Tag Archives: Siegessäule

Berlin Festival of Lights 2012

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.

The Deutscher Dom (German Cathedral) lit up during the Festival of Lights in Berlin

Konzerthaus Berlin (Berlin Concert House)

Nestled between the two churches on the Gendarmenmarkt is Konzerthaus Berlin (Berlin Concert House).

A video projection on the Konzerthaus Berlin (Berlin Concert House) during the Festival of Lights in Berlin

Französischer Dom (French Cathedral)

The Französischer Dom (French Cathedral) certainly looked very different from when I climbed it in January.

Französischer Dom (French Cathedral) lit up in many colours during the Festival of Lights in Berlin

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.

A statue on the Französischer Dom (French Cathedral) lit orange during the Festival of Lights in Berlin

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.

Fernsehturm (TV Tower) and in the foreground a boat streaks past on the Spree during the Festival of Lights in Berlin

A bus streak past the Rotes Rathaus (Red City Hall) and the Fernsehturm (TV Tower) lit up during the Festival of Lights in Berlin

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

A light projection on the Siemens AG Turbinenfabrik during the Festival of Lights in Berlin

Siemens Technopark

A light instillation in the Siemens AG clock tower at Technopark during the Festival of Lights in Berlin

Siemens AG Siemensdamm 50

A light projection on the Siemens AG building at Siemensdamm 50 during the Festival of Lights in Berlin

Siemens AG Nonnendammallee 101

A light projection on the Siemens AG building at Nonnendammallee 101 during the Festival of Lights in Berlin

RBB Fernsehsendezentrum (RBB TV Broadcasting Centre)

The roof terrace of the RBB Fernsehsendezentrum (RBB TV Broadcasting Centre) was transformed by its light installation.

The roof terrace of the RBB (Rundfunk Berlin Brandenburg) building lit up during the Festival of Lights in Berlin

Funkturm

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.

A bus streaks past the Funkturm (West Berlin TV Tower) and Messe Berlin lit up during the Festival of Lights in Berlin

Funkturm (West Berlin TV Tower) lit up during the Festival of Lights in Berlin

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.

Elefantentor am Zoologischer Garten (The Elephant Gate at Berlin Zoo) lit up during the Festival of Lights in Berlin

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.

The Sigessäule (Victory Column) lit up during the Festival of Lights in Berlin

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.

The Berliner Dom (Berlin Cathedral) with a snowflakes projection by Urlaubsland Österreich (Tourist Country Austria) during the Festival of Lights

The Berliner Dom (Berlin Cathedral) with a wintry projection by Urlaubsland Österreich (Tourist Country Austria) during the Festival of Lights

The Berliner Dom (Berlin Cathedral) with a Christmas Tree projection by Urlaubsland Österreich (Tourist Country Austria) during the Festival of Lights

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.

Brandenburger Tor (The Brandenburg Gate) made to look like apartments during the Festival of Lights in Berlin

But a more simple light projection is also effective.

Brandenburger Tor (The Brandenburg Gate) lit up in many colours during the Festival of Lights in Berlin

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.

The Reichstag – A Berlin Phoenix From the Flames

The Reichstag from the Platz der Republik in Berlin

The view from the roof of the Reichstag must be one of the best free views in Berlin.

I first visited the Reichstag on my first full day in Berlin in 2009.  It was a gorgeous, sunny day and I got up early in the morning and queued on the steps to get in.  Unfortunately, the dome was closed for cleaning and renovation.  Fast forward to 2012 and a new booking system has been introduced.  It is no longer possible to just turn up – a visit must be booked online at least two days in advance.

So when the weather app on my phone suggested that we were in for a few days of sunny weather I booked my visit.  But my weather app let me down and when the day of my visit arrived it was grey and raining, however, as I was booked in I made the trip anyway.

The Reichstag, built to house the German parliament, was formally opened on 5 December 1894 but shortly after the Nazis came to power in 1933 it was ravaged by fire.

During the years of division, the parliamentary seat of the Bundesrepublik Deutschland (West Germany) was in Bonn but following reunification the Bundestag (German parliament) voted to return the seat of power to BerlinSir Norman Foster was selected to draw up the plans for the reconstruction of the building and the Reichstag resumed its function as the parliamentary home in 1999, complete with a spectacular glass domed roof.

