Aerial View-Berlin Wall Memorial ,Berlin, Germany

Berlin Wall Memorial

The Berlin Wall Memorial was completed in the summer of 2011, the 50-year anniversary of the building of the wall in 1961. It’s an incredibly well-conceived exhibition and a good spot to gain an overview of what the wall was, how it worked and what it did to the psyche of a people. The stretch of Bernauer Strasse where it is located was one of the places where the border actually ran through the buildings, making for daring escapes into the west through the windows (before they were boarded up). A piece of original wall can still be seen here with a recreated “death strip,” i.e. the no-man’s land area overseen by guards, dogs, flood lights and trip wires.

Many of the most fascinating documents of the time, including a disturbingly cheerful pop song composed for the erection of the wall, are in German, but the black-and-white footage of scenes from that time need no translation, nor does the powerful landscape outside. A rust-colored memorial shows the faces of the men and women who died while trying to escape. They include one of the first victims Peter Fechter, the 18-year-old who was shot in the no man’s land zone and bled to death as western and eastern guards (unable and unwilling, respectively, to act) stood by. The last victim of the wall was killed in August 1989, just a few months before the hated Cold War barrier finally came crashing down.

Indagare members should contact Indagare for an introduction to our favorite guide on the Berlin Wall and its history. One of our tours includes two guides—one who grew up in the East with one who grew up in the West—to give both sides of the history in person.

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Tigers at Berlin Zoo & Aquarium , Berlin, Germany

Berlin Zoo & Aquarium

Thanks to polar bear Knut, the Berlin zoo is now world renowned. It’s a massive place with some 17,000 animals. It’s a lovely place to tour with kids, especially on a sunny day when you can meander to Café am Neuen See, just beyond the ostrich cages. The large indoor aquarium is a lifesaver on a rainy day.

Interior View-Berliner Unterwelten ,Berlin, Germany

Berliner Unterwelten

The rich underground world of Berlin can be explored on the special guided tours (some in English) with this non-profit organization. Each offers a fascinating glimpse into a world normally hidden to the public, making this underground exploration particularly fascinating for hard-to-entertain tweens or teens. You can see bunkers and anti-aircraft fortresses from World War Two, as well as raid shelters, ghost subway stations and escape tunnels from the Cold War. There are several tours to choose from (Dark Worlds, Subways-Bunkers-Cold War, and Breaching the Berlin Wall among the most exciting), and all must be booked well in advance.

Exterior View-Charlottenburg Palace  Berlin, Germany,-Courtesy Visit Berlin

Charlottenburg Palace

For an escape from Berlin’s über-modern present, spend a few hours wandering around Schloss Charlottenburg. Built in the late 1600s by the future King Frederick I as a country retreat for his wife, Sophia Charlotte, the palace is the largest existing one in Berlin. It’s surrounded by lovely gardens, and the restaurant in the orangery is an ideal spot for a cup of coffee or a glass of local beer.

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Exterior View-East Side Gallery ,Berlin, Germany-Courtesy Visit Berlin

East Side Gallery

The largest remaining section of the Berlin Wall, the East Side Gallery runs along the banks of the Spree River for more than a half a mile. It features murals—including one with the Brezhnev/Honecker kiss—by more than 100 international artists. Located near Ostbahnhof.

Ehemalige Jüdische Mädchenschule

The former Jewish Girls’ School in Berlin’s Mitte neighborhood is a must-stop address for art connoisseurs and foodies. Under its roof can be found two of the most respected commercial galleries, the contemporary Eigen + Art and photography-focused Camera Work, as well as the The Kennedys Museum, and three restaurants: delicatessen Mogg and The Kosher Classroom.

The building is a place with a haunted past and current tenants have done a good job of memorializing. Its industrial style architecture (an example of the “New Objectivity” genre) has a warehouse type feel with thick walls, huge plate-glass windows and an imposing brick facade. The history of the space, too, inspires reverence. In 1933 its student body more than doubled after the Fascist Regime’s law of segregation kicked children out of secular schools. Starting in 1938, every day more desks were empty as Jewish families were ripped from their homes and sent to concentration camps. In 1942, the school, along with all Jewish schools in Europe were closed. For the remainder of World War II, the building acted as a military hospital for the Nazi party.

In 1950 the Bavarian writer Bertolt Brecht, a proclaimed communist, reopened the school in the heart of the Soviet-controlled East Berlin. In 1996 the building was abandoned and remained empty until 2009 when the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany ruled that the property be reinstated to the Jewish Community.

