The Photographer guide

10 Architecture Gems to bike and photograph on your next trip to Berlin.

Since the destruction of Berlin during the Second World War and the fall of the wall in the 90's, the German capital reinvented it self creating a collection of amazing architecture gems and renovated some of its classic palaces and buildings. Since then the city became a magneto for architecure lovers and photographers who aim to see and capture some of the 20th century best building designs. Due to the big size of Berlin the best way to see this icons is by bike.

I have put together a list of the best 10 places to see and photograph on your next bike trip around Berlin starting in Alexanderplatz, the quintessential building of East German architecture where you will find different options to rent a bike for a couple of hours. 

Built between 1965 and 1969 by the government of the GDR, Alexanderplatz and its TV Tower was intended as a symbol of the communist power, today the tower stands as an icon of Berlin. With 368 meters (including the antenna) the TV Tower is the tallest building in the European Union and it’s sightseeing  point is visited by millions of tourist all year long. Alexanderplatz is surrounded by dozens of buildings made in the fashionable Russian socialist architecture and you can even find a couple of them designed in the classic Bauhaus style.

Take your bike from here and ride along the Spree River until you reach the Dutch Embassy. Winner of the Mies van de Rohe Award of European Architecture the Embassy was designed by the Dutch Rem Koolhaas. The embassy, a solitary building integrating modern design, stands against the traditional former west city planning guidelines in the 19th Century fashion. Diagonals and individual cubes  stand out of the building creating a ventilation concept to integrate more functions into one element, breaking the area regulations this way but respecting them at the same time.

From here you will follow the river from former East Berlin to the West and after a short ride you will reach the Jewish Museum. Famous for its jagged angles and oblique lines, the museum designed by Daniel Libeskind tells the fatal history of the Jewish community in Germany and the torn apart of the society by the atrocities of the war. Once you have finished taking photos of the diagonal cuts and brutal corners of the building, continue your ride until Potsdamer Platz.

In the late 20’s Potsdamer was the center of Berlin, a place for shopping, casinos and the famous Weimar Republic Jazz and Cabaret parties that helped the citizens to find peace after the war. After the destruction of Berlin and because of the wall Potsdamer Platz fell into oblivion. Today thanks to renowned architects like Renzo Piano the historic square has become the shopping center of Berlin, full of flagships stores, restaurants and cinemas; but most of all a collection of architectural gems and skyscrapers like the Desutshce Bahn Building or the Sony Center. A must see when in Berlin.

Close from there you will find three of the most spectacular cultural monuments in the city: the Berlin Philarmony, the National Library and the New National Gallery. The first two, designed by Hans Scharoun in the 60s, were the response of the West to the lack of culture on that side of Berlin when the East German government built the wall. The gold light and fresh design has been an example of iconic architecture for decades. A style we saw years later in the 90s and 2000s in other corners of the world.The third one (the New National Gallery) of 1968 is a symmetrical, elegant and perfect late work of the famous German-American architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. The building (which was first created for the Cuban Rum brand Bacardi) holds today a collection of modern and contemporary art under a steel and glass clean structure.

By now you must feel tired and it is time for a break. Bike towards the Bauhaus Archive, the iconic building created by Walter Gropius one of the members of the Bauhaus school, and sit and relax in the modern coffee of the building. Here you can enjoy an excellent apple strudel and buy some souvenirs and house decorations in the shop of the Archive Museum, a collection of the most influential designs of the 20th Century.

It’s time to go back on the road, bike north and after passing the Victory Column turn back to the East and reach the Pariser Platz, the location of the famous Brandenburg Gate but also for the DZ bank designed by Frank Gehry. The Berlin branch of this bank is one of the most interesting buildings of Gehr. Thanks to strict regulations to structures built in the center of Berlin it was impossible for the architect to create a sculptural design as seen in the Guggenheim Museum. The solution was easy: to create inside. You will need to take a peek through the entrance doors to get an idea of the wonders within, behind the facade a whale-like glass atrium roof can clearly be seen from the main lobby, without doubt this is the central attraction for the visitors of the bank offices.

You are almost done by now, so if you have the stamina, jump back on your bike and ride trough the Tiergarten Park towards the Reichstag. Here you can take photos of  the concrete and crystal glass Chancellor and Government buildings, but please focus your attention on the superb German Parliament (rebuilt in the 90's after its destruction during the war) following the designs of Norman Foster. Don’t forget to visit the crystal dome (you will need to book your free visit online some weeks before) where you can catch a 360 degrees glimpse of the city to finish your bike architectural tour.

*If you wish to take this tour guided by me just follow this link.

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Tags: Antonio Castello, Architecture Photography, tour, english tour spanish tour, tours en español, bike tour, bicicleta tour, Berlin, bike berlin.

Dutch Embassy in Berlin

The Jewish Museum

The Jewish Museum

State Library of Berlin

Berlin Philharmonic

Frank Gehry's DZ Bank

Reichstag Building ny Norman Foster

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