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Cities in the Spotlight: Berlin, Germany

Today we are taking another trip to Europe this time we are heading to Berlin, Germany.


Berlin City Information

Berlin is the capital and largest city of Germany by both area and population. Its 3.6 million inhabitants make it the European Union's most populous city, according to the population within city limits. One of Germany's sixteen constituent states, Berlin is surrounded by the State of Brandenburg and contiguous with Potsdam, Brandenburg's capital. Berlin's urban area, which has a population of around 4.5 million, is the second most populous urban area in Germany after the Ruhr. The Berlin-Brandenburg capital region has around 6.2 million inhabitants and is Germany's third-largest metropolitan region after the Rhine-Ruhr and Rhine-Main regions. Berlin straddles the banks of the Spree, which flows into the Havel (a tributary of the Elbe) in the western borough of Spandau. Among the city's main topographical features are the many lakes in the western and southeastern boroughs formed by the Spree, Havel and Dahme, the largest of which is Lake Müggelsee. Due to its location in the European Plain, Berlin is influenced by a temperate seasonal climate. About one-third of the city's area is composed of forests, parks, gardens, rivers, canals, and lakes. The city lies in the Central German dialect area, the Berlin dialect being a variant of the Lusatian-New Marchian dialects.

Berlin is a world city of culture, politics, media, and science. Its economy is based on high-tech firms and the service sector, encompassing a diverse range of creative industries, startup companies, research facilities, media corporations, and convention venues. Berlin serves as a continental hub for air and rail traffic and has a highly complex public transportation network. The metropolis is a popular tourist destination. Significant industries also include IT, healthcare, biomedical engineering, biotechnology, automotive, construction, electronics, social economy, and clean tech. Berlin is home to world-renowned universities such as the Humboldt University, the Technical University, the Free University, the University of the Arts, ESMT Berlin, the Hertie School, and Bard College Berlin. Its Zoological Garden is the most visited zoo in Europe and one of the most popular worldwide. With Babelsberg being the world's first large-scale movie studio complex, Berlin is an increasingly popular location for international film productions. The city is well known for its festivals, diverse architecture, nightlife, contemporary arts, and a very high quality of life. Since the 2000s, Berlin has seen the emergence of a cosmopolitan entrepreneurial scene.

Berlin is also home to three World Heritage Sites: Museum Island; the Palaces and Parks of Potsdam and Berlin; and the Modernism Housing Estates. Other landmarks include the Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag building, Potsdamer Platz, the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, the Berlin Wall Memorial, the East Side Gallery, the Berlin Victory Column, Berlin Cathedral, and the Berlin Television Tower, the tallest structure in Germany. Berlin has numerous museums, galleries, libraries, orchestras, and sporting events. These include Museum Island with Berlin Palace, German Historical Museum, Jewish Museum, Natural History Museum, State Library, State Opera, Philharmonic, and the Berlin Marathon.


Berlin Historical Significance

The earliest evidence of settlements in the area of today's Berlin are remnants of a house foundation dated to 1174, found in excavations in Berlin Mitte, and a wooden beam dated from approximately 1192. The first written records of towns in the area of present-day Berlin date from the late 12th century. Spandau is first mentioned in 1197 and Köpenick in 1209, although these areas did not join Berlin until 1920. The central part of Berlin can be traced back to two towns. Cölln on the Fischerinsel is first mentioned in a 1237 document, and Berlin, across the Spree in what is now called the Nikolaiviertel, is referenced in a document from 1244. 1237 is considered the founding date of the city. The two towns over time formed close economic and social ties, and profited from the staple right on the two important trade routes Via Imperii and from Bruges to Novgorod. In 1307, they formed an alliance with a common external policy, their internal administrations still being separated.

In 1415, Frederick I became the elector of the Margraviate of Brandenburg, which he ruled until 1440. During the 15th century, his successors established Berlin-Cölln as capital of the margraviate, and subsequent members of the Hohenzollern family ruled in Berlin until 1918, first as electors of Brandenburg, then as kings of Prussia, and eventually as German emperors. In 1443, Frederick II Irontooth started the construction of a new royal palace in the twin city Berlin-Cölln. The protests of the town citizens against the building culminated in 1448, in the "Berlin Indignation" ("Berliner Unwille"). This protest was not successful and the citizenry lost many of its political and economic privileges. After the royal palace was finished in 1451, it gradually came into use. From 1470, with the new elector Albrecht III Achilles, Berlin-Cölln became the new royal residence. Officially, the Berlin-Cölln palace became the permanent residence of the Brandenburg electors of the Hohenzollerns from 1486, when John Cicero came to power. Berlin-Cölln, however, had to give up its status as a free Hanseatic city. In 1539, the electors and the city officially became Lutheran.

