the United Colours of Africa
Musicians, festivals, initiatives and developments present exciting new trends in music and artitsic sustainability, history, architecture and cmonumental tourist attractions.
The Berlin Zoo was founded in the middle of the 19 th C in the countryside. And the city grew all around, therefore for its territory, it is rather small but for the amount of animals it is big if you count insects and fish. And for East Berlin there is a second one.
We have a got a fantastic cultural life also because of the separation of the cities. We had new symphony orchestra's for East and West .
All the buildings here are mainly 1950s, like the Bikinihaus which really consisted of two buildings. The second one did not exist, it was helping ventilate the zoo behind.
The cinema you see used to host the big premieres for the Berlin film festival in February. But this has moved today to Potsdamer Platz which is another centre of Berlin. But for West Berlin the jazz festival and film festival were founded in order to have Berlin on the cultural map in the Western world. So, we inherited something positive from this.
You see two new high rise buildings showing the West is also on the move. Berlin is changing dramatically in a positive way but in the 90s for example, West Berliners were complaining that the more prestigious office addresses had been altered in the historic city centre. There have been changes going on in some famous café's, restaurants closed over there, but it is coming back and there are lots of discussions about this in the Berlin press. It is a bit more upmarket and much more expensive on the new ridge West of Berlin.
There is also a train station. International trains like the Paris Moscow used to stop there. But nowadays we have a new central station. There have been West Berliners writing petitions to the government that this should remain the international train station. Berlin had about 3.5 Million inhabitants for a very long time. In the 90s after the wall came down there were expectations that many companies would come back to Berlin, such as Deutsche Bank had been founded in Berlin and not in Frankfurt , but because of the insecure situation in the 50s, and 90s after the wall came down, so many companies moved away. Siemens for example is big in Bavaria. It was also founded in Berlin and was big here. The banks moved away. The fashion industry had been concentrated over here. Nowadays they are coming slowly back with some fashion fares. In the 90s the city of Berlin was expecting all these companies to come back which did not happen. Only Sony rearranged their European businesses and decided to go to Berlin - one of the few major companies moving to Berlin. In the last year we had a plus of 40 – 50 000 new Berliners. This is already changing the real estate market. Today it has been difficult to find an apartment. We were very lucky in the year 2000 as there were 1000 empty apartments, we had the choice, it didn't cost much and therefore Berlin was attracting so many younger people. Here as opposed to other European cities you could live as an artist or musician and really dedicate your life to your work and just having one job and not like in New York having several jobs in order to finance your life. This was first set for the creative industries and nowadays for some start-up companies and compared to London or Paris it is really rather cheap to live here.
Theatre of the West: this is a typical theatre from around 1900 and here in between is Quasimodo, a jazz club. This is one of the old ones. Here underneath the Delphi cinema which for me is one of the old traditional places, but Berlin doesn't have very old places. Something that has been founded in the 50s is already very old for Berlin standards, unlike Bavaria or Cologne where you have breweries which exist a few hundred years. This tradition was cut off by Nazi Germany because of the separation, so Berlin is a rather young city. There is a jazz scene up here - especially Charlottenburg is an intellectual area. In the 60s when all the companies moved away we didn't have any traditional elites in Berlin. Here in Savignyplatz there are some nice old houses, some of the bigger ones around Kurfürstendamm had about 500-600 M2. This was the luxury West. But when the families moved out late in the 60s 70s students moved in together into these huge apartments and there was more like an intellectual scene. In West Berlin society consisted more of professors, actors, artists less than bankers and politicians because they all moved away. Still today Berlin is a rather open society compared to Hamburg and Munich where there are still old families. We don't have this.
You will see with all the book stores that this is really the intellectual area of West Berlin. It is a bit older. The average age in Charlottenberg is 10 years higher than in Kreuzberg Friedrichshain . If you go to some of the traditional cafes and restaurants many of the people are white haired. It is a generation that got older but it also has a neighbourhood feeling to it. The village like feeling is very important for Berlin. It is a big city with a few million inhabitants but it always feels like a village or a small town.
