a lady got angry with the museum employee and claimed she only bought the ticket for the Pergamon Museum to see the Pergamon room and how dare they sell tickets when it’s closed. The employee suggested returning to the desk to see about a refund, which is when the woman said (in heavily accented English), “shame on you people,” tore her ticket in half and threw it at the poor woman! It’s really appalling how you see people act sometimes. First, it’s hardly that particular woman’s fault the room is closed and, unlike the chateau, it was clearly signed at the desk BEFORE paying that areas were closed. So, back to the Ishtar Gate – wow! I’d seen one of the lions at the British Museum, but this was incredible!
The bricks were numbered so it was possible to reconstruct it as it stood originally, although it was in ruins when found. There was also the long processional of lions that would have lined your walk on the way to the king.
The next room also had an incredible display of a reconstructed ruin, the Market gate of Miletus. I particularly liked this intricate carving of Eros from 120-130 AD.
The rest of the museum focused on Middle Eastern art, some of which duplicated things I’d already seen. I’d highly recommend buying the museums’ pass and seeing several in one day to get your money’s worth. These lions were a unique item dating from 10-8 BC and were from the inner gate of the citadel at Sam’al in Turkey.
There were two prayer niches that really highlighted the clever carvings and bright colors used. It was interesting to learn that the use of cobalt originated in the Middle East prior to white and cobalt blue porcelain becoming popular from China.
The next thing I saw that really fascinated me was a full room, practically a full small house, that was purchased and displayed – interestingly enough, the details identify the original owner as a Christian. It’s from the city of Aleppo in Syria dated 1600-1603.
After a couple of hours here, I headed to the Neues (new) Museum. As far as the Egyptian collection goes, if you’ve seen the British Museum, you can easily skip it. One of the most interesting parts about the museum is seeing what’s left after the museum was heavily damaged in the war. They’re slowly restoring the rooms in the best condition and combining it with modern rooms where they couldn’t save enough of the old structure. These cupolas had actually been covered by a false ceiling, but they’re visible again now and will be restored.
The Egyptian area is now in the basement and the most unique thing I saw there was a child mummy who was actually Roman. It appears Romans in the area adapted Egyptian customs and this family was mummified in 24 AD.
In the old Egyptian rooms, you can see that the rooms were themed in the past based on what was displayed there (and often brightly-colored).
In another room, one end had the doorway with the purple, green and painted sections mostly intact, but the rest of the room was much more damaged.
There was another area of unique items found in recent digs in Berlin. While these appear to be minerals at first glance they’re actually glass beads that melted together during the fire bombing of Berlin in 1945.
While you can’t take pictures of the bust of Nephertiti, you can photograph the museum’s other significant holding – the gold hat. One of only 4 and the best preserved from 1,000-800 BC.
While the Pergamon Museum was “wow,” I wasn’t really impressed with the Neues Museum. It seems they weren’t able to save items during the war and several signs indicated the Soviets looted the city, in violation of International Law, and have refused to return many of the items to this day. As a result, many of the rooms had very little in them, which is unfortunate.
Since I had the full day pass, I headed to the Alte Museum to try my luck there. I mean, the exterior is impressive, so why not?
They had a really nice collection of ancient currency, including coins from Athens stamped with the head of Athena to indicate where it was minted, which are from the 5th-4th century BC.
They also had an area showcasing some old Roman items that had been restored in later centuries, sometimes incorrectly! This is a really nice griffin . . . until you learn that they now believe it was originally a sphinx.
There were a lot of really nice sculpture pieces, like this goddess from Italy 475-450 BC. She lacks enough identifying features to determine which goddess she is.
I’ll say one thing for the Altes Museum – they have a flair for the dramatic! There was a full room setup like a war scene with the gods and goddesses watching.
Another intriguing room discussed how the Romans started copying old Greek styles as their civilization declined. This is a well-preserved example from ~150 AD of Amor and Psyche.
From 1 to 6 PM, when they closed, I easily made it through all 3 museums. Since I was right by it, time for one close-up of the Berliner Dom!
I couldn’t resist a quick picture of the little East Berlin crossing signal, especially with the church tower and TV tower in the background. East Berliners liked their old crossing signals, so they’ve brought them back and it’s an easy indicator as to what part of the city you’re in.
Berlin is just full of picturesque things, like this fountain with (I believe) the red city hall behind. I came upon this while simply looking for the nearest subway station (Note the crane in the background – construction everywhere).
Since my camera was dead the first time, I found time to visit the Reichstag Tor again, this time I was able to get some nice photos! It appears the Brandenburger Tor stop used to be called Unter den Linden though! I was hoping for some cool history, but the stop name was changed because a line is under construction now that will have a stop closer to the Prussian buildings on that street. The stop does have the interesting history of being an unused “ghost stop” during the period of the wall though.
I decided to listen to the audioguide this time and learned this is where some of the rapeseed oil goes – it powers the building! Here are photos from the terrace of the Reichstag:
And the dome itself . . . with people resembling a little colony of ants!
While hard to see the stars here, this is an amazing experience! Go here at night!
And one last shot of the Brandenburger Tor at full dark!