Useful hints and tips for travelers in Germany
A first trip to a major capital city should always include a visit to the monument that offers a panoramic view: in Paris it’s a trip up the Eiffel Tower, in Berlin it’s a walk around the Fernsehturm and in London it’s a queue in the line for London Eye Tickets.
These monuments serve as a symbol for the cities they’re in, a unique spike on the skyline, and, for visitors, a chance to see the city from above. But how does Germany’s space needle compare to London’s giant Ferris Wheel?
Frankfurt is the only city in Germany with skyscrapers, and this becomes painfully obvious when checking out Berlin’s skyline from the Fernsehturm. In all directions, one see’s a mostly flat landscape of six-story buildings with nondescript rooftops. On a foggy day, the city is decidedly lacking in character when viewed from above.
London, on the other hand has the towers and diversity of architecture you expect from a the cradle of a former empire and a modern financial capital. From the ‘Gherkin’ at 30 Mary St Axe, through Big Ben, to the Tower Bridge, London has a much more varied and interesting skyline. Plus, the fact that the eye is a Ferris wheel, means that you get a moving view of the city, from multiple angles.
The London Eye boasts nothing of a history by global monument standards – construction started in 1998 and was inaugurated at the turn of the millennium. Time still needs to test it some more.
The Fernsehturm, on the other hand, has a much more interesting role in Berlin’s modern history. It was built by the former GDR government, with construction completing in 1969 when East-West tensions made Berlin a focal point of the Cold War.
It was initially built as a symbol of the GDR’s strength and located so as to obscure views of the West’s parliament building, the Reichstag. However, to the embarrassment of the GDR, the metallic dome which holds the viewing platform reflects sunlight in a distinct cross, not unlike the crucifix – a phenomenon that has been nicknamed ‘The Pope’s Revenge’.
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