This shot of the Berlin skyline at night was taken form the viewing platform of the Französischer Dom (French Cathedral) on Gendarmenmarkt as I took photos of the Weihnachtsmarkt Zauber for my Christmas Markets in Berlin – 5 Stars post.
The 8th annual Festival of Lights is taking place in Berlin 10 – 21 October 2012. During the festival, a number of Berlin’s most famous landmarks and some lesser known buildings have been transformed with light installations, laser animations and video projections.
I started my tour of the Festival of Lights locations on Saturday in the Gendarmenmarkt, which I chose as there are 3 buildings taking part in close proximity.
Deutscher Dom (German Cathedral)
One of a pair of similar, though not identical, churches on the Gendarmenmarkt, the Deutscher Dom (German Cathedral) is on the southern side of the square.
Konzerthaus Berlin (Berlin Concert House)
Nestled between the two churches on the Gendarmenmarkt is Konzerthaus Berlin (Berlin Concert House).
Französischer Dom (French Cathedral)
The Französischer Dom (French Cathedral) certainly looked very different from when I climbed it in January.
It wasn’t just the fronts of some buildings that were lit up. This statue lit up in orange on the side of the Französischer Dom caught my eye.
The Fernsehturm (TV Tower)
The Fernsehturm has to be one of my favourite buildings in Berlin. Dominating the city skyline, at 368m it is visible from almost everywhere. The views from it are also spectacular and I was fortunate enough to watch the sunset from the Fernsehturm recently.
On Sunday, I was lucky enough to be invited by my friends Bine and Gilly (of Gilly’s Playground) to take a tour of a number of West Berlin locations for Festival of Lights. After an excellent Lasagne, we headed off in the car with Bine driving.
This allowed me to see some installations beyond the centre of Berlin that I wouldn’t otherwise have got to.
Siemens AG had lit up a number of buildings in the Siemensstadt.
Siemens AG Turbinenfabrik
Siemens AG Siemensdamm 50
Siemens AG Nonnendammallee 101
RBB Fernsehsendezentrum (RBB TV Broadcasting Centre)
The roof terrace of the RBB Fernsehsendezentrum (RBB TV Broadcasting Centre) was transformed by its light installation.
The Funkturm was West Berlin’s TV Tower and whilst dwarfed by its counterpart in the East is still an impressive building, especially when it’s lit up against the night sky.
Elefantentor am Zoologischer Garten (The Elephant Gate at Berlin Zoo)
The larger of Berlin’s two zoos, the Zoologischer Garten is said to be the most visited zoo in Europe. It is located within The Tiergarten, which is certainly worth a visit in its own right.
The Siegessäule (Victory Column)
Known by Berliners as Gold Else, the Siegessäule (Victory Column) towers over the Tiergarten and affords spectacular views of Berlin, as you can see from my post here.
Berliner Dom (Berlin Cathedral)
The light projections at the Berliner Dom (Berlin Cathedral) are sponsored by Urlaubsland Österreich (Tourist Country Austria) and had what I originally assumed was a ‘Winter’ theme.
When I first went here on Saturday there was a silent disco taking place on the Lustgarten so the area was incredibly crowded with people so I went back on Monday for some clearer shots.
Brandenburger Tor (The Brandenburg Gate)
Brandenburger Tor (The Brandenburg Gate) is probably Berlin’s most internationally recognised landmark and a symbol for the city.
A video projection spectacularly transforms the gate into a busy apartment building.
But a more simple light projection is also effective.
With light shows at 68 locations across Berlin during Festival of Lights 2012, I still have more to see and recommend that anyone in Berlin between now and 21 October 2012 finds time to take in the lights.
A trip to Fassbender & Rausch would be one of my top tips for anyone visiting Berlin.
Of course, on your first visit to the German capital you should see the Reichstag, the Brandenburg Gate, the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church and the Fernsehturm (TV Tower), but why not also see them crafted from chocolate.
Fassbender & Rausch was formed in 1999 when two families of chocolatiers joined forces. Heinrich Fassbender started making chocolate in 1863 in Mohrenstrasse, not far from the present shop. Later, in 1890, Wilhelm Rausch established his first confectionery.
Entering the shop on the southern edge of the Gendarmenmarkt in Berlin’s Mitte, you’ll feel like Charlie stepping into Willy Wonka’s factory. Your eyes will be on stalks as you walk passed all the sights listed earlier and the chocolate volcano.
To give you some idea of scale, the Reichstag here measures 1.6m x 1.6m x 0.65m and weighs in at a staggering 285 kg. Oh, and it took 492 man-hours to create it.
There is a huge array of truffles on offer and after enjoying some yourself you can earn some serious Brownie points if you take some home as gifts. Fortunately, the staff here are incredibly patient with customers who find it difficult to narrow down the wide selection.
Truffles cost €5.75 per 100g but the less fancy (but still wonderfully tasty) Borken Schokolade costs €3.45 per 100g.
Above the shop there is a Café and Restaurant. I’m told that the hot chocolate here is something special but I’ve never been so can’t vouch for that. The desserts on the menu outside look like they are to die for.
For most, Fassbender and Rausch in Berlin is a fantasy world of chocolate creations. For a chocoholic like me, it’s a little slice of chocolate Heaven on Earth. On leaving, those worried about their waistline can cross the Gendarmenmarkt to the Französischer Dom, where climbing the steps to the viewing gallery will help burn off some of the calories just consumed.
I decided that a clear, bright day was the ideal time to do a spot of climbing and experience some of Berlin’s best views.
I started in the morning with a visit to the Französischer Dom (the French Cathedral) on the Gendarmenmarkt, one of Berlin’s more picturesque squares, and later in the day visited the Siegessäule.
Entry costs EUR 3 and the viewing platform is reached by a spiralling staircase. I counted 236 steps (on the way down as I was concentrating on breathing on the way up) but at the foot of the stairs it indicates there are 254 (I suspect this may be to the top of the tower where the bells are, a little above the entrance to the balustraded viewing gallery).
As well as overlooking the Gendarmenmarkt, the climb is rewarded with views over Mitte, the Berliner Dom (Berlin Cathedral) and the Fernsehturm (TV Tower), which is omnipresent on the Berlin Skyline (but I never tire of seeing it, especially from new vantage points).
The Französischer Dom is at the north of the square and the vewing platform provides a fantastic view past the Konzerthaus (Concert House) to the Deutscher Dom (the German Cathedral) in the south.
Neither church is in actual fact a Cathedral, both colloquial names are derived from their domed towers.
When the weather is a little warmer I would like to go back and climb the Französischer Dom again and see how Berlin looks as it lights up for the evening.