The Thirty Years' War between 1618 and 1648 devastated Berlin. One third of its houses were damaged or destroyed, and the city lost half of its population. Frederick William, known as the "Great Elector", who had succeeded his father George William as ruler in 1640, initiated a policy of promoting immigration and religious tolerance. With the Edict of Potsdam in 1685, Frederick William offered asylum to the French Huguenots. By 1700, approximately 30 percent of Berlin's residents were French, because of the Huguenot immigration. Many other immigrants came from Bohemia, Poland, and Salzburg. Since 1618, the Margraviate of Brandenburg had been in personal union with the Duchy of Prussia. In 1701, the dual state formed the Kingdom of Prussia, as Frederick III, Elector of Brandenburg, crowned himself as king Frederick I in Prussia. Berlin became the capital of the new Kingdom, replacing Königsberg. This was a successful attempt to centralise the capital in the very far-flung state, and it was the first time the city began to grow. In 1709, Berlin merged with the four cities of Cölln, Friedrichswerder, Friedrichstadt and Dorotheenstadt under the name Berlin, "Haupt- und Residenzstadt Berlin".

In 1740, Frederick II, known as Frederick the Great (1740–1786), came to power. Under the rule of Frederick II, Berlin became a center of the Enlightenment, but also, was briefly occupied during the Seven Years' War by the Russian army. Following France's victory in the War of the Fourth Coalition, Napoleon Bonaparte marched into Berlin in 1806, but granted self-government to the city. In 1815, the city became part of the new Province of Brandenburg. The Industrial Revolution transformed Berlin during the 19th century; the city's economy and population expanded dramatically, and it became the main railway hub and economic center of Germany. Additional suburbs soon developed and increased the area and population of Berlin. In 1861, neighboring suburbs including Wedding, Moabit and several others were incorporated into Berlin. In 1871, Berlin became capital of the newly founded German Empire. In 1881, it became a city district separate from Brandenburg.

In the early 20th century, Berlin had become a fertile ground for the German Expressionist movement. In fields such as architecture, painting and cinema new forms of artistic styles were invented. At the end of the First World War in 1918, a republic was proclaimed by Philipp Scheidemann at the Reichstag building. In 1920, the Greater Berlin Act incorporated dozens of suburban cities, villages, and estates around Berlin into an expanded city. The act increased the area of Berlin from 66 to 883 km2 (25 to 341 sq mi). The population almost doubled, and Berlin had a population of around four million. During the Weimar era, Berlin underwent political unrest due to economic uncertainties but also became a renowned center of the Roaring Twenties. The metropolis experienced its heyday as a major world capital and was known for its leadership roles in science, technology, arts, the humanities, city planning, film, higher education, government, and industries. Albert Einstein rose to public prominence during his years in Berlin, being awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1921.

In 1933, Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party came to power. The National Socialist regime embarked on monumental construction projects in Berlin as a way to express their power and authority through architecture. Hitler envisioned Berlin's renewal projects were to turn the city into the new capital of the Greater Germanic Reich. NSDAP rule diminished Berlin's Jewish community from 160,000 (one-third of all Jews in the country) to about 80,000 due to emigration between 1933 and 1939. After Kristallnacht in 1938, thousands of the city's Jews were imprisoned in the nearby Sachsenhausen concentration camp. Starting in early 1943, many were shipped to concentration camps, such as Auschwitz. During World War II, large parts of Berlin were destroyed during 1943–45 Allied air raids and the 1945 Battle of Berlin. The Allies dropped 67,607 tons of bombs on the city, destroying 6,427 acres of the built-up area. Around 125,000 civilians were killed. After the end of the war in Europe in May 1945, Berlin received large numbers of refugees from the Eastern provinces. The victorious powers divided the city into four sectors, analogous to the occupation zones into which Germany was divided. The sectors of the Western Allies (the United States, the United Kingdom, and France) formed West Berlin, while the Soviet sector formed East Berlin.