A-trane is a rather new jazz club, '93. The tradition of jazz renewed.
This is now Kurfürstendamm, Main Boulevard of this area was done around 1900. Politician Bismarck wanted to extend the city of Berlin and planned it in a regular way and after the example of Paris. Here were the big revue theatres in the 20s. There are no revue theatres anymore. There is a private theatre. There also used to be huge cinemas for a few thousand people. There still are a few but many of them have been transformed into shops. There are still people living here, so the centre of Charlottenberg is not dead but it is still lively in the evening when the shops are closed and the offices are closed, there are still some theatres, cinemas, restaurants cafes and this is very typical of Berlin unlike some West Germany cities where the city centre is dead after shopping hours.
There had been this move toward former East Berlin or the gap between East and West like the government centre Potsdamer Platz. All this was done at once and nowadays it is the second wave of construction and I really gave up counting cranes. There are some companies reorganising their German business and moving their headquarters to Berlin, therefore there is so much construction going on.
The inner city is a circle line that makes one ring in one hour around the city centre. There is so much activity and changes going on that I am like a tourist in my own city. Sometimes I go to the district of Steglitz or Tegel which are not very central; it is like visiting a different town. There are always new people coming to Berlin discovering new areas.
My generation never liked Marzahn, it was a rather depressing area, former working class with lots of pensioners and people out of jobs. And then some internationals came and said no it is green, nice and cheap and central. And suddenly you have the new wave of people moving to Berlin especially in this Marzahn and there are some bars where no one is speaking German. There will be Japanese people speaking Spanish. It is a truly international mix. And compared to international cities it is cheap which is really welcoming people so you don't feel excluded.
Here in the middle of the street is a sculpture by Machinsky Beninghof, a couple of Berlin artists symbolising the two halves of Berlin, as you can see there is a gap in between. Here is the Ellington Hotel it used to be the famous jazz club Badewanne like the Bath tub. It was very important for the 50s. They were influenced by the American forces and the American radio.
Here to the right is KDV and it is rather surprising that in the poor West Berlin the biggest luxury department store survived. And they are redesigning it and it is becoming more and more exclusive. There is one 2000 M2 floor just for handbags and ladies shoes. They are redesigning it. We have increasing numbers of tourists. This is changing and making Berlin more lively. It is more international.
In between there are these nice neighbourhoods like Kurfürstendamm. In front of this is where the city was rebuilt in a more functional way. There was an amusement area and some famous revue theatres over here but destroyed in WW2 and rebuilt in a not so inviting style.
Berlin consists of many different villages and small towns and I have friends that never leave their part of the city.
We will go towards Potsdamer Platz along the Park Tiergarten which was originally founded outside the city limits of Berlin. And in front of us we will see the district with lots of embassies.
In between the canals and the Park Tiergarten there are mainly embassies and political institutions. It is a bit like an international building exhibition. There are several new embassies under construction. On the left the green building is the so called Nordic embassy, meaning there are 5 embassies on this corner, Sweden, Finland. And there is a sixth hall which they use as common for lectures and films. A small country like Iceland couldn't afford something like this but they really cooperate. It is unique. Most embassies have big public spaces for exhibitions. This generation of embassies is also a means of public relations for countries. There is even a day of the open door for embassies. East Berlin had embassies, West Berlin had consulates. There was not a big pressure on it so only step by step now the countries are opening.
Here is a foundation close to the conservative party. And here a modern Arabian building so it is a mix. The Japanese and Italian embassies are from the 30s. They had been ruins. They had trees growing out of the roofs in the 80s. There were some proposals to let the ruins fall apart like some romantic extension of the Park Tiergarten. Nowadays they are used but they are much too big and monumental, so they are renting some spaces as they don't need an embassy of this size. The geography is completely mixed up – Italy next to Turkey, then South Africa. The Indian one is done by a Berlin architect but after some examples of Indian architecture. The stone is also important. It is an open embassy. There is something special for the German Federal State, who also have something like an embassy: the white one. The Federal State with Stuttgart as a capital are trying to attract people, like during the film festival there will be receptions. They are trying to promote.
