Monday, May 31, 2010

Heart of Berlin

Another big day on Sunday! We took the S Bahn, U Bahn, and bus and finally arrived at the German Historical Museum. It's a huge building loaded with information and artifacts of significant events in the German region since 100 BC! That means there was a lot to cover. We only saw about half the building, up to the 1900's. That might sound like there isn't much left, but of course Germany has had a lot happen in the past century, so we can't wait to return for the remainder.
Panel showing the heraldic shield of Charles V,
Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation

Suits of armor worn by the knights
Mask worn by doctors during the Bubonic Plague

We left the museum by mid-afternoon and walked up the famous Under den Linden street to the Reichstag, the seat of the German government. Jeff had prearranged for a guided tour in English, so we were able to bypass the lengthy lines and go right in. After a security check, we joined our group and enjoyed a two hour journey through the Reichstag and the glass dome on top.
The Reichstag is the equivalent of the US Capitol Building. It was completed in 1894, but due to the famous fire of 1933 and damage during WWII, it was basically unused until after reunification. Restoration was completed in 1999. Photobucket
Russian graffiti on the interior walls from the fall of Berlin to the Soviets
during WWII. The architect responsible for reconstruction of the Reichstag
wanted to preserve all the signs of history, so the graffiti remains, as well as
bullet holes on the exterior.

The Plenary Chamber where the Bundestag meets
Another view of the Plenary from the visitors gallery. The German
constitution dictates that the public always be allowed access and viewing.

The French art project, one of several pieces contributed by members of the
Allied Nations. The Jewish artist replicated small post boxes and added a name plate for each elected member of the Bundestag from 1894 until 1999 (including Adolf Hitler). The black square in the middle is representative of the Nazi reign when all other parties were forced to disband and democracy was suspended.

In the Plenary under the dome, which functions as a cooling system and air exchanger
View of Berlin from the top of the Reichstag

Following the Reichstag, we had dinner at a nice outdoor cafe and then consulted our S Bahn map again. We had tickets to Carmina Burana, so we found our way to the Konzerthaus, a lovely old building at Gendarmenmarkt. Jeff and I have sung Carmina before in the Arkansas Master Chorale, but we have never heard it as passive audience members. It was very enjoyable, certainly the more-so because of our familiarity with it. We both loved the soprano soloist, and the tenor was very engaging (especially in the drinking song, which he essentially acted out ;-). I also enjoyed the countertenor, but that's not really Jeff's cup of tea!
Inside the Konzerthaus, seated on the main floor

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