Blog

775 years of Berlin

775 years of Berlin

This weekend in Berlin saw the last days of the festival of lights, as well as the last glorious days of Indian summer. All the usual weekend traditions were in place. People were sitting outdoors having brunch in the almost 20 degree weather for one last time. I had a leisurely stroll through the organic market on Kollwitz Platz. In the evening on Saturday the streets were packed on Unter den Linden as crowds of Berliners and tourists alike took advantage of the penultimate night of Berlin’s most historic monuments illuminated with a beautiful display of lighting. Weekends in Berlin are always something special but this one seemed especially memorable as people flocked to the streets for one last bask in the almost summer like weather. This could especially be seen on Sunday with the masses of people at the flea market and outdoor Bearpit Karaoke at Mauerpark. Although no one is looking forward to the long grey months of winter ahead there is one more reason to rejoice coming up in one week. Next Sunday on the 28th of October the entire city of Berlin will celebrate the 775th birthday of the sister city of Berlin, Colln.

Although there were settlements in the area around what is now Museum Island and the Nikolai Quarter at least a hundred years earlier, the first mention we have of the city comes from a church document dating back to 1237. In 1307 the two cities came together and formed the city of Berlin. This will be the third times the city celebrates its founding. First in 1937 the Nazi celebrated the 700th anniversary of Berlin and then in 1987 the then still divided city celebrated its 750th birthday. All around the historic heart of Berlin info booths have been set up and labeled “Traces of the middle ages” (Spuren des Mittelalters). Directly across from the Berliner Dome on Schlossplatz (Palace Square) since August a map of Berlin has been created with 7 meter high multicolored pins sticking out of the ground marking the path of migration of various immigrant groups who have come through the city over the centuries. The best is yet to come however as the real celebration is on Sunday the 28th. In the best Berlin tradition the whole area will turn into a huge street party .

They have planned breathtaking fire shows including live music as well as the German theater group Titanick scheduled to put on an elaborate performance. Berlin is already a unique city in that drinking in public is allowed and next weekend is sure to be a cacophony of culture delights and boisterous merry making. In the words of Tom Mueller in the Smithsonian, Berlin is “a city still finding its identity and is a place of almost impossible contradictions: fixated with the past yet still impatiently pursuing the future, impoverished yet artistically rich, a former capital of dictatorship and repression that has become a homeland of social freedom.” On Sunday the 28th Berlin will celebrate all her many facets. I hope to see you there.