In front of us is the West Berlin Culture Forum meaning several sites where museums are concentrated. We see the back part of the museum of arts and crafts and the Philharmonic in front right with its tent like form. It is important for the acoustic inside. So, the orchestras in the hall of chamber music and the philharmonic are seated in the middle of the room. And therefore the outer shape is done by the acoustics.
They are trying to attract a younger audience so the Berlin Philharmonic are doing every Tuesday lunch concerts for free in the lobby and they attract about 1500 people. The average age of classical concert goers is about 60, meaning a range of 40 to 80 so they try to get a younger and broader audience and they are even doing concerts for kids 2 – 5 years old. The Berlin orchestras are trying not to be exclusive but opening up with casual concerts with the Deutsche symphony orchestra for 15 Euro and some nights where DJ's are playing after hours. Berlin Philharmonic is also doing late night concerts at 10:30PM with more modern pieces. This would be a nice example. Normally you see people at 1 o clock streaming to the Philharmonic.
Here we are at Potsdamer Platz. There are so many cinemas even with the original versions of some films. The films are always synchronised. Here there used to be a no-mans land. Potsdamer Platz used to be one of the very metropolitan places of Berlin. The big department stores are built here in Leipziger Strasse . Here were the empty space is in front there used to be a huge train station. All the people from West and South Germany arrived here and because of the train station there would be huge hotels and restaurants for a few thousand people. All this was completely gone in the 50s. Houses were in ruins. Older Berliners told me they went to cinemas in some of those ruins, but because water was going through the whole area, the ruins had been torn down in order to control the situation.
On the West there is a line of cobble stones on the pavement which is where the Berlin Wall used to be. And in front you see one of the old houses but from the old Metropolitan part of the city. Only 2 and a half houses survived. This area was a little like Times Square in New York. The massive inner city district suddenly looked like it was in the middle of nowhere. Perhaps you remember the film Wings of Desire by Wim Wenders? This was filmed when this really looked like a grey desert and not like an inner city district. Germans are obsessed by this area and all tourists are coming here in order to see how it is redone. The investors here were forced to include apartments in this new project. There are cinemas and restaurants. This mix of users really helped to make it lively in the night time and evening. Of course there is a shopping mall.
Here is the Marlene Dietrich square where there is the Berlin film festival. Premieres take place here. There will be a huge red carpet and the huge theatre is used as the cinema during February. There are some theatres and a casino. You see the mix with hotels and office buildings, but only 50%offices. I have been to the Docklands in London and was an alien not wearing a suit and tie. So this really became a lively part of the city centre. The investors called it the new centre of Berlin. With the TV tower and Potsdamer Platz, there are three city centres in Berlin
During the construction phase a third of what was built is underground. They kept the trees over here so therefore this street still has a rather traditional feel. This was done in the 90s so the gap between East and West had been closed. The Philharmonic was the last building on the Western side. There had been nothing until Berlin Wall. And then there had been a stretch of no man's land and then a second wall towards East Berlin and also this area was neglected. So this area was closed almost completely during the 90s. You will see how much is new and nothing had been torn down.
On the pavement on the square to our right side you could guess that there was a Berlin wall. And here in front of us there is the line of cobblestones coming to the right. The square in front of us Liepziger Platz did not exist. It is a dramatic change.
The blue pipes, I don't see them anymore. You have to imagine the ground water level in Berlin is quite high. After 2 – 3 Metres on a construction site you already touch the ground water so this has to be pumped away from the constructions site to the next canal and the next river. It is a contemporary thing, but they are everywhere for a very long time because once a construction site is finished then the next one starts. That is why I don't see them anymore. But you will see them all over town.
In front of us is Brandenburg gate which used to be the city gates. There had been a wooden fence, parallel to this street. Therefor by the right side there had been some Baroque palaces which were used as Prussian and later German ministries over here. And therefore this area was called Minister Gardens. The ministers had huge gardens because they were using Baroque palaces. The government owned this ground and therefore there are a few other embassies of the Federal states of Germany and of course the holocaust memorial. We had a private initiative in the 90s saying we had to commemorate the holocaust and the government said we had to have it here. It is very big almost out of scale, but today it is a success. So many tourists are coming for Potsdamer Platz and Brandenburg gate so everyone is confronted with it.
