This article is about the capital of Germany. For other uses, see Berlin (disambiguation).
State of Germany
From top: Skyline including the TV Tower,
Brandenburg Gate, Berlin Film Festival,
East Side Gallery (Berlin Wall), Alte Nationalgalerie,
Reichstag building (Bundestag)


Coat of arms

Location within European Union and Germany
Coordinates: 52°31′N 13°23′E / 52.517°N 13.383°ECoordinates: 52°31′N 13°23′E / 52.517°N 13.383°E
Country Germany
  Governing Mayor Michael Müller (SPD)
  Governing parties SPD / CDU
  Votes in Bundesrat 4 (of 69)
  City 891.85 km2 (344.35 sq mi)
Elevation 34 m (112 ft)
Population (December 2014)[1]
  City 3,562,166
  Density 4,000/km2 (10,000/sq mi)
Demonym Berliner
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
  Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postal code(s) 10115–14199
Area code(s) 030
ISO 3166 code DE-BE
Vehicle registration B[2]
GDP/ Nominal €109.2 billion (2013) [3]
NUTS Region DE3

Berlin (/bərˈlɪn/, German: [bɛɐ̯ˈliːn]) is the capital of Germany, and one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.5 million people,[4] Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union.[5] Located in northeastern Germany on the banks of River Spree, it is the center of the Berlin-Brandenburg Metropolitan Region, which has about 6 million residents from over 180 nations.[6][7][8][9] Due to its location in the European Plain, Berlin is influenced by a temperate seasonal climate. Around one third of the city's area is composed of forests, parks, gardens, rivers and lakes.[10]

First documented in the 13th century, Berlin became the capital of the Margraviate of Brandenburg (1417-1701), the Kingdom of Prussia (1701–1918), the German Empire (1871–1918), the Weimar Republic (1919–1933) and the Third Reich (1933–1945).[11] Berlin in the 1920s was the third largest municipality in the world.[12] After World War II, the city was divided; East Berlin became the capital of East Germany while West Berlin became a de facto West German exclave, surrounded by the Berlin Wall (1961–1989).[13] Following German reunification in 1990, the city was once more designated as the capital of all Germany, hosting 158 foreign embassies.[14]

Berlin is a world city of culture, politics, media, and science.[15][16][17][18] Its economy is based on high-tech firms and the service sector, encompassing a diverse range of creative industries, research facilities, media corporations, and convention venues.[19][20] Berlin serves as a continental hub for air and rail traffic and has a highly complex public transportation network. The metropolis is a popular tourist destination.[21] Significant industries also include IT, pharmaceuticals, biomedical engineering, clean tech, biotechnology, construction, and electronics.

Modern Berlin is home to renowned universities, orchestras, museums, entertainment venues, and is host to many sporting events.[22] Its urban setting has made it a sought-after location for international film productions.[23] The city is well known for its festivals, diverse architecture, nightlife, contemporary arts, and a high quality of living.[24] Over the last decade Berlin has seen the upcoming of a cosmopolitan entrepreneurial scene.[25]



The origin of the name Berlin is uncertain. It may have its roots in the language of West Slavic inhabitants of the area of today's Berlin, and may be related to the Old Polabian stem berl-/birl- ("swamp").[26] Folk etymology connects the name to the German word for bear, Bär. A bear also appears in the coat of arms of the city.[27]

12th to 16th centuries

Map of Berlin in 1688

The earliest evidence of settlements in the area of today's Berlin are a wooden rod dated from approximately 1192[28] and leftovers of wooden houseparts dated to 1174 found in a 2012 digging in Berlin Mitte.[29] The first written records of towns in the area of present-day Berlin date from the late 12th century. Spandau is first mentioned in 1197 and Köpenick in 1209, although these areas did not join Berlin until 1920.[30] The central part of Berlin can be traced back to two towns. Cölln on the Fischerinsel is first mentioned in a 1237 document, and Berlin, across the Spree in what is now called the Nikolaiviertel, is referenced in a document from 1244.[28] The former (1237) is considered to be the founding date of the city.[31] The two towns over time formed close economic and social ties. In 1307 they formed an alliance with a common external policy, their internal administrations still being separated.[32][33]

