Category Archives: Sights & Attractions

Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart (Museum of Contemporary Art)

Hamburger Bahnhof - Museum für Gegenwart (Museum for Contemporary Art) in Berlin

The Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart (Museum of Contemporary Art) in Berlin was the first venue I visited with my first Museum Pass in 2010 so it seemed appropriate that it should be the first stop on my Berlin Museum Marathon.

At the beginning of February I used the Museum Pass my work colleagues bought for me when I left my job in London in 2011 and was determined to see as many of Berlin’s wonderful museums and galleries as I possibly could in three days.

As well as that first visit in 2010, I also went to Hamburger Bahnhof during my second Berlin holiday in 2011 and I enjoyed both visits so much that I was determined to go back.

The Hamburger Bahnhof was originally built in the mid 19th century as the terminus of the Berlin to Hamburg railway but was too small for its purpose by 1906 when it first became a museum of traffic and technology.

Since 1996 the The Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart has housed the Contemporary Art collection of the Nationalgalerie.

As it is necessary to leave all bags and rucksacks in the cloakroom in the East Wing of the museum, it was here that I started my tour of the collections.

East Wing

The East Wing of the Hamburger Bahnhof houses the Marx Collection, which formed the backbone of the museum when it opened in 1996.  On display currently are the large-scale photographs of Thomas Struth and Andreas Gursky.  I have been a fan of Gursky’s incredibly detailed photographs since a friend introduced me to his work when I first took up photography.

Andreas Gursky – Singapore Stock Exchange and Library (Bibliothek) - at Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart

Andreas Gursky – Singapore Stock Exchange (1997) and Library (Bibliothek) (1999)

Also in the East Wing of the building, the Kleihueshalle (named after Josef Paul Kleihues – the architect responsible for the transformation of the building into an art museum) is home to more of the Marx Collection including works by Anselm Kiefer and Andy Warhol.

Anselm Kiefer - Mohn und Gedächtnis - at Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart

Detail from Anselm Kiefer – Mohn und Gedächtnis (1989)

Andy Warhol - Mao - at Hamburger Bahnhof - Museum für Gegenwart

Andy Warhol – Mao (1973)

In 2010 I remember seeing Andy Warhol’s Double Elvis here but that was on display in the Neue Nationalgalerie this year.

West Wing

The West Wing includes an impressive selection of work by Joseph Beuys and my favourite artwork from this visit The Artwork Nobody Knows by Ryan Gander, which reminded me of the Street Art of Slinkachu due to its small scale.

Joseph Beuys Das Ende des 20. Jahrhunderts - at Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart

Joseph Beuys – Das Ende des 20. Jahrhunderts (1982-83)

Ryan Gander - The Artwork Nobody Knows - at Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart

Ryan Gander – The Artwork Nobody Knows (2011)

It was also in the West Wing, upstairs that time, that I saw my favourite artwork in 2010.  Schattenspiel (Shadow Play) by Hans-Peter Feldman was a captivating projection of shadows created by a moving array of toys.

Hans-Peter Feldman - Schattenspiel - at Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart

Hans-Peter Feldman – Schattenspiel

Historic Hall

It was great to see a large group of children engaging with Martin Honert’s Kinderkreuzung (Children’s Crusade) in the Historic Hall, a large vaulted space immediately forward of the entrance.

Martin Honert - Kinderkreuzung - at Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart

Martin Honert – Kinderkreuzung

On my second visit to the Hamburger Bahnhof Museum für Gegenwart in 2011, it was here that I saw an exhibition of the works of Richard Long including his Berlin Circle and River Avon Mud Circle


During my latest visit the Rieckhallen, a former warehouse that has been connected to the museum since 2004, was closed but in 2010, it was here that I saw Clown Torture (2010), a video installation by Bruce Nauman.

Bruce Nauman – Clown Torture - at Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart

Bruce Nauman – Clown Torture (2010)

I have now been to the Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart (Museum of Contemporary Art) in Berlin three times. Each time I have seen new artworks, beautifully presented and I’m already looking forward to my next visit.

Snapshot: Brandenburger Tor – The Brandenburg Gate At Night

Brandenburger Tor - Brandenburg Gate at Night

The Brandenburg Gate (Brandenburger Tor) is arguably one of the world’s most recognisable structures and has become a symbol for the city of Berlin.

I remember visiting the Brandenburg Gate on my first morning in Berlin and looking up at the stonework marvelling at the fact that it was completed in 1791.

Throughout history, the Brandenburg Gate has been the backdrop to political upheaval, flashpoints and celebrations.

In 1806 Napoleon removed the Quadriga, the statue of the goddess Victoria driving a chariot drawn by four horses that sits atop the gate, and took it back with him to Paris.

In 1987 Ronald Reagan delivered the line “Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall” from a podium set up near the gate.  The spot is now marked by a memorial.

