Winter Wonder World for Children and Children at Heart

If you visit the Europa Center in Berlin's Mitte close to the Gedächtniskirche, you will find yourself in a wonderful winter scenery – surrounded by happy mice and tasy looking chunks of cheese.

This is a must for everyone with small kids, for children at heart and for really giant cats with a healthy appetite for oversized rodents!


Gendarmenmarkt – Festival of Lights 2010

Gendarmenmarkt Berlin with Concert House and French Cathedral
During the Festival of Lights 2010 I took a few photos from the Gendarmenmarkt, my favortite hang out in Berlin.
German Cathedral
I spent many delightful evenings here, listening to the enchanting music wafting across the square. There is always some musician playing the violin, the cello or a brass instrument and it is wonderful to have picnic on a balmy summer night under the roof of the German Cathedral overlooking this most beautiful square, watching tourists marvel at the classic architcture.

Detail German Cathedral
Detail German Cathedral

Three monumental buildings dominate Gendarmenmarkt:
The most recent building is the Concert House (Konzerthaus) built by Karl Friedrich Schinkel in 1821 as a theater based on the ruins of the National Theater fallen prey to fire in 1817. Some columns and exterior walls are remnants of the former theater.
Concert House Gendarmenmarkt built by the famous architect Schinkel
The Concert House forms the center of the German Cathedral (Deutscher Dom) in the south and the French Cathedral (Französischer Dom) in the north. See map

The French Cathedral (officially French Church of Friedrichstadt) was built between 1701 and 1705 for the Huguenot (Calvinist) community - who then constituted about 25% of Berlin's population.
French Cathedral (Französische Friedrichstadtkirche)
Originally modeled after the Huguenot church in Charenton-Saint-Maurice in France, the tower and porticos were only added to the building in 1785 by Carl von Gontard.
Church of Charenton-Saint-Maurice
The distinction of the two cathedrals always presented a challenge to me until I learned that the French Cathedral is the one with the restaurant. Furthermore, it also has a viewing platform and the Huguenot museum is seated there.

Like the other buildings on the Gendarmenmarkt, the cathedral was heavily damaged in World War II and rebuilt during the years 1977 to 1981.

The German Cathedral (officially „New Church“) was built from 1701 to 1708 by Giovanni Simonetti after designs by Martin Grünberg and modified accordingly (domed tower) during the years 1780 to 1785 after a desing by Carl von Gontard.
Dome of German Cathedral

The church was destroyed in 1943 during World War II and rebuilt from 1977 to1988.
Both churches are not „cathedrals“ in the actual sense of the word (Greek kathedra, meaning: seat, bench) as no bishop has ever been seated there.

In the center of the square stands a statue of the famous German poet Friedrich Schiller (1759-1805). This great 18th century poet was (together with Johann Wolfgang von Goethe) a proponent of the literary movement „Sturm und Drang“ (Storm and Urge/Sturm and Stress) which encouraged the extreme expression of emotions.
Statue of famous German poet Friedrich Schiller 
The square itself originates from 1688 and was built after a design of Johann Arnold Nering as part of the „Friedrichstadt“ structured by the Prince-Elector Friedrich III who later became known as King Friedrich I of Prussia.
Originally designed as a market square and named Linden-Markt then Mittelmarkt or Friedrichstädtischer Markt and later Neuer Markt, today's name Gendarmenmarkt is derived from the Regiment Gens d'armes (Man-at-Arms) of the Soldier King Friedrich I who had their stables here from 1736 to 1773.

Concert House in different colors during the Festival of Lights 2010
Detail Concert House
Detail Concert House
Gendarmenmarkt around 1900
Gendarmenmarkt 1903


Sundown over Berlin – View from the Daimler-Chrysler Building

Skyrocket to dizzying heights with Europe's fastest elevator. Soar up to the top of the Daimler-Chrysler building at Potsdamer Platz with a maximum speed of 8.4 meter per second to enjoy the really great view from the platform in 93 meters height. Concerning the fastest elevator ever ridden in Europe, there is a catch, though. Isn't there always a catch? ;)
Due to acceleration and deceleration, this fancy machine needs 20 seconds to reach the platform. Now, this is not as fast as the elevator in Berlin's TV tower "Alex" (needs 40 seconds for 203 meters!), but it is fun anyhow and the platform has no glass barrier, so you can breathe fresh air!


Beautiful Chinese New Year's Lanterns

If you read my recent entries, you probably have already guessed where these photos were taken: In the Ethnological Museum – of course. I'm not through yet!

The little guys you see on the pics are in fact New Year's Lanterns! Who would've thought that?


Berlin's Ethnological Museum exhibits: Cool Coffin from Ghana

If this doesn't make death look brighter for a model car fan, I don't know what will ...

Do not despair if you are a chef or something: You can order a chilli coffin or a gigantic chicken coffin, or if you are a pilot, get buried in a model plane.

Don't miss this video on youtube: Coffin maker in Ghana

Haitian Voodoo in Berlin

So, you can't stand the heat and are desperate for some place to cool down?

Visit the Haitian Vodou exhibition in the ethnological museum at Berlin-Dahlem! It's nice and cool, but you have to bring your own pins and needles.

Apparently the whole sticking-needles-into-dolls-thingy to harm your enemies is nothing but a big fat myth initially told by an American fiction writer and later spread all over the world through Hollywood industry.
Isn't that a shame!

After the discovery of the island of Hispaniola by Columbus in 1492 (where nowadays the states Haiti and the Dominican Republic are situated)  and the subsequent annihilation of the natives within the very short period of 25 years, the western third of the island became a French colony in 1697.

To sustain the forestry and sugar-related industries, slaves were imported to Haiti from Western and Central Africa. They brought their deities with them, but were not allowed to practice their cult. Over time, this fact led to the blending of traditional beliefs with Roman Catholic liturgy.

One century later Haiti's nearly half million slaves revolted and independence was declared in 1804.

Voodoo (also: Vaudou, Vodoun, Vodou etc.) designates the sacred, the power coming from the invisible world to influence the here and now. I found it translated as "spirit" or "god".

The current exhibition in Berlin shows about 350 objects from a private collection.

List of Caribbean gods