In 1415, Frederick I became the elector of the Margraviate of Brandenburg, which he ruled until 1440.[34] During the 15th century his successors would establish Berlin-Cölln as capital of the margraviate, and subsequent members of the Hohenzollern family ruled until 1918 in Berlin, first as electors of Brandenburg, then as kings of Prussia, and eventually as German emperors. In 1443 Frederick II Irontooth started the construction of a new royal palace in the twin city Berlin-Cölln. The protests of the town citizens against the building culminated in 1448, in the "Berlin Indignation" ("Berliner Unwille").[35][36] This protest was not successful, however, and the citizenry lost many of its political and economic privileges. After the royal palace was finished in 1451, it gradually came into use. From 1470, with the new elector Albrecht III Achilles, Berlin-Cölln became the new royal residence.[33] Officially, the Berlin-Cölln palace became permanent residence of the Brandenburg electors of the Hohenzollerns from 1486, when John Cicero came to power.[37] Berlin-Cölln, however, had to give up its status as a free Hanseatic city. In 1539, the electors and the city officially became Lutheran.[38]

17th to 19th centuries

Frederick the Great (1712–1786) was one of Europe's enlightened monarchs.

The Thirty Years' War between 1618 and 1648 devastated Berlin. One third of its houses were damaged or destroyed, and the city lost half of its population.[39] Frederick William, known as the "Great Elector", who had succeeded his father George William as ruler in 1640, initiated a policy of promoting immigration and religious tolerance.[40] With the Edict of Potsdam in 1685, Frederick William offered asylum to the French Huguenots.[41] By 1700, approximately 30 percent of Berlin's residents were French, because of the Huguenot immigration.[42] Many other immigrants came from Bohemia, Poland, and Salzburg.[43]

Berlin became the capital of the German Empire in 1871 and expanded rapidly in the following years. (Unter den Linden in 1900)

Since 1618, the Margraviate of Brandenburg had been in personal union with the Duchy of Prussia. In 1701, however, the dual state formed the Kingdom of Prussia, as Frederick III, Elector of Brandenburg now crowned himself as king Frederick I in Prussia. Berlin became the capital of the new Kingdom. This was a successful attempt to centralise the capital in the very outspread state, and it was the first time the city began to grow. In 1709 Berlin merged with the four cities of Cölln, Friedrichswerder, Friedrichstadt and Dorotheenstadt under the name Berlin, "Haupt- und Residenzstadt Berlin".[32]

In 1740, Frederick II, known as Frederick the Great (1740–1786), came to power.[44] Under the rule of Frederick II, Berlin became a center of the Enlightenment.[45] Following France's victory in the War of the Fourth Coalition, Napoleon Bonaparte marched into Berlin in 1806, but granted self-government to the city.[46] In 1815, the city became part of the new Province of Brandenburg.[47]

The Industrial Revolution transformed Berlin during the 19th century; the city's economy and population expanded dramatically, and it became the main railway hub and economic centre of Germany. Additional suburbs soon developed and increased the area and population of Berlin. In 1861, neighboring suburbs including Wedding, Moabit and several others were incorporated into Berlin.[48] In 1871, Berlin became capital of the newly founded German Empire.[49] In 1881, it became a city district separate from Brandenburg.[50]

20th to 21st centuries

Street, Berlin (1913) by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner

In the early 20th century, Berlin had become a fertile ground for the German Expressionist movement.[51] In fields such as architecture, painting and cinema new forms of artistic styles were invented. At the end of World War I in 1918, a republic was proclaimed by Philipp Scheidemann at the Reichstag building. In 1920, the Greater Berlin Act incorporated dozens of suburban cities, villages, and estates around Berlin into an expanded city. The act increased the area of Berlin from 66 to 883 km2 (25 to 341 sq mi). The population almost doubled and Berlin had a population of around four million. During the Weimar era, Berlin underwent political unrest due to economic uncertainties, but also became a renowned center of the Roaring Twenties. The metropolis experienced its heyday as a major world capital and was known for its leadership roles in science, the humanities, city planning, film, higher education, government, and industries. Albert Einstein rose to public prominence during his years in Berlin, being awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1921.

Berlin in ruins after World War II (Potsdamer Platz, 1945).