All four Allies shared administrative responsibilities for Berlin. However, in 1948, when the Western Allies extended the currency reform in the Western zones of Germany to the three western sectors of Berlin, the Soviet Union imposed a blockade on the access routes to and from West Berlin, which lay entirely inside Soviet-controlled territory. The Berlin airlift, conducted by the three western Allies, overcame this blockade by supplying food and other supplies to the city from June 1948 to May 1949. In 1949, the Federal Republic of Germany was founded in West Germany and eventually included all of the American, British and French zones, excluding those three countries' zones in Berlin, while the Marxist-Leninist German Democratic Republic was proclaimed in East Germany. West Berlin officially remained an occupied city, but it politically was aligned with the Federal Republic of Germany despite West Berlin's geographic isolation. Airline service to West Berlin was granted only to American, British and French airlines.

The founding of the two German states increased Cold War tensions. West Berlin was surrounded by East German territory, and East Germany proclaimed the Eastern part as its capital, a move the western powers did not recognize. East Berlin included most of the city's historic center. The West German government established itself in Bonn. In 1961, East Germany began to build the Berlin Wall around West Berlin, and events escalated to a tank standoff at Checkpoint Charlie. West Berlin was now de facto a part of West Germany with a unique legal status, while East Berlin was de facto a part of East Germany. John F. Kennedy gave his "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech on June 26, 1963, in front of the Schöneberg city hall, located in the city's western part, underlining the US support for West Berlin. Berlin was completely divided. Although it was possible for Westerners to pass to the other side through strictly controlled checkpoints, for most Easterners, travel to West Berlin or West Germany was prohibited by the government of East Germany. In 1971, a Four-Power agreement guaranteed access to and from West Berlin by car or train through East Germany.

In 1989, with the end of the Cold War and pressure from the East German population, the Berlin Wall fell on 9 November and was subsequently mostly demolished. Today, the East Side Gallery preserves a large portion of the wall. On 3 October 1990, the two parts of Germany were reunified as the Federal Republic of Germany, and Berlin again became a reunified city. Walter Momper, the mayor of West Berlin, became the first mayor of the reunified city in the interim. City-wide elections in December 1990 resulted in the first "all Berlin" mayor being elected to take office in January 1991, with the separate offices of mayors in East and West Berlin expiring by that time, and Eberhard Diepgen (a former mayor of West Berlin) became the first elected mayor of a reunited Berlin. On 18 June 1994, soldiers from the United States, France and Britain marched in a parade which was part of the ceremonies to mark the withdrawal of allied occupation troops allowing a reunified Berlin (the last Russian troops departed on 31 August, while the final departure of Western Allies forces was on 8 September 1994). On 20 June 1991, the Bundestag (German Parliament) voted to move the seat of the German capital from Bonn to Berlin, which was completed in 1999.

The legal basis for a combined state of Berlin and Brandenburg is different from other state fusion proposals. Normally, Article 29 of the Basic Law stipulates that a state fusion requires a federal law. However, a clause added to the Basic Law in 1994, Article 118a, allows Berlin and Brandenburg to unify without federal approval, requiring a referendum and a ratification by both state parliaments. In 1996, there was an unsuccessful attempt of unifying the states of Berlin and Brandenburg. Both share a common history, dialect, and culture and in 2020, there are over 225.000 residents of Brandenburg that commute to Berlin. The fusion had the near-unanimous support by a broad coalition of both state governments, political parties, media, business associations, trade unions, and churches. Though Berlin voted in favor by a small margin, largely based on support in former West Berlin, Brandenburg voters disapproved of the fusion by a large margin. It failed largely due to Brandenburg voters not wanting to take on Berlin's large and growing public debt and fearing losing identity and influence to the capital.


Travel to Berlin

*taken from Lonely Planet*

Berlin's combo of glamour and grit is bound to mesmerise all those keen to explore its vibrant culture, cutting-edge architecture, fabulous food, intense parties and tangible history.

