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Facts about Berlin

Berlin, September 2020 Berlin sets trends: Whether it’s sightseeing or hip neighbourhoods, galleries or gastronomy, music or fashion, there is always something new to discover in the German capital. Yet what is it exactly that makes Berlin so attractive? It is the capital’s diversity, contrasts and its virtually inexhaustible possibilities that excite visitors from all around the world.

Did you know that...

Culture and Events

●… Berlin is one of the few cities that has three UNESCO World Heritage sites? In addition to the famous Museum Island and the Prussian palaces and gardens, the Berlin Modernist housing estates are also among them. Furthermore, the German capital has also been bestowed the title of UNESCO City of Design and is thus included in the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

●... Berlin is the only city in the world that has three opera houses holding performances? The Deutsche Oper, the Staatsoper Unter den Linden and the Komische Oper offer more than 4,400 seats to their audiences. Berlin also has more than 150 theatres and live show stages catering to all genres.

●... Berlin is the only European city that has more museums than rainy days? On average there are 99 rainy days a year, and there are around 175 museums.

●... the Gemäldegalerie (portrait gallery) at the Kulturforum, which opened in 1998, unites the collections of the Bode Museum (in the former East) and the Gemäldegalerie in Dahlem (in the former West) that were separated when the city was divided?

●… Berlin with its roughly 300 galleries for classical modernism and contemporary art has the largest gallery scene in Europe?

●. … the world's largest universal museum is being built on the Museum Island in the centre of Berlin? The Old National Gallery, the Bode Museum, the Old Museum and the New Museum with the world-famous bust of Nefertiti have already been renovated. The new James Simon Galerie connects four of the five buildings on the Museum Island. The north wing and the central section of the Pergamonmuseum are currently being modernised. Work is scheduled to be completed in 2023, after which the south wing will be renovated and the museum will be given a new fourth wing connecting the north and south wings.

●... based on the model of the ParisLouvre, the Hermitage in Saint Petersburg and the British Museum in London, four of the buildings on Museum Island will be connected via an underground promenade?

●... the Pergamon Museum is for the most part staying open during its renovation? The exception to this is the Pergamon Altar itself. Since November 2018 however, 80 masterworks from Pergamon as well as a 360˚ panorama of the antique city of Yadegar Asisi have been on display for visitors to marvel at in the Pergamon Museum’s Das Panorama temporary exhibition building opposite the Bode Museum.

●... the central entrance building of Berlin’s Museum Island was named after the patron of the arts James Simon? The Neues Museum has him to thank for the famous bust of Nefertiti. The historical entrances of the five individual museums will, by the way, also be retained.

●... the Jewish Museum has attracted around 12.1 millionvisitors annually to its exhibitions since opening on 13 September 2001? The building was designed by Daniel Libeskind and its shape is reminiscent of a destroyed Star of David. It is one of the most important examples of contemporary architecture.

●... in addition to the world famous collections, Berlin also has more unusual museums such as the Lippenstift Museum (lipstick museum), the Schwules Museum (gay museum), the Hanf Museum (hemp museum) and Urban Nation, the museum for urban contemporary art?

●... the largest Chinese garden in Europe is situated in Berlin? It is part of Marzahn’s leisure park and has an ensemble of ten ‘gardens of the world’. Visitors can take part in a tea ceremony in the Japanese garden. There are also Balinese, Korean and Middle Eastern gardens as well as an Italian Renaissance garden, shrub garden, Christian garden, English landscape garden and a maze. The 11th large theme garden is currently being created with a Jewish Garden. The opening is planned for 2021.

●... Berlin’s landmarks – such as the TV tower, the Brandenburg Gate, the Berlin Cathedral, the Victory Column and many other buildings – appear in a completely different light once a year? At the annual Berlin Illuminated and Festival of Lights events held in October, they are transformed into huge projection surfaces for original light installations. And how could it be otherwise: both events are of course among the largest light festivals in the world.

●... Berlin’s cemeteries are often landscaped like parks and many of them are worth taking a walk around? The Jewish Cemetery in Berlin-Weißensee has over 115,000 graves and is the largest surviving Jewish cemetery in Europe. The Dorotheenstadt Cemetery on Chausseestraße is especially worth a visit as Brecht, Weigel, Fichte, Hegel and Schinkel are buried there. The graves of Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, Adelbert von Chamisso and Carl von Siemens are located in the idyllic cemeteries by Hallesches Tor. The Brothers Grimm and Rio Reiser are buried at the Alter St.-Matthäus-Kirchhof cemetery in Schöneberg.