In 1933, Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party came to power. NSDAP rule effectively destroyed Berlin's Jewish community, which had numbered 160,000, representing one-third of all Jews in the country. Berlin's Jewish population fell to about 80,000 as a result of emigration between 1933 and 1939. After Kristallnacht in 1938, thousands of the city's persecuted groups were imprisoned in the nearby Sachsenhausen concentration camp or, starting in early 1943, were shipped to death camps, such as Auschwitz.[52] During World War II, large parts of Berlin were destroyed in the 1943–45 air raids and during the Battle of Berlin. Around 125,000 civilians were killed.[53] After the end of the war in Europe in 1945, Berlin received large numbers of refugees from the Eastern provinces. The victorious powers divided the city into four sectors, analogous to the occupation zones into which Germany was divided. The sectors of the Western Allies (the United States, the United Kingdom and France) formed West Berlin, while the Soviet sector formed East Berlin.[54]

The Berlin Wall in 1986, painted on the western side. People crossing the so-called "death strip" on the eastern side were at risk of being shot.

All four Allies shared administrative responsibilities for Berlin. However, in 1948, when the Western Allies extended the currency reform in the Western zones of Germany to the three western sectors of Berlin, the Soviet Union imposed a blockade on the access routes to and from West Berlin, which lay entirely inside Soviet-controlled territory. The Berlin airlift, conducted by the three western Allies, overcame this blockade by supplying food and other supplies to the city from June 1948 to May 1949.[55] In 1949, the Federal Republic of Germany was founded in West Germany and eventually included all of the American, British, and French zones, excluding those three countries' zones in Berlin, while the Marxist-Leninist German Democratic Republic was proclaimed in East Germany. West Berlin officially remained an occupied city, but it politically was aligned with the Federal Republic of Germany despite West Berlin's geographic isolation. Airline service to West Berlin was granted only to American, British, and French airlines.

The fall of the Berlin Wall on 9 November 1989. On 3 October 1990, the German reunification process was formally finished.

The founding of the two German states increased Cold War tensions. West Berlin was surrounded by East German territory, and East Germany proclaimed the Eastern part as its capital, a move that was not recognized by the western powers. East Berlin included most of the historic center of the city. The West German government established itself in Bonn.[56] In 1961, East Germany began the building of the Berlin Wall between East and West Berlin, and events escalated to a tank standoff at Checkpoint Charlie. West Berlin was now de facto a part of West Germany with a unique legal status, while East Berlin was de facto a part of East Germany. John F. Kennedy gave his "Ich bin ein Berliner" – speech in 1963 underlining the US support for the Western part of the city. Berlin was completely divided. Although it was possible for Westerners to pass from one to the other side through strictly controlled checkpoints, for most Easterners travel to West Berlin or West Germany was prohibited. In 1971, a Four-Power agreement guaranteed access to and from West Berlin by car or train through East Germany.[57]

In 1989, with the end of the Cold War and pressure from the East German population, the Berlin Wall fell on 9 November and was subsequently mostly demolished. Today, the East Side Gallery preserves a large portion of the Wall. On 3 October 1990, the two parts of Germany were reunified as the Federal Republic of Germany, and Berlin again became the official German capital. In 1991, the German Parliament, the Bundestag, voted to move the seat of the (West) German capital from Bonn to Berlin, which was completed in 1999. Berlin's 2001 administrative reform merged several districts. The number of boroughs was reduced from 23 to twelve. In 2006 the FIFA World Cup Final was held in Berlin.


Main article: Geography of Berlin
Berlin at night in the 21st century.
Fernsehturm Berlin, Oberbaumbrücke and the River Spree at the foreground.
Mitte, the historical center: Unter den Linden boulevard in the foreground, high-rise buildings of Potsdamer Platz up to the right.


Aerial view over Berlin Mitte.