Bismarck and Marx, Einstein and Hitler, JFK and Bowie, they’ve all shaped – and been shaped by – Berlin, whose richly textured history confronts you at every turn. This is a city that staged a revolution, was headquartered by Nazis, bombed to bits, divided in two and finally reunited – and that was just in the 20th century! Walk along remnants of the Berlin Wall, marvel at the splendour of a Prussian palace, visit Checkpoint Charlie or stand in the very room where the Holocaust was planned. Berlin is like an endlessly fascinating 3D textbook where the past is very much present wherever you go. Forget about New York – Berlin is the city that truly never sleeps. Sometimes it seems as though Berliners are the lotus-eaters of Germany, people who love nothing more than a good time. The city's vast party spectrum caters for every taste, budget and age group. From tiny basement clubs to industrial techno temples, chestnut-canopied beer gardens to fancy cocktail caverns, saucy cabarets to ear-pleasing symphonies – Berlin delivers hot-stepping odysseys, and not just after dark and on weekends but pretty much 24/7. Pack your stamina!

When it comes to creativity, the sky’s the limit in Berlin, which is one of Europe's big start-up capitals. In the last 20 years, the city has become a giant lab of cultural experimentation thanks to a spirit that nurtures and encourages new ideas as well as to once abundant space and cheap rent. Although the last two of these are definitely a thing of the past. Top international performers still grace Berlin's theatre, concert and opera stages; international art-world stars like Olafur Eliasson and Jonathan Meese make their home here; and Clooney and Hanks shoot blockbusters in the German capital. Highbrow, lowbrow and everything in between – there’s plenty of room for the full gamut of cultural expression. Berlin is a big multicultural metropolis but deep down it maintains the unpretentious charm of an international village. Locals and expats follow the credo 'live and let live' and put greater emphasis on personal freedom and a creative lifestyle than on material wealth and status symbols. Cafes are jammed at all hours, drinking is a religious rite and clubs keep going through the weekend into Monday. Size-wise, Berlin is pretty big but its key areas are wonderfully compact and easily navigated on foot, by bike or with public transport.


Must See Sites

Museumsinsel; Walk through ancient Babylon, meet an Egyptian queen, clamber up a Greek altar or be mesmerized by Monet's ethereal landscapes. Welcome to Museumsinsel (Museum Island), a one-of-a-kind collection of five grand museums capturing diverse cultures and historical periods through rare artifacts. Museumsinsel is situated on the northern half of Spreeinsel, a small island in the River Spree, where Berlin's settlement began in the 13th century. Spread across five buildings constructed under Prussian rulers, Berlin's most important treasure trove spans 6000 years’ worth of art, artifacts, sculpture and architecture from Europe and beyond. The first facility to open was the Altes Museum, which presents Greek, Etruscan and Roman antiquities. Behind it, the Neues Museum showcases the Egyptian collection, most famously the Nefertiti Bust, and also houses the Museum für Vor- und Frühgeschichte (Museum of Pre- and Early History). The temple-like Alte Nationalgalerie focuses on 19th-century European art, while the island's top drawcard, the Pergamonmuseum, displays monumental architecture from ancient worlds, including the stunning Ishtar Gate from Babylon. Last but not least, the Bode-Museum, at the island's northern tip, is famous for its medieval sculptures. In addition to the museums, Museumsinsel is also home to the lovely Lustgarten park and Berliner Dom (Berlin Cathedral).

Neues Museum; For over 60 years, not a soul was able to visit Berlin’s Neues Museum – in fact, it sat in ruins. But today it’s one of the city’s most celebrated attractions thanks to an extraordinary architectural design blending past and present with ancient historic collections. After decades of disuse, an extreme makeover for the bombed-out Neues Museum was unveiled in 2009. Like a giant jigsaw puzzle, British starchitect David Chipperfield's design incorporates every original shard, scrap and brick that could be found into this dynamic space. Massive stairwells, intimate domed rooms, mural walls and airy, high-ceilinged halls are juxtaposed with modern concrete elements and gray scars on damaged friezes – bringing the neoclassical building’s past into a future that remembers.