●... the Berlinale, one of the most popular film festivals in Europe, will already be 71 years old in 2021? As one of the top media events for the film industry, it attracts over 21,000 industry visitors and journalists from almost 130 countries each year. Berlin distinguishes itself from other film festivals by the large participation of the general public. Some 100,000 film lovers from Germany and abroad purchased 330,000 cinema tickets in 2020 (this does not include industry visitors).

Life in Berlin

●... the city had its highest number of residents in 1942? At that time 4,478,102 people lived in Berlin. Today there are more than 3.7 million.

●... for the 2019/20 winter semester a total of around 193,000 students are enrolled at the four universities, four universities of applied sciences and 30 private higher education institutions in Berlin?

●... Berlin is the most multicultural city in Germany? Of the approximately 3.7 million residents, 812,705 possess a foreign passport. People from 190 countries live in the city, of them around 71,000 are Polish and 106,000 are Turkish citizens.

●... there are more than 100 vegan or vegan-friendly restaurants in Berlin? Exclusively animal-free products and foods are also available in cafés, ice cream parlours supermarkets, butchers and even a vegan sex shop.

●... the Berlin dialect was particularly influenced by the Huguenots from the late 17th century? Some words have French origins: Budike (pub or shop), Boulette (meatball), Roulade (rolled cuts of meat) and Destille (pub). But other linguistic influences have left audible traces, such as from Hebrew (via Yiddish), in expressions such as Malochen (hard work), Schlamassel (misfortune) and Moos (money).

●... Berliners are devoted dog lovers? More than 107,700 dogs were registered in the city at the end of 2018. .


●... the East Side Gallery is the longest open-air art gallery in the world, and at a length of 1,316 metres is also the longest preserved part of the Berlin Wall? In 1990, 118 artists from 21 countries painted the section of wall with 106 artworks. Many of the artists returned to Berlin in 2009 to refresh their works of art. In April 2014, artists, Berliners and visitors to the city removed graffiti from the wall paintings (which are listed historic works) during a communal clean up campaign.

●... the Berlin TV tower, at a height of 368 metres, is the highest building in Germany?

●... Berlin, with its 2,100 bridges, 600 of which cross over water, easily beats even Venice in this regard? The oldest bridge is the Jungfernbrücke, built in 1798 and to a large extent preserved in its original form.

Flora and Fauna

●... Berlin is not only the largest but also the greenest city in Germany? Around 30 percent of the entire 892 square kilometres is green space and woodlands. The streets are lined with some 431,000 trees. 2,500 parks and green areas offer Berlin residents and visitors space to rest and relax. Furthermore, there are 890 allotment gardens with over 71,000 gardens in the city.

●... as a consequence of the former division of the city, Berlin has two zoos: Tierpark Berlin in Friedrichsfelde, with beautiful outdoor enclosures, and Zoologischer Garten with its adjoining aquarium? Both of the capital’s zoos are good at setting records. With over 29,000 animals, together they possess a population unrivalled anywhere else in the world for its diversity and rareness. Berlin’s Zoologischer Garten was established about 175 years ago and is the oldest surviving zoo in Germany, the third-oldest in Europe and also the zoo with the most diversity of species in the world. The neighbouring aquarium has also won the distinction of being among the largest in the world. Another record: Tierpark Friedrichsfelde is the largest parkland zoo in Europe, with a surface area of 160 hectares.

●... the only panda bears in Germany can be seen at the Berlin Zoo? Since 2017 Meng Meng and Jiao Qing have been living in the specially built Panda Garden and have not only conquered the hearts of Berliners* in a very short time. A sweet sensation was the birth of panda twins in August 2019, and Mengxiang (translated "Yearning Dream") and Mengyuan ("Fulfilled Dream"), also affectionately known as Pit and Paule, have been turning the life of panda mum Meng Meng upside down ever since.

●... the highest tree in Berlin is a European larch that was planted in the Tegel Forest in 1795? It has reached a height of 45 metres over the centuries. The oldest tree is also in Tegel, a 900 year-old English oak. It is 26 metres high and the circumference of its trunk is 6.65 metres. It was apparently given the name Dicke Marie (fat Marie) by Alexander and Wilhelm von Humboldt.

●… there are four different types of lime trees along the Unter den Linden boulevard in Berlin-Mitte? These are the silver lime, small-leaved lime, Greenspire lime and Pallida lime.