Berlin is situated in northeastern Germany, in an area of low-lying marshy woodlands with a mainly flat topography, part of the vast Northern European Plain which stretches all the way from northern France to western Russia. The Berliner Urstromtal (an ice age glacial valley), between the low Barnim Plateau to the north and the Teltow Plateau to the south, was formed by meltwater flowing from ice sheets at the end of the last Weichselian glaciation. The Spree follows this valley now. In Spandau, Berlin's westernmost borough, the Spree empties into the river Havel, which flows from north to south through western Berlin. The course of the Havel is more like a chain of lakes, the largest being the Tegeler See and Großer Wannsee. A series of lakes also feeds into the upper Spree, which flows through the Großer Müggelsee in eastern Berlin.[58]

Substantial parts of present-day Berlin extend onto the low plateaus on both sides of the Spree Valley. Large parts of the boroughs Reinickendorf and Pankow lie on the Barnim Plateau, while most of the boroughs of Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf, Steglitz-Zehlendorf, Tempelhof-Schöneberg, and Neukölln lie on the Teltow Plateau.

The borough of Spandau lies partly within the Berlin Glacial Valley and partly on the Nauen Plain, which stretches to the west of Berlin. The highest elevations in Berlin are the Teufelsberg and the Müggelberge in the city's outskirts, and in the center the Kreuzberg. While the latter measures 66 m (217 ft) above sea level, the former both have an elevation of about 115 m (377 ft). The Teufelsberg is in fact an artificial hill composed of a pile of rubble from the ruins of World War II.


The outskirts of Berlin are covered with woodlands and numerous lakes

Berlin has an humid continental ("Dfb) according to the Köppen climate classification system.[59] There are significant influences of mild continental climate due to its inland position, with frosts being common in winter and there being larger temperature differences between seasons than typical for many oceanic climates.

Summers are warm and sometimes humid with average high temperatures of 22–25 °C (72–77 °F) and lows of 12–14 °C (54–57 °F). Winters are cool with average high temperatures of 3 °C (37 °F) and lows of −2 to 0 °C (28 to 32 °F). Spring and autumn are generally chilly to mild. Berlin's built-up area creates a microclimate, with heat stored by the city's buildings. Temperatures can be 4 °C (7 °F) higher in the city than in the surrounding areas.[60]

Annual precipitation is 570 millimeters (22 in) with moderate rainfall throughout the year. Snowfall mainly occurs from December through March.[61]

Climate data for Berlin
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 15.2
Average high °C (°F) 2.9
Daily mean °C (°F) 0.5
Average low °C (°F) −1.9
Record low °C (°F) −21.0
Average rainfall mm (inches) 42.3
Avg. rainy days (≥ 1.0 mm) 10.0 8.0 9.1 7.8 8.9 7.0 7.0 7.0 7.8 7.6 9.6 11.4 101.2
Mean monthly sunshine hours 46.5 73.5 120.9 159.0 220.1 222.0 217.0 210.8 156.0 111.6 51.0 37.2 1,625.6
Source: World Meteorological Organization (UN),[62] HKO[63][64]


Berlin Mitte landmarks from left to right: Reichstag building, Fernsehturm Berlin, Berlin Cathedral, City hall, Brandenburg Gate

Berlin's history has left the city with a highly eclectic array of architecture and buildings. The city's appearance today is predominantly shaped by the key role it played in Germany's history in the 20th century. Each of the national governments based in Berlin — the Kingdom of Prussia, the 1871 German Empire, the Weimar Republic, Nazi Germany, East Germany, and now the reunified Germany — initiated ambitious (re-)construction programs, with each adding its own distinctive style to the city's architecture.

Berlin was devastated by bombing raids, fires and street battles during World War II, and many of the buildings that had remained after the war were demolished in the post-war period in both West and East Berlin. Much of this demolition was initiated by municipal architecture programs to build new residential or business quarters and main roads. Many ornaments of pre-war buildings were destroyed following modernist dogmas. While in both systems and in reunified Berlin, various important heritage monuments were also (partly) reconstructed, including the Forum Fridericianum with e.g. the State Opera (1955), Charlottenburg Palace (1957), the main monuments of the Gendarmenmarkt (1980s), Kommandantur (2003) and the project to reconstruct the baroque facades of the City Palace. A number of new buildings is inspired by historical predecessors or the general classical style of Berlin, such as Hotel Adlon.

Clusters of high-rise buildings emerge at e.g. Potsdamer Platz, City West and Alexanderplatz. Berlin has three of the top 40 tallest buildings in Germany.


A residential building in Kreuzberg.