Pergamonmuseum; The Pergamonmuseum is one of Berlin’s most visited historical gems and perhaps also its most controversial. This museum offers an archaeological time-warp back to the ancient worlds of Babylon, Greece, Rome and beyond – and some argue that its artifacts should be returned to where they were found. One of the world’s largest museums, welcoming around 800,000 visitors annually, the Pergamon is a palatial three-wing complex uniting classical sculpture, monumental architecture and excavated treasures in dainty glass cases. It comprises three major collections, the Antikensammlung (Collection of Classical Antiquities), the Museum für Islamische Kunst (Museum of Islamic Art) and the Vorderasiatisches Museum (Museum of the Ancient Near East). Key exhibits include an excavated reconstruction of the radiant-blue Ishtar Gate from Babylon, which more than 2600 years ago served as the ancient city’s Processional Way. Also impressive is the giant Market Gate of Miletus linking up Asia and Europe for Roman patrons and the Pergamon Altar, an ancient Greek victory monument now considered the zenith of Hellenic art. Since 2013, the Pergamon has been undergoing an extensive renovation to the tune of €477 million (about $560 million). Currently, the Pergamon’s central building (where the Pergamon Altar as well as several other rooms are located) is off-limits and will reopen in 2025 at the earliest. In the meantime, visitors can see a temporary 360º panorama exhibition of how Pergamon and its altar would have looked in 129 BC. The display, which also includes sculptures and other works from the museum, was created by renowned Berlin artist Yadegar Asisi.

Schloss Charlottenburg; Charlottenburg Palace is one of Berlin's few sites that still reflect the one-time grandeur of the Hohenzollern clan, which ruled the region from 1415 to 1918. Originally a petite summer retreat, it grew into an exquisite baroque pile with opulent private apartments, richly decorated festival halls, collections of precious porcelain and paintings by French 18th-century masters. It's lovely in fine weather, when you can fold a stroll in the palace park into a day of peeking at royal treasures. The palace's oldest section, the Altes Schloss, is an extravaganza in stucco, brocade and overall opulence. Highlights include: the Oak Gallery, a wood-panelled festival hall draped in family portraits; the lovely Oval Hall, with views of the gardens; Friedrich I’s bedchamber, with the first-ever bathroom in a baroque palace; and the fabulous Porcelain Chamber, smothered top to bottom in Chinese and Japanese blue ware. Charlottenburg's most beautiful rooms are the flamboyant private chambers of Frederick the Great in the Neuer Flügel extension, designed in 1746 by the period's star architect Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff. Standouts include the confection-like White Hall banquet room, the mirrored and gilded Golden Gallery and the paintings by Watteau, Pesne and other 18th-century French masters. In the same wing, the apartments of Queen Luise (1776–1810), wife of King Friedrich Wilhelm III, are decked out with lavish chandeliers, period furniture and hand-painted silk wall coverings. The adjacent Schinkel-designed Neuer Pavillon served as a summer retreat for Friedrich Wilhelm III and now houses paintings from the Romantic and Biedermeier periods. A stroll around the sprawling palace park, with its shady walkways, flower beds and manicured lawns, is a must; you’ll stumble upon the pint-size palace called Belvedere, now an elegant setting for porcelain masterpieces by the royal manufacturer KPM. Across the carp pond awaits the 1810 neoclassical Mausoleum, where various royals, including Kaiser Wilhelm I and his wife, are entombed in ornate marble sarcophagi.

Reichstag; It’s been burned, bombed, rebuilt, buttressed by the Wall, wrapped in fabric and finally turned into the modern home of the German parliament by Norman Foster: the 1894 Reichstag is indeed one of Berlin’s most iconic buildings. Its most distinctive feature, the glittering glass dome, is served by a lift and affords fabulous 360° city views. For guaranteed access, make free reservations online; otherwise try scoring tickets at the Reichstag Visitors' Centre for the same or next day. Bring ID.

Deutsches Historisches Museum; If you’re wondering what the Germans have been up to for the past 1500 years, take a spin around the baroque Zeughaus, formerly the Prussian arsenal and now home of the German Historical Museum. Upstairs, displays concentrate on the period from the 6th century AD to the end of WWI in 1918, while the ground floor tracks the 20th century all the way through to the early years after German reunification.

Holocaust Memorial; Inaugurated in 2005, this football-field-sized memorial by American architect Peter Eisenman consists of 2711 sarcophagi-like concrete columns rising in sombre silence from the undulating ground. You’re free to access this maze at any point and make your individual journey through it. For context visit the subterranean Ort der Information, whose exhibits will leave no one untouched. Audioguides and audio translations of exhibit panels are available.

