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I was shocked and saddened to hear the news of the terror attack in Berlin just 5 days ago. Not only is Berlin one of my favourite cities, Germany is one of my favourite travel destinations that I would willingly visit over and over again, especially at Christmas time when it transforms into a magical wonderland full of chestnuts roasting, choirs singing, silver bells ringing, and if you’re lucky, snowflakes gently falling.
Indeed, so magical was my experience of the German Christmas markets 11 years ago, I was determined to return with some of my best friends in tow, because, you know, sharing is caring. And, I won’t lie, because over the years I had acquired a bigger, better camera and improved photography skills to go with it.
Not only did it meet expectations, I dare say my 2nd visit was even better than the 1st!
The 2nd trip took place 2 years ago, and in fact, we were at the very spot that suffered the aforementioned terror attack 2 years and 3 days before the tragic event occurred.
The Gedachtniskirche (also known as the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church) was badly damaged during a bombing raid in 1943, but has been preserved as is as a memorial, with a modern church built around the remains of the old church. This juxtaposition of old and new is not only hauntingly beautiful, but serves as a stark reminder of a bitter past. How tragic that terror should befall this place again, at a time when we should be celebrating peace and love and joy.
I hope that the recent events do not put you off visiting this amazing city and country steeped in history and culture yet at the same time also at the forefront of innovation.
For this reason, and because I have once again left it too late to write a series of posts with my top tips about how to visit the German Christmas markets, I thought I would whet your appetites with a selection of some of my favourite photos from Berlin during the Christmas season.
There are so many things to see and do in Berlin that, despite spending 3 days there the first time, I was able to explore new areas the 2nd time, and still left with places on the list for next time.
Of course,some sights so capture the essence of Berlin that they have to be revisited. My 2nd visit began, just as it did 9 years before that, at the Berlin Dom.
I was just as tickled the 2nd time by the ubiquitousness of Berlin’s mascot.
Although I knew what to expect the 2nd time, I felt equally suffocated by gloom and despair at the Holocaust Memorial, easily the most powerful memorial site I’ve ever been to.
My favourite market was still the Gendarmenmarkt sandwiched between the Concert Hall and the French and Italian Churches.
So beautiful is this market it’s just as eye-catching in pictorial form.
I snapped a virtually identical photo at the Brandenburg Gate.
And couldn’t resist the opportunity to walk round and round the dome of the Reichstag again.
The difference was that we visited first thing in the morning this time, instead of last thing at night, and were able to enjoy the views of Berlin from the rooftop.
I also ventured a little further afield this time to the Charlottenburg Palace, where we were treated to a lighting display projected onto the facade of the palace building.
At the same time, we were serenaded by carolers and musicians.
Dinner was found just a short stroll beyond the palace gates.
I also enjoyed discovering the rather quaint area between Spittelmarkt, Alexanderplatz and Scheunenviertel.
As you can see, there’s plenty to keep you entertained in Berlin whether you’re a kid at heart.
Whether you’re looking for history and grandeur.
Or whether, like me, you enjoy a little bit of everything mixed in.
If you haven’t been to Berlin or Germany yet, I really hope it’s on your list and that you get to it at some point in your life!
For now, though, I want to wish you all a happy Christmas. Whether you’re spending it overseas or at home, I hope that your loved ones are near and that you’re surrounded by laughter and joy, remembering that this is the reason that we’re celebrating:
That God so loved the world that He sent His only Son Jesus to redeem and restore each and every one of us!
Thanks to my travel buddy L for many of the amazing photos snapped throughout this trip, some of which feature in this post.
Have you been to Germany and Berlin at Christmas time? Do you love it as much as I do? What are your top recommendations for my 3rd visit to Germany and/or Berlin?
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