The Fernsehturm (TV tower) at Alexanderplatz in Mitte is among the tallest structures in the European Union at 368 m (1,207 ft). Built in 1969, it is visible throughout most of the central districts of Berlin. The city can be viewed from its 204 m (669 ft) high observation floor. Starting here the Karl-Marx-Allee heads east, an avenue lined by monumental residential buildings, designed in the Socialist Classicism style. Adjacent to this area is the Rotes Rathaus (City Hall), with its distinctive red-brick architecture. In front of it is the Neptunbrunnen, a fountain featuring a mythological group of Tritons, personifications of the four main Prussian rivers and Neptune on top of it.

The Brandenburg Gate is an iconic landmark of Berlin and Germany. The Reichstag building is the traditional seat of the German Parliament, was remodeled by British architect Norman Foster in the 1990s and features a glass dome over the session area, which allows free public access to the parliamentary proceedings and magnificent views of the city.

The East Side Gallery is an open-air exhibition of art painted directly on the last existing portions of the Berlin Wall. It is the largest remaining evidence of the city's historical division.

The Gendarmenmarkt, a neoclassical square in Berlin the name of which derives from the headquarters of the famous Gens d'armes regiment located here in the 18th century, is bordered by two similarly designed cathedrals, the Französischer Dom with its observation platform and the Deutscher Dom. The Konzerthaus (Concert Hall), home of the Berlin Symphony Orchestra, stands between the two cathedrals.

Potsdamer Platz at night.

The Museum Island in the River Spree houses five museums built from 1830 to 1930 and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Restoration and the construction of a main entrance to all museums, as well as the reconstruction of the Stadtschloss is continuing.[65][66] Also located on the island and adjacent to the Lustgarten and palace is Berlin Cathedral, emperor William II's ambitious attempt to create a Protestant counterpart to St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. A large crypt houses the remains of some of the earlier Prussian royal family. St. Hedwig's Cathedral is Berlin's Roman Catholic cathedral.

View towards Friedrichstraße

Unter den Linden is a tree-lined east–west avenue from the Brandenburg Gate to the site of the former Berliner Stadtschloss, and was once Berlin's premier promenade. Many Classical buildings line the street and part of Humboldt University is located there. Friedrichstraße was Berlin's legendary street during the Golden Twenties. It combines 20th-century traditions with the modern architecture of today's Berlin.

Potsdamer Platz is an entire quarter built from scratch after 1995 after the Wall came down.[67] To the west of Potsdamer Platz is the Kulturforum, which houses the Gemäldegalerie, and is flanked by the Neue Nationalgalerie and the Berliner Philharmonie. The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, a Holocaust memorial, is situated to the north.[68]

The area around Hackescher Markt is home to the fashionable culture, with countless clothing outlets, clubs, bars, and galleries. This includes the Hackesche Höfe, a conglomeration of buildings around several courtyards, reconstructed around 1996. The nearby New Synagogue is the center of Jewish culture.

Schloss Charlottenburg is the largest existing palace in Berlin.

The Straße des 17. Juni, connecting the Brandenburg Gate and Ernst-Reuter-Platz, serves as the central East-West-Axis. Its name commemorates the uprisings in East Berlin of 17 June 1953. Approximately half-way from the Brandenburg Gate is the Großer Stern, a circular traffic island on which the Siegessäule (Victory Column) is situated. This monument, built to commemorate Prussia's victories, was relocated 1938–39 from its previous position in front of the Reichstag.

The Kurfürstendamm is home to some of Berlin's luxurious stores with the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church at its eastern end on Breitscheidplatz. The church was destroyed in the Second World War and left in ruins. Nearby on Tauentzienstraße is KaDeWe, claimed to be continental Europe's largest department store. The Rathaus Schöneberg, where John F. Kennedy made his famous "Ich bin ein Berliner!" speech, is situated in Tempelhof-Schöneberg.

West of the center, Schloss Bellevue is the residence of the German President. Schloss Charlottenburg, which was burnt out in the Second World War is the largest historical palace in Berlin.

The Funkturm Berlin is a 150 m (490 ft) tall lattice radio tower at the fair area, built between 1924 and 1926. It is the only observation tower which stands on insulators and has a restaurant 55 m (180 ft) and an observation deck 126 m (413 ft) above ground, which is reachable by a windowed elevator.