Brandenburger Tor; A symbol of division during the Cold War, the landmark Brandenburg Gate now epitomises German reunification. Carl Gotthard Langhans found inspiration in Athens’ Acropolis for the elegant triumphal arch, completed in 1791 as the royal city gate. It stands sentinel over Pariser Platz, a harmoniously proportioned square once again framed by banks, a hotel and the US, British and French embassies, just as it was during its 19th-century heyday.


Must Try Food & Drink

Currywurst; No other dish in Germany is as well known as currywurst, a street snack that has become an indispensable part of Germany’s culinary heritage. The dish is made from two essential parts - boiled and subsequently fried sausage, served whole or sliced, and a smooth and rich curry-spiced tomato sauce. With a portion of french fries or a kaiser roll on the side, the dish is usually lightly dusted with yellow curry powder. A wide range of sausages are used for currywurst, but the famous German bratwurst is the most commonly used variety. The real star of this dish is its gravy-like sauce made with puréed tomatoes and infused with the aromatic curry powder. The popularity of currywurst in Germany has generated numerous legends about its origins. Even though Hamburg is sometimes mentioned as its birthplace, Berlin is the city that is most commonly associated with the invention of this delicious dish. The most famous legend tells the story of Herta Heuwer, a Berlin local who is widely credited as the inventor of the tomato and curry concoction. In 1949, amid the aftermath of World War II, many ingredients were hard to come by and life was tough. However, thanks to Herta’s negotiating skills, she was able to get hold of a hard to come by ingredient – British yellow curry powder. She then mixed it with puréed tomatoes and other spices to create the base sauce, which she served with the sliced sausage. The dish became an instant success. Herta patented her creation and never revealed her original recipe. Later, as currywurst grew in popularity, numerous varieties popped up all over Berlin and the rest of Germany. No two are the same, and every local has their own favorite style and a favorite currywurst place. Germans are so fond of this fast food staple that they have even built a museum in its honor. Located in Berlin, the Currywurst Museum offers a glimpse into the history of the legendary currywurst, as well as a detailed overview of the numerous varieties, cooking styles, and serving options of this famous dish.

Strammer Max; Strammer Max is a German open-faced sandwich that's served warm and has numerous variations. It's usually made with a slice of rye or wheat flour bread that can be toasted and buttered or fried in oil or butter. The bread is seasoned with salt, pepper, and (sometimes) mustard. It is then topped with slices of cured ham and a fried egg to finish it off. Due to the fact that it's quick and easy to prepare the sandwich, it spread throughout the country, but it's especially popular in Berlin, where it's an integral part of the city's food culture. Nowadays it can be found anywhere from street food stands and pubs to upscale restaurants. The most popular variations include Stramme Lotte, made with cooked ham, and Strammer Otto, with slices of salami or beef. In Bavaria, the sandwich is made with a slice of leberkäse, while a ladle of goulash as the topping is a specialty of Cologne.

Eierkuchen; Eierkuchen are traditional German pancakes made by combining eggs, flour, milk, butter, baking powder, sugar, and salt. The batter is typically flavored with vanilla extract or cinnamon, although the sugar and other sweet flavorings may be omitted to make a savory version of these pancakes. A layer of batter is poured into melted butter or oil using a ladle, making sure the mixture covers the bottom of the pan forming a thin and round pancake. The pancakes are cooked on both sides until nicely browned, and they are then enjoyed while still warm, usually slathered with applesauce, fruit preserves, jams, or chocolate-hazelnut spreads. Also known as pfannkuchen, this simple treat is traditionally eaten for breakfast or as a sweet snack at any time of the day.

Berliner Weisse; Berliner Weisse is a wheat beer that is characterized by low alcohol content, sour flavor, and a light body. Most representatives of the style are soured with the use of lactic acid bacteria, which gives the beer its specific funky, tart, and fizzy character. The origin of Berliner Weisse is unclear. Although there are several theories explaining its origin, the most probable claims that the style evolved from the now-extinct Breyhan or Broyhan beer from Hannover. Weisse was especially popular in the 19th century, and it is even said that when Napoleon encountered this beer style in Germany, he named it the Champagne of the north. By the late 1990s, the style almost disappeared, but lately it has been slowly revived, mostly by craft breweries. In Germany, these wheat beers are often served with raspberry (himbeer) or woodruff (waldmeister) sugar syrups. To mellow it down, sometimes the beer is also mixed with pilsner. Following this tradition, many modern brews may incorporate various fruit. Because of its crisp and refreshing flavor, Berlin Weisse beer is a food-friendly beer that goes well with a variety of dishes. Unsweetened versions would match fruit desserts, goat cheese, and salty snacks.