And who could forget the images beamed around the world in 1989 of the celebrations atop the wall here when travel restrictions between East and West were lifted.

Berlin Museum Marathon – Making The Most of a 3-Day Museum Pass

Berlin Museum Pass and Tickets

When I left my job in London to move to Berlin my colleagues made a collection and bought me The Berlin Pass, which includes a 3-Day Berlin Museum Pass.

Bought separately, the Museum Pass costs €19 and with it you get free entry to 55 of Berlin’s best museums and galleries.

Last week, I finally felt that I had the time and the energy needed to make the most out of it and, having drawn up an itinerary the night before, I set out on Tuesday to visit as many of the qualifying museums and galleries as possible.

Day 1

Hamburger Bahnhof - Museum für Gegenwart (Museum of Contemporary Art) in Berlin

Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart (Museum of Contemporary Art)*

Berliner Medizinhistorisches Museum der Charité
 (Berlin Museum of Medical History at the Charité)

Gemäldegalerie (Old Masters Paintings)

Musikinstrumenten-Museum (Musical Instrument Museum)

Neue Nationalgalerie (New National Gallery)*

Had they been open I would also have visited the Kupferstischkabinett (Museum of Prints and Drawings) and revisited the Kunstgewerbemuseum (Museum of Decorative Arts) whilst I was at the Kulturforum.

Day 2

Jewish Museum Berlin - Memory Void

Jüdisches Museum Berlin (Jewish Museum Berlin)*

Deutsches Technikmuseum (German Museum of Technology)

Altes Museum (Museum of the Ancient World)

I had much more planned for Day 2 but hadn’t grasped just how big the Deutsches Technikmuseum is.

Day 3

Allied Museum Berlin - Spy Tunnel

Alliierten Museum (Allied Museum)

Brücke Museum

Sammlung Scharf-Gerstenberg (Scharf-Gerstenberg Collection)

Alte Nationalgalerie (Old National Gallery)

I would also have revisited the Neues Museum (New Museum) whilst I was on Museumsinsel but there was a €4 entry fee, as there was a temporary exhibition.

A 3-Day Museum Pass costs €19 and in 3 days the combined total of the standard entrance prices to all the museums and galleries I visited was €87.  That said, I wouldn’t recommend that everyone tries to see 12 different venues with their pass.

When I decided to use my pass in this way I knew that I wouldn’t be able to spend as much time as I would like in the museums that appealed to me but I wanted to sample as many as possible and then return to my favourites at a late date.

Also, I was revisiting some (marked with *) for the sake of taking more photographs and checking for any changes since I had last been.

Neue Nationalgalerie Berlin

It’s also worth pointing out that at the end of each day my feet felt the way they used to during my holidays in Berlin when I would sit on the edge of the bath with an icy cold beer in my hand and my feet in cool water until the throbbing stopped.

In the coming weeks I will post about my favourite venues that I visited during my Berlin Museum Pass Marathon.

The 3-Day Berlin Museum Pass is available from the participating museums and galleries and Berlin’s Visitor Information Centres or can be ordered online from visitBerlin.  There is also a list of the 55 museums and galleries the Museum Pass gives you access to on the visitBerlin website.

Snapshot: Haus der Kulturen der Welt Berlin at Night

Haus der Kulturen der Welt Berlin at Night

This photo of the Haus der Kulturen der Welt (House of World Cultures) was taken last week when I was out in Berlin on a video safari.

Inspired by the great videos I posted in my Video Week, Luci’s In a Berlin Minute channel and Berlin am Abend by Gilly, I decided to go out and have a go at shooting my own Berlin video.  It was supposed to be fun.  Now I realise that I have a whole new camera technique to learn and that’s before I even get started on editing.  It may take a while to produce something worth sharing.

Video Week – Berlin on Vimeo: Day 4 – An Approximation To Berlin by Transistoria

An Approximation To Berlin (screenshot from the video Travel Guide by Transistoria)

Photo: Still from An Approximation To Berlin by Transistoria

Day 4’s offering for Video Week is An Approximation To Berlin by Transistoria, a visual Travel Guide to Germany’s capital.

The graphics in the video helpfully give links to the sights highlighted.

A minor mistake at 3:04 when Friedrichstrasse is captioned as Hauptbahnhof can be forgiven for such a beautifully shot video of Berlin.

An Approximation To Berlin

Famous Berliners: David Bowie

David Bowie - Where Are We Now? (screenshot from the Official Video)

Photo: Still from ‘David Bowie – Where Are We Now?’

Almost three weeks ago now, on his 66th birthday, David Bowie surprised everyone by releasing a new song – Where Are We Now? – a melancholy tune that reflects on his time living in Berlin in the 1970s.

