Berlin is the capital city of Germany and one of the 16 constituent states (Lnder) of the Federal Republic of Germany. Berlin is the largest city in Germany and has a population of approximately 4.2 million within its metropolitan area (3.4 million people within the city limits). It is best known for its historical associations as the German capital, for its lively nightlife, for its many cafes, clubs, and bars, and for its numerous museums, palaces, and other sites of historic interest. Contrary to popular belief, Berlin is also home to many modern, upscale shopping areas filled with department stores and small boutiques that offer the latest in European trends and fashion.
Berlin's architecture is quite varied. Although badly damaged in the final years of World War II and broken apart during the Cold War, Berlin has reconstructed itself greatly, especially with the reunification push after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. It is now possible to see representatives of many different historic periods in a short time within the city center, from a few surviving medieval buildings near Alexanderplatz, to the ultramodern glass and steel structures in Potsdamer Platz. Because of its tumultuous history, Berlin remains a city with many distinctive neighborhoods.
It is now possible to see representatives of many different historic periods in a short time within the compact city center, from a few surviving medieval buildings near Alexanderplatz, to the ultramodern glass and steel structures at Potsdamer Platz.
In addition, there is no city in Europe that parties harder than Berlin; the nightlife of most cities is tame in comparison. There are lots of great clubs and dance parlors. You only need to ask around to find the most popular hotspots in town. Most of the usual good places to go are in the center of Berlin (Mitte, Prenzlauer Berg, Kreuzberg), but the eastern part of the city has all the nightlife. Berlin has also played host to the "Love Parade," an outdoor rave that attracts millions of people from around the world who dance to rhythmic techno and electronic music and crowd the streets at night.
Berlin is also perhaps one of the greenest cities in Europe: over 60% of its surface area is either a park or a river... it has even more bridges than Venice!
Berlin has an amazing number of sights, although it is not as centralized or small as other European cities. Sometimes the best things about it have nothing to do with landmarks: simply strolling along one of hundreds of charming streets complete with caf's or sipping a "Berliner Weisse mit Schuss (shot of either raspberry juice or other)" at a beach bar along one of the city's many rivers can be pleasurable enough. The Berliners you'll meet will often be friendly and extremely helpful, although you may also encounter the famous "Berliner Schnauze," a certain brusqueness that can seem rude.