Fassbrause; Fassbrause is a German drink made from fruit, spices, and malt extract. It was invented in Berlin in 1908 by a German chemist Ludwig Scholvin as a non-alcoholic beer substitute for his son. In color, it strongly resembles a beer, with a sweet apple flavor. Depending on the brand, fassbrause can be both non-alcoholic and alcoholic. The literal translation of the name means keg soda which is also the traditional way of storing it.

Hoppelpoppel; Hoppelpoppel is a traditional German dish originating from Berlin. The dish is usually made with a combination of boiled potatoes, butter or olive oil, onions, bell peppers, eggs, milk, parsley, and pork loin or salami. This popular way to use leftovers is made in a skillet – the potatoes, vegetables, and meat are fried in butter or olive oil, and the eggs, parsley, and milk are poured over the mixture until the eggs are set but still moist. The dish is served on a large platter, usually garnished with tomatoes and pickles. Hoppelpoppel also often appears on Midwestern diner menus in the United States.

Schnitzel Holstein; This German dish is a variation of the well-known Wiener schnitzel that originated sometime in the late 19th century. Though it appears in slightly different regional variations, Holstein schnitzel predominantly consists of a breaded and lightly fried veal cutlet that comes served with various additions. A fried egg is always served on top of the schnitzel, while other additions traditionally include smoked salmon, caviar, sardines, capers, or anchovies. The dish is said to have been created at a Berlin restaurant Borchardt’s, and many believe it was named after a German statesman Friedrich von Holstein rather than the Holstein region. This filling main course is usually paired with fried slices of bread or croutons, fried potatoes, red cabbage, gherkins, or beetroot.

Käsekuchen; German-style cheesecake is a traditional dessert consisting of a thin layer of shortcrust pastry that is topped with a creamy combination of quark cheese, eggs, and (occasionally) various fruits. Even though käsekuchen is often compared to the classic American cheesecake, the use of lightly acidic quark cheese results in a light, scrumptious treat that perfectly combines sweet and sour flavors. Usually served dusted with powdered sugar, käsekuchen is a classic German dessert that is commonly enjoyed as an everyday treat alongside coffee or tea.

Pretzel; Considered an iconic symbol of Germany, the pretzel is a type of traditional baked good that is made by combining flour, salt, malt, yeast, and water. The resulting dough is then shaped into a well-known knotted shape of a pretzel before it is baked. Pretzels are often dipped in a lye solution (natronlauge in German) before they are baked, and then they are called laugenbrezel, a Bavarian-style pretzel distinguished by a nice, brown, and crispy exterior that surrounds the soft interior. Coarse salt is usually sprinkled over the surface of the pretzels, but other toppings may also be used, including sesame, pumpkin, sunflower, or poppy seeds. Regional variations of the pretzel abound, with some of them using fat to obtain a softer dough and others calling for different types of flour such as whole wheat flour or spelt flour. German pretzels come in both sweet and savory versions, and their texture may range from soft to hard. They are usually enjoyed warm as a snack with butter or along with German wurst sausages and a cold German beer on the side for an authentic German experience. The pretzel is a favorite street snack and a staple at any festival, holiday, and Christmas market in the country. Its versatile nature has given rise to numerous variations including New Year’s pretzels (neujahrbrezel), Oktoberfest pretzels (also called wiesnbrezn), and Lent pretzels (fastenbrezeln), among many others. In Alsace, France, the pretzel is known as bretzel d'Alsace.

Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte; Black Forest cherry cake is a popular German dessert consisting of chocolate sponges that are coated in whipped cream and dotted with kirschwasser-infused cherries. Some varieties use the kirschwasser brandy to soak the chocolate layers or to lightly flavor the whipped cream. When assembled, the cake is lavishly decorated with whipped cream, chocolate shavings, and cherries. Among the numerous theories about its invention, it is still debated whether the cake was created by confectioner Josef Keller or pastry chef Erwin Hildenbrand. What is certain is that Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte originated in the Black Forest area and was in all likelihood modeled on the colors of the regional folk dresses. Since its first appearance in written form in 1934, it has become a well-known German dessert that is enjoyed throughout the country.


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