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Interior View-Eigen + Art ,Berlin, Germany

Eigen + Art

It seems silly to pick a single gallery out of Berlin’s trove of contemporary art, but Eigen+Art is an important one in the cultural firmament. It’s run by Gerd Harry Lybke, an early proponent of the now-famous Neue Leipziger Schule, the art institution out of which emerged such talents as Neo Rauch and Tim Eitel (both represented by Eigen + Art). The branch on Auguststrasse, near Clärchen’s Ballhaus and the Hackesche Höfe, is always worth stopping by. Besides the established names, Eigen + Art also has some young, emerging artists in its stable. Closed Sunday and Monday.

Interior View-Hamburger Bahnhof ,Berlin, Germany

Hamburger Bahnhof

An important contemporary-art institution in Berlin is the Hamburger Bahnhof. Built in 1845 as a train station, it is now home to a permanent Joseph Beuys exhibition and the Friedrich Christian Flick collection, which the controversial art patron lent the gallery in 2004. It includes masterworks from Sol LeWitt, Robert Ryman, Dan Graham, Sigmar Polke and Gerhard Richter. The museum’s café, overseen by notable chef Sarah Wiener, is one of the city’s insider secrets.

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Interior View-Helmut Newton Foundation ,Berlin, Germany

Helmut Newton Foundation

A few months before his death in 2004, renowned fashion photographer and Berlin native Helmut Newton donated 1,000 of his images to the Helmut Newton Foundation. It’s now a museum that shows his work, in addition to select temporary exhibits.

Painting at Indagare Tour: Behind the Scenes Berlin ,Berlin, Germany

Indagare Tour: Behind the Scenes Berlin

Use the perks of being an Indagare member by setting up a strategic itinerary with our specialists who can offer incredible historic walking tours, art tours of the classic and contemporary scenes (including entrée to some of Germany’s most prominent private art collections), and access to Berlin’s cool culinary and clubbing scenes. They can recommend everything from private venues for parties or top biking guides (and this is a good biking city) or the best activities and guides for kids.

Particularly buzzing East Berlin is not easily navigated; it stretches for miles and is full of surprises. One of our specialist guides will show you its secrets, from underground restaurants to riverside lounges. He is a young expat, who has created lively adventures around food, art and the creative process. One excursion may involve a meal in which each course of a four- to five-course meal is served at a different restaurant; in another you can visit artists in their homes or head out with night owls for club hopping at underground hot spots. It’s an excellent way to tour East Berlin’s trendiest areas.

Contact our Bookings Team for details.

Ambience - The Grand, Berlin, Germany

Indagare Tours: Private Dining Venues

Berlin is big on the hidden, the underground, the cool supper club behind unmarked doors. Indagare members can contact our team for help organizing a special dinner at such venues as Zagreus Projekt, an art space that offers catered dinners alongside culinary-inspired exhibitions; the cozy Münz Salon, an apartment with rooms straight out of Marlene Dietrich times; and The Grand, a former school house has been turned into a cool club, lounge and restaurant whose private dining rooms upstairs can be reserved for larger groups.

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Indagare Tours: Sammlung Boros

A must for contemporary art fans who have already toured the Hamburger Bahnhof, the private Sammlung Boros is housed in a former bunker (which has, of course this being Berlin, also served as a tropical fruit storage and a techno club in recent decades). The massive concrete rooms, which have traces of their former use) serve as the backdrop to Christian Boros’ massive collection, which includes a veritable best-of (Eliasson, Hirst etc.) He owns more than 700 pieces and the space only holds 100, so works are rotated. (Boros and his family live upstairs in a glass apartment on the roof.) The Sammlung can be toured by appointment only and books months in advance. Guests have to take the one-and-a-half-hour guided tour. Indagare members can contact our Bookings Team to arrange a private tour on shorter notice.

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Aerial View-Juedisches Museum (Jewish Museum) ,Berlin, Germany

Juedisches Museum (Jewish Museum)

The largest of its kind in Europe, the Jewish Museum Berlin traces Jewish history from the end of the Roman Empire to the present. Daniel Libeskind designed the striking building and it commands at least as much attention as the exhibits. My tip would be to actually start with the main exhibition upstairs, which is massive and demands some time (the audio tour is a must). Afterwards, go back downstairs and experience Libeskind’s shattering architectural feat.

A lot has been written about his inspiration: some say the zigzagging shape of the building is reminiscent of a deconstructed Star of David; others note that Libeskind derived the building’s geometric form by plotting the addresses of prominent Jews on a map of pre-war Berlin; and parts of his architectural plan were written on composition paper (Libeskind is also a learned musician). However the equation of geometry, engineering and pure genius works out, the building is nothing short of a masterpiece. Constructed around the idea of the paths Germany’s Jews were forced to take in the 20th century, it features three axis: Emigration, Holocaust and Continuation. The one of emigration ends in the moving Garden of Exile; the one of Continuation in the long staircase that leads to the main exhibition; and the one of the Holocaust is a dead-end that terminates in a hollow tower. It’s dark, cold, empty and windowless except for a slit at the very top. After experiencing this Holocaust Tower, the absence of life, which is palpable in its stark forms, I had a hard time concentrating on the packed information of the permanent exhibition. To me, Libeskind managed to express the unspeakable better in absence and void than a million words ever could.