Following the new single’s release my social media feeds were abuzz with (mainly positive) reactions and Berlin talked of its adoptive son, Bowie.

The feeling that history was made (good and bad) in its streets and the sense of following in the footsteps of others is one of the things that intrigues me about the city and hearing this song prompted me to go out and explore Bowie’s Berlin, something I’d been meaning to do since I arrived more than a year ago.

Many of the buildings where Bowie spent his time are, as you can imagine, non-descript, and some venues have changed name, appearance or no longer exist, but it was interesting to walk where he would have walked all the same.

Bowie’s Flat on Hauptstrasse

Bowie's Flat (Hauptstrasse 155) in Berlin

When David Bowie moved to Berlin in 1976 he found a flat in an Altbau at Hauptstrasse 155 in Schöneberg, which he shared with Iggy Pop.

Neues Ufer (formerly Anderes Ufer)

Neues Ufer (Anderes Ufer) - a Bowie haunt in Berlin

Next door to his former flat, at Hauptstrasse 157, is a café, Neues Ufer, which was known as Anderes Ufer in the days when Bowie and Iggy Pop would spend time there.

Chez Romy Haag

Chez Romy Haag, a nightclub run by the Dutch transsexual born Edouard Frans Verbaarsschott, was at the crossroads of Welserstrasse and Fuggerstrasse.  I haven’t been able to find a precise address so I could only guess which corner having visited.

Hansa Studios

Hansa Studios in Berlin - where David Bowie recorded Low and Heroes

Not far from Potsdamer Platz (written as Potzdamer Platz in the Where Are We Now? video) at Köthener Strasse 38 is Hansa Studios.

It was here in 1977 that Bowie, with Brian Eno, recorded Low and Heroes, two of the albums in what has become known as his Berlin Trilogy (though the third, Lodger was recorded in Switzerland).

It wasn’t until I read the many articles about his new single that I knew that one of his most celebrated songs, Heroes, is about a couple who kiss in the shadow of the Berlin Wall.


Bowie was apparently a fan of SO36, the legendary punk club on Kreuzberg’s Oranienstrasse.

Café Exil

Another former Bowie haunt that I visited but didn’t photograph was the Café Exil (now the restaurant Horváth) which had scaffolding erected for renovations.

Paris Bar

Paris Bar - a Bowie haunt in Berlin

Bowie liked to go to Paris Bar, the restaurant at Kantstrasse 152, when he was feeling extravagant and was in the mood to celebrate.


Ellington Hotel - where the Dschungel - a Bowie haunt in Berlin - was

It was presumably after a visit to Dschungel, another of his favourite hangouts and mentioned in his new song, that Bowie became ‘a man lost in time near KaDeWe’.

Dschungel was around the corner from Berlin’s luxury department store on Nürnberger Strasse (referred to as Nurnberger Strasse in the song) in the basement of what is now the Ellington Hotel, a building with a rich musical history.

The Brücke Museum

Bowie would visit this small museum on the edge of the Grunewald and admire the works of the expressionist painters housed here that provided the inspiration for the cover of Heroes.

I plan to visit the Brücke Museum later this week.

David Bowie Exhibition in Berlin

When the curators at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum were given unprecedented access to the David Bowie Archive in 2013 they put together what became the V&A’s fastest selling exhibition.  Now, the David Bowie exhibition is showing at the Martin Gropius Bau in Berlin and the event has been tweaked a little to bring items related to Bowie’s time in Berlin into sharper focus.

The exhibition opened on 20 May and will run until 10 August 2014.  You can find more details about the exhibition, buy tickets and get directions to Berlin’s Martin Gropius Bau on the David Bowie exhibition website.

David Bowie Exhibition at Martin Gropius Bau Berlin

David Bowie – Where Are We Now?

If by any chance you haven’t heard the song or reading about Bowie’s time in Berlin means you want to listen again, here it is:

Snapshot: Berlin Fernsehturm From Below

Berlin Fernsehturm From Below

I can’t resist taking photos of the Fernsehturm in Berlin, especially on sunny days.

This photo was taken as I walked under the TV tower from Alexanderplatz station in November after taking the shot featured in my Snapshot: Fernsehturm and Alexanderplatz Station post.

Snapshot: Berliner Philharmonie (Berlin Philharmonic Hall) at Night

Berliner Philharmonie (Berlin Philharmonic Hall) at Night

The Berliner Philharmonie (Berlin Philharmonic Hall) is an asymmetrical and angular building in the Kulturforum near Potsdamer Platz in Berlin.

Designed by Hans Scharoun, the building was completed in 1963 and is particularly striking when lit up at night.

I took this picture as I wandered past the building yesterday evening.

I didn’t realise it at the time but the German President Joachim Gauck, Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President François Hollande were all in attendance at a concert to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Élysée Treaty.