Young Berliners at the Tiergarten

On 31 December 2014, the city-state of Berlin had a population of 3,562,166 registered inhabitants[4] in an area of 891.85 km2 (344.35 sq mi).[69] The city's population density was 3,994 inhabitants per km2. Berlin is the second most populous city proper in the EU. The urban area of Berlin comprised about 4 million people making it the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union.[5] The metropolitan area of the Berlin-Brandenburg region was home to about 4.5 million in an area of 5,370 km2 (2,070 sq mi). In 2004, the Larger Urban Zone was home to about 5 million people in an area of 17,385 km2 (6,712 sq mi).[9] The entire Berlin-Brandenburg capital region has a population of 6 million.[70]

Berlin's population 1880–2012

National and international migration into the city has a long history. In 1685, following the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in France, the city responded with the Edict of Potsdam, which guaranteed religious freedom and tax-free status to French Huguenot refugees for ten years. The Greater Berlin Act in 1920 incorporated many suburbs and surrounding cities of Berlin. It formed most of the territory that comprises modern Berlin and increased the population from 1.9 million to 4 million.

Active immigration and asylum politics in West Berlin triggered waves of immigration in the 1960s and 1970s. Currently, Berlin is home to about 200,000 Turks,[71] making it the largest Turkish community outside of Turkey. In the 1990s the Aussiedlergesetze enabled immigration to Germany of some residents from the former Soviet Union. Today ethnic Germans from countries of the former Soviet Union make up the largest portion of the Russian-speaking community.[72] The last decade experienced an influx from various Western countries and some African regions.[73] Young Germans, EU-Europeans and Israelis have settled in the city.[74]

International communities

Foreign born populations[75]
Country of birth Population (2014)
 Turkey 99,558
 Poland 51,084
 Italy 22,693
 Serbia 19,137
 Russia 18,982
 Bulgaria 18,352
 France 16,806
 United States 15,289
 Vietnam 14,341
 Spain 13,231
 United Kingdom 12,512
 Greece 11,764
 Bosnia and Herzegovina 11,224
 Romania 10,880
 Austria 10,536

In December 2013, 538,729 residents (15.3% of the population) were of foreign nationality, originating from over 180 different countries.[76] Another estimated 460,000 citizens in 2013 are descendants of international migrants and have either become naturalized German citizens or obtained citizenship by virtue of birth in Germany.[77] In 2008, about 25%–30% of the population was of foreign origin.[78] 45 percent of the residents under the age of 18 have foreign roots.[79] Berlin is estimated to have from 100,000 to 250,000 non-registered inhabitants.[80]

There are more than 25 non-indigenous communities with a population of at least 10,000 people, including Turkish, Polish, Russian, Lebanese, Palestinian, Serbian, Italian, Bosnian, Vietnamese, American, Romanian, Bulgarian, Chinese, Austrian, Ghanaian, Ukrainian, French, British, Spanish, Israeli, Thai, Iranian, Egyptian and Syrian communities.

The most-commonly-spoken foreign languages in Berlin are Turkish, English, Russian, Arabic, Polish, Kurdish, Vietnamese, Serbian, Croatian and French. Turkish, Arabic, Kurdish, Serbian and Croatian are heard more often in the western part, due to the large Middle Eastern and former-Yugoslavian communities. English, Vietnamese, Russian, and Polish have more native speakers in eastern Berlin.[81]


Religion in Berlin - 2010
Non religious
EKD Protestants
Roman Catholics
Other Christian
Other religion

More than 60% of Berlin residents have no registered religious affiliation.[82] The largest denominations in 2010 were the Protestant regional church body of the Evangelical Church of Berlin-Brandenburg-Silesian Upper Lusatia (EKBO) (a church of united administration comprising mostly Lutheran, and few Reformed and United Protestant congregations; EKBO is a member of the umbrellas Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) and Union Evangelischer Kirchen (UEK)) with 18.7% of the population,[83] and the Roman Catholic Church with 9.1% of registered members.[83] About 2.7% of the population identify with other Christian denominations (mostly Eastern Orthodox)[84] and 8.1% are Muslims.[85] 0.9% of Berliners belong to other religions.[86] Approximately 80% of the 12,000 (0.3%) registered Jews now residing in Berlin,[84] have come from the former Soviet Union.

