International Programmes Travel

Lines in Berlin

This post was originally published on James Hii’s blog, and has been edited with permission.

After putting down our luggage in Munich (with an awesome friend), Rachel and I headed straight for Berlin (well, it was the next day). I must say I thoroughly enjoyed myself in Berlin. It’s a beautiful city with so much heritage and history embedded in it. What you see above is perhaps one of the most famous icons of Berlin, the Brandenburg Gate.

You can look up the history of the gate online (or go  to Berlin and take a Sanderman’s walking tour, they’re awesome!), but the one story I couldn’t really find was that of the statue. Apparently, the quadriga on top of the gate was stolen by the French when Napoleon invaded Berlin. At that time, the quadriga had an olive wreath, and represented peace. When Napoleon fell, the quadriga was returned and her wreath supplemented with an iron cross; it now signifies victory! Even more curious: if you follow her gaze, lady Victory seems to be staring straight in the general direction of – you guessed it – the French embassy at Pariser Platz. Don’t mess with the Germans’ statues!

Here are more photos of Berlin:

My favourite places in Berlin so far is the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.

On the ground level, you see literally a sea of concrete blocks that quickly tower over you as you walk into the memorial. The architect of this memorial deliberately omitted any explanation for this piece of work, perhaps in the hope that it would become a place that transcends the pain and suffering it is meant to remember; and that is indeed the case with families coming here for picnics, children (and oversized children) playing hide and seek. The place felt very quiet, holding a dark past, and yet alive with the people who wander there, some even oblivious to the significance of the memorial (or that it even is a memorial). It’s definitely a place I’d love to go back to just to hang out, but it’s hard to explain why.

I’ll leave you with one last photo – of a church. It’s a church that wasn’t far from where the Berlin wall used to stand.

This church was bombed during WW2 but the bomb didn’t detonate and if you know where to look, you can still see the bomb shell lying in the basement of the church! I loved the lines in this church, and realized that a lot of my photographs from Berlin had very strong lines; hence the title: lines in Berlin!

James Hii (Engineering Science + USP, Year 4) was on his student exchange programme at the Technical University of Munich.

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