The Jewish Museum is one of the most powerful in the world and should be on anyone’s list in Berlin. After touring, have a break in the beautiful garden. There’s also a good restaurant on the premises.

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Interior View-Käthe Kollwitz Museum ,Berlin, Germany

Käthe Kollwitz Museum

This small museum is dedicated to Käthe Kollwitz, a German painter and sculptor whose powerful oeuvre powerfully addresses poverty and war (she was alive for both world wars, losing her youngest son in the first one and her grandson in the second). Her best-known piece, Mother with Her Dead Son, is one of the most devastating portrayals of the loss of war ever created (it is on view at the Neue Wache in Berlin). This small museum in the Charlottenburg district, in walking distance to the Brandenburger Hof hotel, shows many of Kollwitz’s self-portraits, lithographs and wood prints. A good coffee spot to process the heavy subject matter is the adjacent Literaturhaus Café.

Kicken Berlin

This gallery is owned by renowned dealers Rudolf Kicken and his wife Annette. The focus is on works of the 20th century, particularly the 1920s and 1930s, including German and Czech avant-garde artists like Bauhaus, Man Ray, Moholy-Nagy and Rodchenko. They also carry subjective photography from the 1950s and contemporary fashion photography.

Exterior View - Kunsthaus Dahlem Museum ,  Berlin, Germany

Kunsthaus Dahlem Museum

The Kunsthaus Dahlem museum, opened in summer 2015, exhibits postwar modernist art from East and West Germany. The space was gifted to the sculptor Arno Breker by the Nazi party during World War II, and was later used as artists’ studios until being renovated beginning in 2014. The museum boasts a permanent collection as well as rotating exhibits. Next to the museum is the Sculpture Garden, which displays sculptural works of postwar German artist Bernhard Heilinger, set in a leafy park. Closed Tuesday.

Exterior View-KW Institute of Contemporary Art , Berlin, Germany

KW Institute of Contemporary Art

Located in a former margarine factory, this cultural venue (part exhibition, part event space) is a great spot to get your contemporary art bearings and see a lot of different shows all at once (KW often collaborates with New York’s P.S. 1). Four floors house shows in a variety of mediums, as well as site-specific installations, workshops, film screenings and special performance art. Its location in Auguststrasse makes KW a convenient stop for those exploring the neighborhood’s other galleries, like Eigen + Art, as well as the fun restaurant and shops nearby. It also has an attractive café itself.

Aerial View-Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe,Berlin, Germany

Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe

More than 2,700 concrete slabs filling a space the size of four football fields make up this visually profound and sobering memorial. Designed by architect Peter Eisenman and located at the edge of the Tiergarten, the monument is built on a sloping ground, so as you walk around the differently sized slabs of gray, you may feel slightly seasick, surely a purposeful design choice.

The concrete slabs grow taller, the deeper you penetrate, eventually filtering out sound and sunlight. As you navigate the maze, you occasionally catch sight of other visitors in an eerie game of now-you-see-them, now-you-don’t. It’s as though everyone who enters transforms into ghosts. The monument is particularly moving at sunrise and at dusk, when the light reflects on the smooth gray slabs.

Another interesting place to visit here is the Gay Holocaust Memorial across the street in the Tiergarten. It was unveiled in 2008 and features a continuously looping film of two men kissing projected inside a gray stone slab.

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Enterior VIew-Michael Fuchs ,Berlin, Germany-Photo by Stefan Korte

Michael Fuchs

One of the new galleries in the Jewish Girls’ School complex features the works of German and international artists, including Johannes Albers, Anderas Golder, Gunther Forg, Simon English and Leiko Ikemura.

Interior View-Monsterkabinett ,Berlin, Germany


“Totally Berlin” is how my guide described this whimsical, grungy and fun excursion into an imaginary dreamscape, in a cellar at the end of a graffiti-clad alley. The “monsters” in question are huge mechanical creatures, made by the art cooperative Dead Chickens who are a Berlin institution. The tour only takes about a half hour and leads through a dark labyrinth past the types of fanciful monsters that would look right at home in a Guillermo del Toro movie. At one point visitors are asked to keep a particularly creepy crawler at bay by dancing to loud techno music. By appointment-only, the monster tour offers a slice of the creativity and childlike delight that powers Berlin’s urban art scene.