My parents' generation were dreaming about driving through Brandenburg gate because this became a symbol for the separation of the city. What used to be an entrance to the city where people were controlled, taxes were asked for and goods were brought, it became a symbol of the separation and it was not used as a gate for a long time.
Even though this is an exclusive address we see the sign in front Felix club and for the first time I heard Till Brönner was in there. Normally this is too up market. The music scene in Berlin is much more casual.
Here to the left you get the view over Potsdamer Platz and you see the tent like roof over Sony Centre which is lit in the evening from the outside. And there is the huge Park Tiergarten in front of us which is like a huge settle park and originally it used to be a hunting area for the Prussian kings in the 1700s. Here you see the Brandenburg gate and from the side that is the goddess of victory of course riding into the city. And as I said it stood for a very long time all alone and only the 90s this gap was closed. We are following the outline of the Berlin Wall, this line of cobblestones is to our left. Here this corner Reagan asked Mr Gorbachev to please open the wall. As a cold war rhetoric I thought it was a bit overdone but two years later it really happened. When you remember people standing on top of the Berlin Wall celebrating that it had been opened, it could only have been over here because here the wall was very thick as they were scared that tanks might break through.
When you came by airplane to Berlin you could see the difference between East and West by the density of cars on the streets. In front of us is the Reichstag Building which is the old seat of parliament done at the end of the 19 th C. But at this time we had three different classes of voters. Women were not allowed to vote, therefore we were not too keen to reuse it in the 90s when there was the decision to move the parliament to Berlin. We had to prove we were good Europeans so the German parliament was done by a British architect, Norman Foster designed this dome. And inside it is quite a modern very functional building. And the outside had been renovated but you can still see some traces where bullet holes had been. It was a way of renovating the building to show the traces of history as well.
Over here is the new government district. There was this idea of having the new government buildings in one long line linking symbolically East and West. This is the Chancellery where Mrs Merkel has her office and also the visitors of State, Mrs Trump is in Berlin. On the right side the long building is for different committees. And on the other side of the river Spree, the former East Berlin bank is the scientific service of the library of parliament; so it is this long link between East and West. You see the dome of the Reichstag building by Norman Foster. It is only a hall of meeting rooms for the different parties. Office halls have been created all around. There is an idea of having 2000 working places around the Reichstag building.
You see the red flag in front of us is the Swiss embassy. You have to imagine this was a really up market neighbourhood over here. There had been some embassies and ministries. In the 30s Adolf Hitler and his architect Albert Speer, there had been ideas of building over here the biggest dome in the world, so they were buying up all the houses over here and destroying them. The dome would be for about 150 – 200 000 people and would be built at the top of the river Spree. Lots of houses were torn down but not much was built so the new government could create a new government district within the city.
In front with the DV sign is the new central station building. We never had a central station but a series of terminuses. This was opened in 2006. Only now where there is a change in real estate, suddenly all these new houses were built over here – mainly hotels with a view to the so-called New Berlin. On the other side behind the train station there are some high-rise buildings for offices and there will be big apartment complexes. It is one gap that will be closed between former East and West.
In summer when it is warmer, to the right on the banks of the river there will be some outdoor parties there will be lots of venues where people are playing music outdoors. I went for a walk through the park on the river and there were musicians everywhere.
If you look to the right you will see Potsdamer Platz and this impressive piece of land which was one construction site, a forest of cranes in the 90s when these former gaps were closed. It is still not finished. The rest has waited for a long time and over the last two years the rest has been done on this side of the river. Here you see the link, these two bridges in between the two parts of the government district.
Berlin is a patchwork out of different styles and different periods. Berlin sometimes you have the impression just when turning around that you are in a completely different city.
