They have rebuilt the past in Berlin.

On my third visit to Berlin, a clear thought came to my mind, something like “they have rebuilt the past”. There are many ways to see it while visiting the city, but I will focus on the place called Museum Island. The most well-known museum of that museum complex is likely to be the Pergamon Museum.

In my humble opinion, Berlin is widely loved by people who like to explore and discover. A typical traveller-tourist might prefer more romantic European cities such as Paris or Rome. But for anyone who wants to feel the emotion and such a straightforward view toward history, visiting Berlin is a great idea.

It was bombed, divided, united again, made capital of one of the world’s most powerful countries again. They made it the centre of a country, but it required a lot of work.

My recent visit to Berlin was quite short. For the blog, I decided to focus on the Museum Island (in German: Museumsinsel).

Pergamon Museum Berlin

So what is the Museum Insel?

It’s literally an island on the river Spree, in Berlin, Germany. That small island once was home to the Imperial Palaces, from the era of Prussian Empire to the age of the united German Empire.

The latter era, when the German Emperors showed a lot of passion for antiquities, remains famous for German archaeological excavations throughout the Middle East. To display the results of these extensive works, German Emperors decided to build an entire complex of museums next to their palace on that island.

That in turn, the island got the name Museuminsel (Museum Island).

The old new Palace

Berlin was hugely destroyed in the Second World War, and most of the historical buildings were never rebuilt with their former glory. The Museum Island was also damaged, but the heritage and museum collections were saved the way they could. Right now, there are some substantial reconstruction works in the area.

I said they saved the heritage the way they could, and there was something they couldn’t keep. It was the Imperial Palace, the Schloss. The ruined building was entirely erased by the new Communist regime, and they built a new government building in that place. However, that building was demolished shortly after the German reunification, giving space to a big parking area.

Since becoming the capital again, Berlin started regaining the former glory and subsequently shifted into one of the most innovative and creative cities in Europe. The core of that process is the complete reconstruction of the former Imperial Palace.

The new Humboldt Forum will be a crown of the Museum Island. It will present a global, inclusive approach to the history of art, somewhat getting rid of the common Eurocentric view on fine arts. The new museum is scheduled to open by the end of this year.

Humboldt Forum Berlin
No, this is not a historical building. This is a new museum, and will be opened by the end of 2019.

I will say more about it in the second episode of this Museum Island trilogy, so stay tuned for tomorrow.

Some idea about the ancient cities

There is a lot to say about the Antiquity, but very little to show. The Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Greek, Roman civilisations all disappeared too long ago, and most of what we can see today is in separated artefacts and a few isolated stones.

Visiting an archaeological site is fun.

Pergamon Museum Berlin

But it’s even more fun to visit something rebuilt, right?

Again, we are on the topic of rebuilding. Berlin is not only a rebuilt city that grew from ashes. The city of Berlin has a long history of reconstructing the past. The particular 19th-century archaeological excavations I mentioned included extensive works in re-creating the ancient cities, and the Pergamon Museum is the place to see them. The Museum is named after the Pergamon altar from the ancient city of Ephesus.

Currently, it’s not possible to see the main attraction of that museum, because the whole building is under extensive restoration works. Nevertheless, it’s still possible to visit the museum, spend a few hours inside, enjoying the reconstructed image of the ancient Greek city of Milet (today Turkey) and Babilon.

But how do they do it, is it possible to have all the original stones?

Obviously not. These archaeologists figured out where the particular original stones were supposed to be on the original building and fulfilled the missing stones (or bricks!) with modern pieces.

Simple as that.

Why to visit the Pergamon Museum?

If you have a few hours of spare time when visiting Berlin, I highly recommend you a visit. Here are the reasons:

  1. It’s truly fun, for all generations.
  2. It educates about important issues as well, there was a temporary exhibition about Syria when I visited it.
  3. The whole Museum Insel is a very accessible area, close to most of the other attractions

The entrance ticket costs 19 euros, but there is trick. There is a Museum Island day ticket, and it costs 18 euros, and you can buy it any of the other Museum Island Museums. In my next two posts, I will say about other two museums of the island, so stay tuned!

More information about visits

See also: How to get the most of your visits to museums?

1 thought on “They have rebuilt the past in Berlin.

  1. Berlin is so wonderful, there’s always something new to do. I haven’t been to the Pergamon even though I’ve visited Berlin many times. Last time we went to the DDR museum. Thanks for an interesting post!

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