EXterior View-Museumsinsel (Museum Island)Berlin, Germany

Museumsinsel (Museum Island)

The Museumsinsel (Museum Island) is a not-to-be-missed complex of five world-class museums on an island in the Spree River. Conceived by King Friedrich Wilhelm III in the early 1800s and damaged during World War II, the Museumsinsel was designated a World Heritage Site in 1999. The five museums are the Altes and Neues Museum, the Alte Nationalgalerie, the Pergamon Museum and the Bode Museum. A massive $1.5 billion renovation has already transformed the Museumsinsel into an extraordinary art destination.

The Pergamon is the jewel of the complex, with one-of-a-kind Greek and Babylonian structures, including the famous Pergamon Altar and the Ishtar Gate (unfortunately, the rooms of the Pergamon Altar are closed currently until 2019). The Neues Museum, which was beautifully re-envisioned by architect David Chipperfield, houses the famous Egyptian bust of Queen Nefertiti. The Bode Museum, meanwhile, has a collection of 1,700 sculptures, as well as Coptic art; and the Altes Museum has another stunning antiquities collection. It’s impossible to do all five in one day and even if you narrow it down (most people do the Pergamon and Neues museums on a first visit), it’s best to go with a guide who can put the incredible collections into their historical context.

Indagare members should contact Indagare for an introduction to a great art guiding company.

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Aerial View-Neue Nationalgalerie ,Berlin, Germany

Neue Nationalgalerie

Note: This museum is currently closed for renovations and expected to reopen in 2019.

In a landmark glass cube designed by Mies van der Rohe you’ll find the Neue Nationalgalerie (New National Gallery) and its significant collection of 20th-century European paintings and sculpture, including works by Munch, Picasso, Klee, Dix and Kokoschka.

Aerial View-Pfaueninsel (Peacock Island) ,Berlin, Germany

Pfaueninsel (Peacock Island)

This island nature reserve and UNESCO World Heritage site is one of those incredible Berlin discoveries you would never expect to find near an urban area. Just a forty-minute drive from the center of the city, in the Wannsee district, the island started out as a passion project of Prussian king Frederic William II. On its nearly 200 acres, he built a fanciful castle and introduced a flock of peacocks, while his successor Frederick William III had parts of it landscaped and turned into formal gardens.

Today it’s an incredibly varied natural enclave, parts of it hardly manicured with wild expanses, forests as well as beautiful gardens and fountains. It’s a fabulous place for a day trip, to stroll around and picnic while marveling at the roaming peacocks. Potsdam, with its Sans Souci Palace is just a 15-minute drive from the island.

Aerial View-Reichstag ,Berlin, Germany


The Reichstag—the city’s German Parliament building with Sir Norman Foster’s landmark dome—is a must-see. Here’s the trick to avoiding the sometimes hour-long line: make a reservation for a late breakfast or afternoon tea at the Käfer, its roof-garden restaurant (you enter through the building’s side entrance).

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Interior View-Sammlung Hoffmann,  Berlin, Germany

Sammlung Hoffmann

Lucio Fontana and Frank Stella are among the artists represented at Sammlung Hoffmann, a private contemporary-art collection displayed on two floors of a former factory. Open Saturday by appointment.

Enterior View-See a Performance ,Berlin, Germany

See a Performance

With its wealth of world-renowned orchestras, theater, dance and opera companies, Berlin has a stunningly vibrant performing arts scene. Due to the fact that East and West both had their own dedicated venues, there’s a confusing number of places to see a performance.

There are three opera houses (the most famous and glamorous is the Staatsoper Unter den Linden); seven symphony orchestras, including the renowned Berlin Philharmonic (who perform at the Philharmonie Concert Hall); a wealth of private and public theater companies; and numerous dance companies, including the State Opera Ballet (they perform at the Deutsche Oper). For dance aficionados, it’s also always worth seeing if Sasha Waltz & Friends are performing. The contemporary dance group occasionally does site-specific pieces, like the stunning site-performance they did in 2009 at the then-newly unveiled Neues Museum. Ask your concierge for an updated cultural calendar when you know your travel dates. The city is a cultural hot spot and the most coveted performances book weeks in advance.

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Aerial View - Tempelhof Freiheit,Berlin, Germany

Tempelhof Freiheit

One of the most significant examples of Nazi architecture is the massive Tempelhof airport built on the edge of Berlin in the 1930s. After World War II, it was also the site of the Berlin Air Lift drops. The airport was closed in 2008, and today, it is being transformed into a giant park and recreation site for city residents. You can rent Segways, bicycles, electric bikes, scooters, skateboards and even mini cars for kids to explore the more than six kilometers of former runaways that now encircle fields. On warm days, locals fly kites and parasails and come for picnics and jogging. In addition to being home to some old abandoned planes, the area now contains a mini-golf course, a beer garden, a public barbecue zone and a series of community vegetable gardens that are eccentrically decorated in typical Berlin fashion; one uses boots as pots and another has a musical theme.


Indagare employees walking up stiars

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