Here in front of us is an older part of the city which is early 19 th C with smaller houses and narrower streets. Berlin is 775 years old but you almost don't see it. It is rather small at the beginning and then slowly growing until enormously growing at the end of the 19 th C because of the industrial revolution. For example here to our left side we see lots of brick buildings and high-rise buildings. This was originally a hospital that was founded more than 300 years ago outside of the city and the city grew all around. Berlin had almost 700 000 inhabitants in 1870 and 1930 it had 4.5 million. Almost 4 million in 60 years, it was really a boom town at the end of the 19 th C. There are some nice narrow streets and some very special buildings; the former bomb shelter which was done in WW2 as a shelter. And then in GDR times it was used for storing goods like bananas which needed to be cooled and when the wall came down it became a famous place for some almost legal parties. The techno scene started over here and now it is privately owned by an art collector. He has his art collection and a penthouse on top of the building.
This is how much Mitte has changed. When I was in this area for the first time during GDR times, we encountered the time tunnel because we really felt like being in the 1950s and 60s and definitely in a black and white film. But nowadays all the houses are renovated. The whole street plaster was falling apart, the balconies were coming down. It was in a bad state. There had been some privately owned houses. Not much had been invested in it and therefore these houses had been really run down and only when the wall came down so many young people moved into these buildings. Older people preferred to live in pre-fab buildings and high rise buildings, therefore this part of Mitte was really the lively part for the younger generation. First artists or self-declared artists moved in here; musicians of course as well. It was a very artistic scene. There were lots of illegal places. There was one company appointed by the city of Berlin that was in charge of all these buildings. And they said it is better that these houses will be used instead of falling apart. There is a dance company called Sasha Waltz which is world famous. The Goethe Institute are sending them everywhere. They are collaborating with fashion designers and musicians. The theatre to our right side for example, this is Tagalis where you see graffiti. It was part of a former department store.
Passing the Musik Initiative offices! This is where lots of cultural agencies would rather move here and leave Kurfürstendamm where they could have sleek bigger offices but it there are lots of publishing houses and record companies over here. This company of the city of Berlin were giving away some empty spaces to artists who wanted to do exhibitions, some famous galleries developed out of this. Sasha Waltz became a famous dance company. Some people are programming music for them. We are having now computer companies up here. Big names fashion designers today had this kind of collaboration. You had to know where something was happening. There would be a Tuesday bar, a Thursday bar – places like this. All these people didn't have business plans it was kind of doing what they wanted. You could really live on a low budget. One of the guys from Sasha Waltz company told me they were living on 200 marks a month. I don't know how they managed but it was really the creative area of Berlin. People moved in, commercial galleries followed; the fashion scene and over here lots of advertising agencies.
Here we are close to the border which was neglected for quite a long time.
And nowadays the start-ups also came for the same reason that it was cheap, international and there is a critical mass of people. Suddenly there are big big companies taking over. There offices are over here so parts of Mitte are really becoming an office district, so some younger people are already complaining that Mitte is too chic and too expensive. But Berlin is big enough there are so many other areas which are very lively at the moment. Like we saw this one bomb shelter as a museum there are already several private museums in Mitte showing the contrast from poor artists to rich collectors. Nowadays if there are new houses being built it is for people making their millions with the internet and new media. It is the next generation here who don't want to live in a suburb and don't want to commute but rather want to live in an inner city. This part is also international so there are Americans, international schools, there is a Chinese kindergarten. And also a jazz club opened here in the 90s, Bb. They had to change their address because it is becoming more and more expensive and where there used to be a unique Berlin fashion design, nowadays you have Adidas. At the moment the new hipster area would be Kreuzberg .
You still see the traces of WW2, perhaps some houses have been built but not rebuilt. They can still be everywhere in every district. Nowadays all the gaps will be closed, we have 40-50 000 new Berliners in the last years, so the real estate market is changing so in 5 years the gaps won't exist anymore. It is still kind of a post-war situation that we still have to rebuild the city.