The glass dome on the roof of the Reichstag from Platz des 18. Mai in Berlin

The cupola is 40 metres in diameter and a spiralling walkway allows visitors to climb to a viewing platform below the opening in its roof.

The spiralling walkway of the dome of the Reichstag in Berlin

Tourists passing the German flag as they climb the dome of the Reichstag in Berlin

The opening allows stale air to escape from the plenary chamber below and the light sculpture, a cone of 360 mirrors, reflects light back down reducing the energy needed to light the chamber.

The light sculpture in the dome of the Reichstag in Berlin

A giant sunshade rotates with the movement of the sun to reduce the glare of the reflected light.

The light sculpture and sunshade in the dome of the Reichstag in Berlin

The energy needs of the building are also served by 300 square metres of solar panels on the roof.

Even on a rainy day the elevated position affords some wonderful views over Berlin.

The Federal Chancellery from the dome of the Reichstag in Berlin

On a clear day you can see far into the distance and pick out many of Berlin’s landmark buildings with the help of the leaflet ‘Outlooks Berlin panorama: View from the dome’ available in the reception area.

The Carillion and Tiergarten in the foreground and Funkturm (West Berlin’s TV Tower) in the background.

The Carillion and Tiergarten in the foreground and Funkturm (West Berlin’s TV Tower) in the background

The Siegessäule rising from the Tiergarten and in the far distance the former NSA listening station at Teufelsberg.

The Siegessäule rising from the Tiergarten and in the far distance the former NSA listening station at Teufelsberg in Berlin

An audio guide is also available free of charge and provides a commentary to accompany the climb up to the top of the dome and the return to the roof.

The German flag flies from three of the four corners of the roof.  The flag of the European Union flies from the other corner.

The German flag flying on the roof of the Reichstag in Berlin

The stonework around the roof space is decorated with some very impressive statues and figureheads.

A carved figurehead in the stonework around the roof of the Reichstag in Berlin

Visits to the Reichstag in Berlin can be booked on the Bundestag website and don’t forget to take photo id with you on your visit.

Siegessäule (Gold Else) – Berlin’s Victory Column

Gold Else, a statue of the goddess of victory, atop the Siegessäule (Victory Column) in Berlin

After a successful trip to the Französischer Dom I decided it was time to tackle the Siegessäule (Victory Column) and get some more great views over Berlin.

Known by the locals as Gold Else (Berliners have a fondness for giving their public buildings nicknames), the column is topped by a gilded bronze statue of the Roman goddess of victory, Victoria.  The column was renovated in 2011 at a cost of EUR 4 Million.

The construction of the Siegessäule began in 1865 to commemorate a Prussian victory over Denmark in 1864.  The statue of Victoria was not part of the original plans but was added later, as by the time the work was completed in 1873 there were further victories over Austria and France in 1866 and 1871 to be celebrated.

The Siegessäule was moved to its current position on the Grosser Stern, a roundabout (albeit a very grand one) in the Tiergarten, in accordance with Albert Speer’s plans for Hitler’s new Germania.  This move from the Platz der Republik (then known as Königsplatz), in front of the Reichstag, saved the column from destruction during the bombing raids of World War II.

There are light installations in the four tunnels leading from the surrounding roads to the Grosser Stern (Great Star).  The lights are activated by movement in front of cameras mounted in the opposite wall.  An unexpected find, I enjoyed these almost as much as the Siegessäule itself.

Light Installations under the Grosser Stern in the tunnels leading to the Siegessäule (Victory Column) in Berlin

Entrance to the viewing platform, reached by climbing the 285 steps of a tight and winding staircase is EUR 3.

Having reached the viewing platform a little breathless from the climb I was buffeted by the wind and assaulted by the cold on emerging 60 metres up.  I had to pop back inside the staircase when I needed to change the lenses on my camera, as my hands were so cold when I took off my gloves.

But for views like these over the Tiergarten and the city beyond, EUR 3 and cold hands is a small price to pay.

The view towards Berlin Mitte from the Siegessäule (Victory Column) in Berlin

The view along Strasse des 17 Juni to the Brandenburg Gate (Brandenburger Tor) and Mitte from the Siegessäule (Victory Column) in Berlin

The view over The Spree and Tiergarten from the Siegessäule (Victory Column) in Berlin

I’d like to come back to climb the Siegessäule again in the summer when I’ll be able to spend a bit more time appreciating the spectacular views over Berlin.