Our last stop on our European tour was Berlin, Germany. Germany has always been a country that I have wanted to visit. Many of my ancestors come from Germany. Not only that, but throughout my study of history Germany has always been a country that has shown up frequently, and after being in Berlin it’s easy to see why. There is history engrained everywhere into the city, just like every other city we visited in our tour across Europe. However, there was something different about the way history could be found in Berlin. In London and Paris the historical sites were more noticeable. It was easy to see the difference between the historical buildings and sites in these cities. The pieces of history found throughout Berlin were more embedded.
One of the most unexpected places where historical significance can be found is in the crosswalk lights. It’s a little man in a hat, referred to as ampelmann. He was originally from East Berlin back when the city was divided in two by the Berlin Wall. When the wall came down West Berlin also decided to adopt ampelmann as their crosswalk lights. Ampelmann has grown into such a phenomenon that stores can be found throughout the city selling ampelmann merchandise. It’s a simple reference to Berlin’s history but it is everywhere in the city and serves as a good reminder of the combining of East and West Berlin.
Another place where history is engrained into the city of Berlin is in the graffiti and street art the visitors and locals alike can see everyday when walking around. This first most obvious place where street art and graffiti can be found is on the Berlin Wall. Throughout our time in Berlin we saw several different sections of the Berlin Wall. The first was one of the largest pieces of the wall that was still standing. Located in front of the Topography of Terror Museum. There were large amounts of graffiti on this piece of the wall but one of the most prominent declared “Save our Planet.” The Berlin Wall is obviously a significant part of the city’s history but the art and the graffiti found on it shows how popular culture can be combined with places of historical significance.
Berlin is a city that doesn’t try and draw attention to its history. Instead, it integrates the history and makes sure to integrate it into the modern scene. This is why I loved stopping here. It didn’t take very long to begin exploring the rich history of Berlin.