THE U7 IN its current form was largely a product of Cold War-era West Berlin, and is arguably the most “West Berlin” of all U-Bahn lines. Despite being Berlin’s longest U-Bahn line (as well as one of the longest underground urban rail lines in all of Europe at 31.8 kilometers), every single one of its stations, from Rudow in the southeast to Rathaus Spandau in the northwest, falls within the borders of the former West Berlin.Read more
EACH SPRING, BERLIN emerges from the frozen temperatures of Central-European winter with an incredible show of color: thousands of cherry trees blooming all across the city.Read more
PFAUENINSEL ("PEACOCK ISLAND"), A 100-HECTARE island of forests and meadows on the Havel river, is a singular Berlin curiosity. Its origin as a game preserve dates back to Friedrich Wilhelm I, though it was his great-nephew Friedrich Wilhelm II that first populated the island with the eponymous birds. The island's current peacock population, descendants of the originals, roam the island freely alongside human visitors (and the occasional pack of grazing sheep), and their distinctive hair-raising calls, which can be heard kilometers away, add to the surreal and otherworldly atmosphere.Read more
RÜGEN, GERMANY'S LARGEST island, lies where the eastern Ostsee opens up into the Baltic. Closer to both Sweden and Denmark than to Hamburg, the island has remained remarkably untouched over centuries of changing rule...Read more
Now I know why they call Main Street a drag
– Jeremy Gluck, Sorrow Drive
CIVILISATIONS ARE JUDGED by what they leave behind. Sometime around the beginning of the automobile age – that period in the post-war years when car ownership became not merely affordable but essential – it was determined that there existed a proportional relationship between the speed of travel and the size a sign needed to be in order to convey its information to the traveller. Simply put, as roads grew wider and faster, the signs grew larger.Read more
Berlin Typography is a project dedicated to celebrating the incredible range of sign-based type that proliferates throughout the German capital. It reveals an astounding range of typefaces, ranging from traditional blackletter to midcentury sans-serifs to a bewildering spread of outliers (with a particular soft spot for cursive neon, a signature Berlin aesthetic if there ever was one).
The project's tagline, "Words and the City", evokes the corporeal nature of urban signage, with numerous pictures revealing the particular detail given to punctuation, umlauts, and the uniquely German Eszett (ß).Read more
The forests of eastern Saxony take on a dreamlike, glowing cast in late summer. The relentlessly verdant region is dotted with small, idyllic lakes that range in color from deep blue to turquoise to a deep, irridescent green, and the woods are still and silent, as if saving their energy for fall.
At the state's far eastern edge, just a few kilometers from the Polish border, stands a 150-year-old curiosity: a perfectly semicircular bridge called the Rakotzbrücke. The bridge, along with other equally curious stone artifacts, was built in the 1860s by the local count, and spans a small, eerie lake that is little more than a pond. That it still stands today is a testament as much to its inconvenience as its quality: though crossable on foot, it's tricky in the best of weather, and downright treacherous in winter (to say nothing of the nearby signs that prohibit crossing it at all).
Though technically located in the village of Kromlau, if you're coming from Berlin by train, the closest station is Weißwasser to the south. Sleepy on the busiest of days, and a veritable ghost town on Sundays, the area around the station is dotted with fenced-off village homes and colony-style gardens, interspersed (as is so much of the former East) with crumbling, ruined buildings, complete with trees and other vegetation growing through collapsed floors and open roofs.Read more
A lot can be said about Europe’s most diverse capital city, but after nearly two years of residency, here is what we’ve found to be most true: Berlin is whatever you want it to be, even if what you want it to be changes on a daily basis.
1. A few quotes
“Berlin combines the culture of New York, the traffic system of Tokyo, the nature of Seattle, and the historical treasures of, well, Berlin.” – Hiroshi Motomura
“Berlin is a surprise in a great many ways… It deals with great matters and minute particulars with equal faithfulness, and with a plodding and painstaking diligence and persistency which compel admiration – and sometimes regret.” – Mark Twain, 1892
And of course, the endlessly-quoted quip from former mayor Klaus Wowereit: “Berlin ist arm, aber sexy.” (“Berlin is poor, but sexy.”)
2. A few generalities
As many Germans will tell you, Berlin is not Germany. Well, to be more exact, Berlin is Germany, but it is also its very own universe within Germany. Travel just a little ways outside the capital, and you’ll find that people are more formal, English is spoken much less, and food is generally more beige. None of these are bad things (we personally love beige food), but it’s worth noting that Berlin is truly a place unto itself.Read more