We go to see some authentic part of the wall. The same people who were building the wall, were also destroying it. The wall had been opened in '89 but the GDR was persisting for another and during this time, they were destroying the Berlin Wall and tearing it down without a clear plan. In some areas there are still some pieces and it is difficult to see where it used to be. There is this authentic part which we will visit which still looks like 80s. And there is another part called the East Side Gallery, so in the 90s after the wall was opened artists from all over the world painted some pieces of it, so it looks colourful and funny. But the Berlin Wall was nothing funny. And then there is a third one close to Potsdamer Platz where people in a cold war mentality tried to destroy it or tourists tried to take a piece with them. It hasn't been protected by a fence. It only has these three pieces.
Where we go is an official wall memorial. There is a documentary centre and films and photographs illustrating this very strange situation of East and West Berlin and you have to imagine during a conference in Yalta in WW2 between allied forces they said they will divide Germany in different zones, and Berlin in different sectors, so the historic became East Berlin and the former Berlin suburbs in the West became the French, British and American sector, and during the 50s you could still walk over to East Berlin. There had been people working in the East living in the West or the other way round. It is impossible to divide an intact city but in '61 they really did it. In the 50s 2 million people left the GDR illegally, pretending to visit relatives or go to the West Berlin, they just took a bag with them and left their households behind. It was the brain drain. Well trained people like doctors and engineers were leaving the GDR and therefore the Berlin Wall was built in order to keep the old people in.
The subway line was a Western one crossing East Berlin underground and there were train stations closed in '61 with border patrols standing there sometimes. We call them the ghost trains.
In Bernauerstrasse you can still read it and see it where some houses were torn down in order to make a controllable border.
In front of us the first part of the Berlin Wall is rough, people were picking at it trying to get a souvenir, but we get one piece which is closed off by two steel walls, it is the official memorial, there is no graffiti on it. And you can see this stretch of no-man's land with some watch towers for patrolling cars. It is completely preserved.
In Berlin we have lots of nice parks which have been former train stations or terminuses that have been out of use because of the separation of towns and the Berlin Wall, so the train stations were not used for 30-40 years and now both of them are transformed into nice parks. And we have more beach volleyball here then Rio but it is just importing tonnes of sand for having the beach parks. It is a new fashion.
In front of us is the Berlin Wall and a steel element where they depicted where the Berlin Wall used to be. And you see some photographs on the houses to our right. And there were two walls one towards the West and an improvised one towards the East. But the area was heavily controlled you needed a special permit to visit someone who was living close to the Berlin Wall. This is the official memorial with its two steel walls closing it off.
Here is Mitte former East Berlin. They were completely run down but you got tax reductions if you invested in here. A new generation moved in and there are already German newspapers making fun of this area. Like there is one square Kaiserplatz which is meant to be the most fertile area in Germany. Students moved into this area, and not having good jobs, academics started here with their families. It is a very homogenous area; a French correspondent, an American scientist, some Turkish Arabian people like in former West Berlin District. It is more of a mono-culture. You would have yoga courses for babies, organic food – a whole infrastructure came with it.
Bobo is Bohemian Bourgeois and a bit more in between. It is very nice, an old area from the 1900s and has very nice areas. It is a bit more like a cliché of itself so we like to make fun of it. There have been so many artists, musicians moving into this area. Nowadays it is rather difficult to find some things as it became quite expensive. This will be typical of Berlin. All around the inner city districts there is a ring of neighbourhoods from around 1900 and they are quite nice. And there is lots of street-life going on. Some streets are quite lively with lots of bars, restaurants cafes and the side street might be purely residential. This neighbourhood life is typical for Berlin and quite special. Savignyplatz would be middle aged about 30 something. The next generation students or younger people would go to other districts like Kreuzberg because they are cheaper and you can start something up there like a new club or concert venue and also for classical music there are private venues nowadays.
Berlin is very famous for its temporary spaces. People don't have to invest much money but they can use it for a certain time. And we had lots of exhibitions in some of these houses.
