22 November 2009
Berlin is a city of surprises to savour, full of delights to discover. Sadly, this was an ‘all work and no play’ trip. Even so, I am struck by two things.
First, the sense of renewal. Because so much new building and deliberate investment in regeneration took place after the fall of the wall, the city has an ultra-modern façade. Glass architecture proliferates, giving an impression of light and space.
This is reinforced by the actual existence of space. Apparently, as Berlinwas essentially an island city, with little opportunity to travel beyond its borders, its citizens treasured the open natural spaces all the more. As a result, post-unification, these open spaces have been vehemently protected.
The second impression is of the avant garde. Graffiti covers much of the city, but has apparently been embraced as art. (Another theory is that the city is bankrupt and can’t afford to clean it up). Besides the graffiti, the city is liberally sprinkled with sculptures, museums and theatres. It’s almost as if the years of oppression and suppression have seeded its opposite – the darkness and claustrophobic replaced by light and space; the rules and restrictions exchanged for artistic freedom and expression.
These may be superficial impressions and unfounded insights, but if nothing else, they have whet my appetite to return and explore more thoroughly.