●... the largest lake in the city is the Großer Müggelsee, which has a surface area of almost 7.4 square kilometres? The smallest lake, the Pechsee in the Grunewald forest, only covers 3,000 square metres.


Verkehr in Berlin ©  visitBerlin, Foto: Thomas Kierok
Verkehr in Berlin

●… the Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (Berlin Transport Company) transported around 1.1 billion passengers in 2019? Of these, 563 million rode the underground, 197 million travelled by tram and 442 million took buses or ferries.

●... there are more than 200 kilometres of navigable waterways in Berlin’s urban area? With a length of 46 kilometres, the Spree is the longest river in the city and the Teltow Canal is the longest canal in the urban area, at a length of 38 kilometres. Visitors can also discover Berlin on a pleasure boat; the selection of tours on offer ranges from short cruises to boat trips which are several hours long.

●… there are also six ferries in the Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (Berlin Transport Company) network? One of these travels all year round from the Wannsee train station to Alt-Kladow, another travels from Müggelheim to Rahnsdorf in the warmer months of the year.

… the longest ferry route in Berlin, the F10, travels over the Großer Wannsee (Great Wannsee lake)? The journey is 4.4 kilometres long.

●… the German capital’s public road network is 5,452 kilometres long?

●... with the building of Berlin Hauptbahnhof the city got the first real central station in its history – and indeed the largest in Europe? Around 300,000 travellers board 1,300 regional and long-distance trains here every day.

●... figuratively, all of Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe’s vehicles put together circumnavigate the globe 316 times a day? The underground covers 2.56 billion kilometres a year, buses 1.47 billion kilometres and trams 606 million kilometres. This is the equivalent of 115,500 journeys around the globe a year. .

●… there is always a public transport stop within a radius of 500 metres?

Culinaric Berlin

Wochenmarkt auf dem Kollwitzplatz ©  visitBerlin, Foto: Philip Koschel
Wochenmarkt auf dem Kollwitzplatz

●... Berlin’s Kaufhaus des Westens, founded in 1907 and better known as KaDeWe, is the largest department store in continental Europe? There are 60,000 square metres of retail space over its six floors - this is the equivalent of eight football fields. 64 escalators and 26 lifts transport over 50,000 visitors every day, 40% of who are tourists. The gourmet food department is famous. It comprises 7,000 square metres of space, offers around 34,000 different products and is the largest food department in Europe.

●... Berlin’s oldest pub is almost 400 years old and is still operating today? Zur letzten Instanz has been situated on Waisenstraße since 1621, once had Napoleon as a guest and is now also visited by numerous celebrities.

●... Berlin is the capital for gourmets? 24 restaurants in the city have been awarded a total of 31 Michelin stars, putting Berlin ahead of Munich and Hamburg. Since 2020, Berlin has also had a 3-star restaurant, the "Rutz", for the first time. Bon appetit!  

●… there is a restaurant on the rooftop of the German Bundestag? It is the only restaurant in the world situated in a parliamentary building that is open to the public. Advance registration is however required.

●... there are more döner shops in Berlin than in Istanbul, 1,600 of them in total, selling around 400,000 döners a day? According to legend, the döner in its most well known and popular form (strips of meat from a spit served with salad and sauce in flat bread) was invented in Berlin at the start of the 1970s. However, two restaurateurs – Kadim Numan and Mehmet Aygün – both claim ownership of it.

●... the most famous bakery treat in Berlin is a fist-sized doughnut filled with jam? It is known throughout Germany as a Berliner, only in Berlin would you search in vain for this item under this name. That’s because here it is simply called a Pfannkuchen (pancake). And what is called a Pfannkuchen elsewhere in Germany (an actual pancake) is known as an Eierkuchen (egg cake) in Berlin. 

●... the centuries-old tradition of viticulture has been taken up again in Berlin over the last few decades? Of the 10 vineyards in the urban area, the one in Kreuzberg is the most famous, but grapes are also grown in Wilmersdorf, Schöneberg, Mitte, Neukölln and Prenzlauer Berg. The largest vineyard is approximately 5,000 square metres and is located in Britz in the district of Neukölln. The most northern vineyard is situated in Humboldthain in the Gesundbrunnen area. Grapes from this vineyard are pressed to make Berlin's only sparkling wine.

●... Berlin has its own beer speciality? Berliner Weiße is a bubbly, slightly bitter beer that is produced from a mix of wheat and barley malt and is fermented in the bottle. Served with a shot of raspberry or woodruff syrup, it is a refreshing summer drink.

●... Berlin is the capital of the German craft beer scene? Almost 30 breweries now have aromatic varieties from Pale Ale to IPA on tap.

