24 hour Berlin: Kartoffelpuffer and Cheesecake to Graffiti and Opera

‘Nobody had forgotten anything here. In Berlin, you had to wrestle with the past, you had to build on the ruins, inside them. It wasn’t like America where we scraped the earth clean, thinking we could start again every time. ‘ ― Janet Fitch, White Oleander

Time inevitably shakes hands with Disappointment as Beauty and Pleasure fade downcast and disheartened into the background – this could well be a simple philosophical visual musing on the vicissitudes of life, yet as the silky operatic sounds of mezzo-soprano voices and deep tenor tones weave together into the air it could just as well be an on-stage embodiment of human existence by opera singers in the throes of theatrical passion.  The Berlin State Opera performs the Italian oratorio Il trionfo del tempo e del disinganno to an enraptured multitude, meanwhile an outdoor theatre company is reenacting Shakespeare in German in the shadows of Frederick III’s Bode Museum on the famed museum island and the eve is just commencing for techno dancers and electro lovers of the darkness migrating towards the throbbing power station come nightclub that is Berghain.

From housing Frederick III in the illustrious golden walls of Sanssouci palace and providing a performing platform for Marlene Dietrich as she sings her self famous with Marlene singt Berlin, to hearing the scientific lectures of fairy tale collectors (the Brothers Grimm) and helplessly observing the fatal heart attack of an exquisite playwright known by the name of Brecht – much has Berlin silently witnessed throughout its bumpy existence and each new year it boasts its kaleidoscopic history of oppression, war, antisemitism, communism, theatre, art, cinema, street graffiti and electro to its visitors old and new.

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 ‘Whereas the slums in Hamburg are the slums of its sailors, Berlin is a big slum.’ ― Kathy Acker, Eurydice in the Underworld

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A neoclassical artistic masterpiece,  a blazing emblem of nationalism, a symbol of Prussian triumph, a reminder of Nazi propaganda, a sign of a divided nation, or a mere tourist landmark? The Brandburg Gate – commissioned by King Frederick William II of Prussia in the name of peace and victory – is a town gate that has changed and evolved as the cultural identity of the city in which it resides has developed.

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The fate of a city lies beneath a glassy sheath- the Reichstag proudly remains Berlin’s central hub of political activity.

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‘The railway was part scalpel, part movie camera, slicing the city open, parading its inner workings at fifty frames per second. It was on the S-Bahn that she felt least abandoned, as if the act of travelling turned back the clock, and brought her nearer to the future she had lost.’ ― Philip SingtonThe Einstein Girl

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‘Only the night must never cease, Only the day must never be’ -Berlin State Opera savours the theatrical mysteries of Berlin after sunset

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13 thoughts on “24 hour Berlin: Kartoffelpuffer and Cheesecake to Graffiti and Opera

  1. Hi. Great images, both visual and from the written word. You have managed to pull together many diverse elements to create a personal vision of the city, one that I now long to see for myself. Cheers, Nelson

  2. I love the scheme of photos in the post. They look like different slices of life in Berlin. This post show a multidimensional view about social, cultural issues. Thanks for sharing it with us 🙂

  3. I returned to England yesterday, and since landing I have needed to feel as though I am still there in Friedrichshain or Mitte. Looking at your photos has helped, thank you.

  4. Berlin sure is a major hub in European (and of course German) history – for better and worse. It’s such a conglomerate of ideas, trends and expressiveness. I have yet to visit the German capital, but I hope soon to get a chance. Great post!

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