Berlin can feel like the exception among Europe’s capitals. While Rome, London and Paris emerged as important cities under the Roman Empire, Berlin wasn’t established until the thirteenth century and only became a significant commercial center in the nineteenth. During the century and a half that it has been on the world stage, its history is almost unbelievable. This was a city that was synonymous with the glittering excesses of the Weimar Republic and then served as the capital of the Nazi regime. For 45 years, it was divided by an infamous wall, with half its citizens living in communist East Germany while West Berlin was an island of capitalist and western values located behind the Iron Curtain.
In 1990, Berlin resumed its role as the capital of a unified Germany. For the visitor today it’s an intriguing, vibrant city. While devastated by bombings in World War II, its museums are still filled with cultural treasures. Thoughtful memorials and museums acknowledged the darker moments of its history, though it is the city’s restaurants, bars, boutiques and galleries that tend to impress most visitors. Berlin enthusiastically embraces its artists and entrepreneurs, creating an exciting atmosphere of possibility.