More Fun Facts

●... the feet of the "Goldelse" on the top of the victory column are 92 cm long? Converted this would correspond to shoe size 138!

●...there are over 250 weekly markets spread out across Berlin’s urban area? The Turkish Market on Neukölln’s Maybachufer is especially popular. Every Tuesday and Friday it offers an eclectic assortment of fruit and vegetables, Turkish specialities and colourful fabrics. On Saturdays, many market goers are drawn to Winterfeldtplatz in Schöneberg and Kollwitzplatz in Prenzlauer Berg. The products on offer range from organic produce and specialities from many countries, to felt shoes, handicrafts and natural cosmetics.

●... the international SOS emergency signal was agreed on at the World Radiocommunication Conference in Berlin in 1906?

●... the Berlin football club Hertha BSC, which was founded in 1892, was named after a pleasure boat that one of the co-founders took a trip on with his father?

●... the quadriga chariot on top of the Brandenburg Gate was stolen by Napoleon and taken to France in 1806? He transported the Berlin landmark there as a symbol of his victory over Prussia in the Battle of Jena-Auerstedt. It was brought back to Berlin after the victory of the European allies over Napoleon in 1814. Since then the quadriga has been nicknamed the tit-for-tat carriage. Despite rumours to the contrary, the quadriga has always pointed eastwards – towards the old city of Berlin.

●... Berlin is an in demand scenery for international films and series? "Babylon Berlin" was shot here, as was the fifth season of the US hit series "Homeland" and blockbusters such as "Inglourious Basterds" and "The First Avenger: Civil War". A particularly popular film location was Peacock Island. It was the scenery for six Edgar Wallace films, including "Neues vom Hexer" and "Der Mönch mit der Weitsche".

●... many names in the city have their origins in the days of Prussian kings and the House of Hohenzollern, for who only a few first names were in fashion over the last 300 years? These include Friedrichstadt and Friedrichstraße, Friedrichstadt-Palast and Friedrichswerder, Friedrichshain, Friedrichsfelde, Friedrichshagen, Wilhelmstraße and Wilhelmshagen.

●... the longest street in the city is the Adlergestell which stretches 11.9 kilometres from Adlershof to Schmöckwitz? And the shortest lane is the Eiergasse in the Nikolai quarter, which is only 16 metres long? The widest is not Breite Straße as the name ‘wide street’ suggests, but rather Straße des 17. Juni, which is 85.2 metres wide.

●... in the olden days, Berlin already ended at the Brandenburg Gate? The historical city border can still be recognised in the street names, such as Wallstraße, Mauerstraße, Linienstraße and Palisadenstraße. The former city gates are now predominantly preserved in the form of underground station names – Schlesisches, Kottbusser, Hallesches and Oranienburger Tor.

●... Berlin’s second highest elevation, the 120 metre-high Teufelsberg, consists of rubble? After the war, 26 million cubic metres of rubble were heaped here.

●... Berlin has the approximately the same width of London and the same length of Naples in Italy?

●... nine American presidents have visited Berlin since WWII? John F. Kennedy’s utterance “Ich bin ein Berliner” (“I am a Berliner”, 1963) and Ronald Reagan’s emphatic exclamation “Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” (1987) are unforgettable.

●... visitors from West Berlin had to change at least 25 Deutsche Marks per day into East German Marks at an exchange rate of 1:1 when they visited the Eastern part of the city during the era of the Berlin Wall? Money not spent could not be exchanged back again. It could however be deposited at the border branch of the GDR state bank and withdrawn at the next visit. A visa cost five Deutsche Marks for tourists from West Germany, for West Berliners it was free of charge.

●... Berlin’s city border is 234 kilometres long? The longest stretch from East to West is 45 kilometres, and from North to South 38 kilometres. ●... die erste Ampelanlage Europas 1924 auf dem Potsdamer Platz in Betrieb genommen wurde? Ein Nachbau des Ampelturms ist heute noch dort zu bewundern. 

●...the first traffic lights in Europe were put into operation at Potsdamer Platz in 1924? A replica of the traffic light tower can still be admired there today. 

●...  the city of inventors is? Many useful things that are now an integral part of our everyday life have their origin in Berlin. These include the computer, the thermos flask and the torch.

●... with an area of 892 square kilometres Berlin is almost nine times larger than Paris?

●… four Germans set a Guinness World Record in November 2014? They travelled to all 173 Berlin underground stations in just 7 hours, 33 minutes and 15 seconds.



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