In Mitte there is a café on the corner and years ago it was the first place that had free wireless. You always saw some people with their laptops sitting there. So, lots of start-ups started here in this area when it was quite cheap. An American journalist called this street Torstrasse, Silicon Allee because there had been so many start-ups beginning here like Zalando which is a really big fashion retailer and they started in the basement here very small and now they have thousands of people working for them. Today if you start up it would be rather expensive to rent over here. But there are still lots of offices Mozilla, Soundcloud have their offices here. But we could say it started with St. Oberholz café on the corner. The café was much too big as a café so the other floor was rented out as a co-working space. You can rent a space there. This is Mitt and here there were lots of clubs.
Friederichstrasse used to be more like an entertainment district. It became the newspaper district close to Checkpoint Charlie. And it is changings its character from block to block. When the Wall came down this was one construction site even though the facades have been all done in new. The Westerners were thinking of Prada and Gucci coming here and now we have H and M and some bakeries. But it is very lively because of so many tourists coming up to Berlin. It is a bit like Kurfürstendamm, an upmarket area, lots of luxury hotels, gourmet restaurants with Michelin stars. The character is changing from block to block. There is even one house with a fancy jewellery store on the ground floor but if you go inside you think you are in a cultural palace, there would even be a Russian cinema in there.
Here on the left is the first gallery La Fayette outside of France. They started with a regular programme not too expensive, not too luxurious. We are coming to Jean Damme Martz. We have a French name for a German square. In the 18 th C Berlin had a population of up to 20% foreigners. They would be mainly refugees from Europe that moved to the not to densely populated Prussia which was even attracting all those people so skilled craftsmen and from the Netherlands there would be refugees and Huguenots from France and therefore we have a French dome over here, and also there are many German words in the German dialect where people would say it is typical Berlin but it has a French origin like Boulette and the whole area used to be the Berlin banking district. But because of the insecure situation all the banks moved to Frankfurt which is now the financial capital of Germany.
Here is the French dome it is also nowadays a museum for the French Huguenots. In the middle it is called Konzerthaus, so this is the East Berlin concert hall. It used to be a theatre but there are photos from the 70s when it was still in ruins and was renovated in the 80s. It is smaller than the Philharmonic. It is really nice, there would be open air concerts, students playing outdoors. The Theatre has a cinema. If you take this view it looks like an 18 th C square but there are modern buildings all around. There is the school of music and we have two in Berlin, for East and West. Germany you don't have to pay for study so the schools of music are really attracting people from all over the world.
There is a statue of Frederick the great. His idea was extending this park and under his reign this square was built which was also used for the burning of the books in 1933, organised by people from the university. For example if you go into the Egyptian museum, from the old stair case you can see the enormous bullet holes because they have also preserved these traces of our history.
I grew up in West Germany and it looked like nothing ever happened over there: whereas here in Berlin we are always confronted by our own history. In front of us is the pavilion to provoke the project of reconstruction of this palace which was a decision by the German parliament. When it was torn down it was done overnight and there had been no protest. This side used to be the so called Palace of the Republic, which was the seat of the GDR parliament – parliament with a 99% decision. This was torn down later on because too much asbestos had been used in there. Already in GDR times there were people protesting against unhealthy working conditions and therefore when the wall came down, there was a decision to tear it down, under protest, as it was quite popular amongst East Berliners. Now it is completely gone, the steal of the skeleton was sold to China. And now with the dome and the brick façade this is the reconstruction of this former palace. Inside it will be modern and used for different events with scientists and the non-European collection. We had a fantastic South American collection.
Behind that you see the official seat of the GDR government. There is an older part integrated into it. This is one of the entrance gates to the old palace. This balcony was preserved because from there it was proclaimed a socialist republic in 1918 and this piece of the royal palace was worth keeping in the eyes of the GDR government. To the right we see the twin towers – the whole area is called Nikolai quarter. This was done in 1987 during the 750 th anniversary of the city. Some journalists made fun of it calling it a socialistic Disneyland as there are some old houses, that have been brought from other places and some houses that look like 1800's because they have been done in concrete.
This church was medieval and there were old houses around it. And it still looks to me like East Berlin in the 80s. The TV tower and the high rise apartment buildings.