Also known as the Treaty of Friendship, the accord was signed by Charles de Gaulle and Konrad Adenauer on 22 January 1963 and marked a new era in relations between Germany and France.

Prinzessinnengarten – An Urban Garden in Berlin

Prinzessinnengarten - Urban Garden in Berlin (screenshot from Prizessinnengarten - Berlin, Germany by Joseph Redwood-Martinez on Vimeo)

The Prinzessinnengarten (Princess Garden) is an urban garden on the side of a busy roundabout a few steps from the U-Bahn station at Moritzplatz in Berlin Kreuzberg.

In 2009, Nomadisch Grün (Nomadic Green), the brainchild of Robert Shaw and Marco Clausen, leased a patch of wasteland in order to realise their vision of a green space in the heart of the community.  The idea was born out of a trip Robert made to Cuba, where he saw similar spaces where people would gather to work, learn and relax.

In 2012 the Prinzessinnengarten faced the threat of closure.  The Berlin Property Fund was tasked by the Berlin Senate to find a buyer for the city-owned plot of land where the garden is based.

Nomadisch Grün sought to engage with the Berlin Senate to discuss the future of the project and collected 30,000 signatures on a petition to keep the Prinzessinnengarten open.

Thankfully, in this instance the Senate saw sense.  On 14 December 2012, The Berlin Property Fund agreed to return the land to the borough and the threat of closure was averted.

The Prinzessinnengarten still needs your help though.  The initiative does not receive any government backing and is funded by donations and sales of its produce.  The Let It Grow! campaign was launched to secure the funding needed to continue the good work and to provide more workshops and assist with community projects.

A crowdfunding page has been set up on startnext and so far €6,790 of the €22,000 target has been pledged.  The nature of startnext means that if the full target amount is not pledged by the closing date of 18 February 2013 all amounts will be returned to the donors.

Startnext Crowdfunding page – English

Startnext Crowdfunding page – Deutsch

In the following interview from the upcoming documentary Promises of Urban Agriculture, filmed at a time when the Prizessinnengarten was under threat, Marco Clausen, a co-founder of the garden talks about how the project got started and his visions for its future.

Prizessinengarten – Berlin, Germany

The Prinzessinengarten is currently on its Winter break but during the gardening season (from April 2013) a café and bar on the site sells food and drink made from the garden’s produce from 12:00 to 22:00.  On a summer’s evening it is a great place to sit with friends in a relaxed but buzzing atmosphere.

Famous Berliners: The Brothers Grimm

The graves of the Brothers Grimm (Gebrüder Grimm) in the Alter St-Matthäus-Kirchof in Schöneberg in Berlin

I’m currently reading The Brothers Grimm’s Fairy Tales (Grimms Märchen) so Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm seemed like a logical choice to launch a new series of posts on andBerlin – Famous Berliners.

In this series I hope to present some of the characters whose histories have become entwined with the history of the city itself – men and women who have shaped the political, literary or musical development of Berlin or in some way altered the lives of its citizens.

Many of these people, like myself, will not be born and bred Berliners, some may have spent only a little time here but all will have left their mark.

Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm only spent the years from 1840 until their deaths in 1859 and 1863 in Berlin, working at the University but their bodies are buried at the Alter St-Matthäus-Kirchof in Schöneberg.

The graves of the Brothers Grimm (Gebrüder Grimm) in the Alter St-Matthäus-Kirchof in Schöneberg Berlin

Grimm’s Fairy Tales have been thrilling and frightening children in equal measure since they were first published as a collection of Children’s and Household Tales in 1812.

Their book was the first time that many of these folklores, that up to that point had been passed down orally from generation to generation, had appeared in print and was therefore responsible for introducing the tales to the wider world.  Amongst the most popular stories they brought us are Cinderella (Ashputtel); Snow White (Snow Drop); Sleeping Beauty (Rose-bud);  Rumpelstiltskin; and Rapunzel.

Whilst they are best known for their fairy tales the Brothers Grimm were academics and their collection of folk stories grew out of their work in Philology, the study of languages, particularly in relation to historical texts.

After the publication of their most well known work the Grimms continued their studies of the German language and Jacob Grimm is credited with Grimm’s Law a set of statements that describe the development of Proto-Germanic from Proto-Indo-European languages.

The Brothers also began work on a German dictionary, which remained unfinished at their deaths.

Jacob-und-Wilhelm-Grimm-Zentrum (Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm Centre) opened in Berlin in 2009 and houses the Central Library of the Humboldt University.  The building is located on Geschwister-Scholl-Strasse and visible from the S-Bahn as it travels between Friedrichstrasse and Hackescher Markt.

Jacob-und-Wilhelm-Grimm-Zentrum - the building named after the Brothers Grimm, authors of Grimm's Fairy Tales, houses the central library of the Humboldt University