Berlin Cathedral, held by the Protestant congregation UEK.

Berlin is the seat of the Roman Catholic archbishop of Berlin and EKBO's elected chairperson is titled bishop of EKBO. Furthermore, Berlin is the seat of many Orthodox cathedrals, such as the Cathedral of St. Boris the Baptist, one of the two seats of the Bulgarian Orthodox Diocese of Western and Central Europe, and the Resurrection of Christ Cathedral of the Diocese of Berlin (Patriarchate of Moscow).

The faithful of the different religions and denominations maintain many places of worship in Berlin. The Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church has eight parishes of different sizes in Berlin.[87] There are 36 Baptist congregations (within Union of Evangelical Free Church Congregations in Germany), 29 New Apostolic Churches, 15 United Methodist churches, eight Free Evangelical Congregations, six congregations of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, an Old Catholic church, and an Anglican church in Berlin.

Berlin has 76 mosques (including three Ahmadiyya mosques), eleven synagogues, and two Buddhist temples, in addition to a number of humanist and atheist groups.


Main article: Politics of Berlin

City state

Rotes Rathaus, seat of the Berlin Senate

Since the reunification on 3 October 1990, Berlin has been one of the three city states in Germany among the present 16 states of Germany. The city and state parliament is the House of Representatives (Abgeordnetenhaus), which currently has 141 seats. Berlin's executive body is the Senate of Berlin (Senat von Berlin). The Senate of Berlin consists of the Governing Mayor (Regierender Bürgermeister) and up to eight senators holding ministerial positions, one of them holding the official title "Mayor" (Bürgermeister) as deputy to the Governing Mayor.

The Social Democratic Party (SPD) and The Left (Die Linke) took control of the city government after the 2001 state election and won another term in the 2006 state election.[88] Since the 2011 state election, there has been a coalition of the Social Democratic Party with the Christian Democratic Union, and for the first time ever, the Pirate Party won seats in a state parliament in Germany.

The Governing Mayor is simultaneously Lord Mayor of the city (Oberbürgermeister der Stadt) and Prime Minister of the Federal State (Ministerpräsident des Bundeslandes). The office of Berlin's Governing Mayor is in the Rotes Rathaus (Red City Hall). Since 2014 this office has been held by Michael Müller of the SPD.[89] On August 26, 2014, Wowereit announced his resignation as of December 11, 2014.[90]

The total annual state budget of Berlin in 2007 exceeded €20.5 ($28.7) billion including a budget surplus of €80 ($112) million.[91] The total budget included an estimated amount of €5.5 ($7.7) bn, which is directly financed by either the German government or the German Bundesländer.[92]


Berlin is subdivided into twelve boroughs (Bezirke). Each borough contains a number of localities (Ortsteile), which often have historic roots in older municipalities that predate the formation of Greater Berlin on 1 October 1920 and became urbanized and incorporated into the city. Many residents strongly identify with their localities or boroughs. At present Berlin consists of 96 localities, which are commonly made up of several city neighborhoods—called Kiez in the Berlin dialect—representing small residential areas.

Each borough is governed by a borough council (Bezirksamt) consisting of five councilors (Bezirksstadträte) and a borough mayor (Bezirksbürgermeister). The borough council is elected by the borough assembly (Bezirksverordnetenversammlung). The boroughs of Berlin are not independent municipalities, however. The power of borough administration is limited and subordinate to the Senate of Berlin. The borough mayors form the council of mayors (Rat der Bürgermeister), led by the city's governing mayor, which advises the senate. The localities have no local government bodies.

Sister cities

Berlin maintains official partnerships with 17 cities.[93] Town twinning between Berlin and other cities began with sister city Los Angeles in 1967. East Berlin's partnerships were canceled at the time of German reunification and later partially reestablished. West Berlin's partnerships had previously been restricted to the borough level. During the Cold War era, the partnerships had reflected the different power blocs, with West Berlin partnering with capitals in the West, and East Berlin mostly partnering with cities from the Warsaw Pact and its allies.

There are several joint projects with many other cities, such as Beirut, Belgrade, São Paulo, Copenhagen, Helsinki, Johannesburg, Mumbai, Oslo, Shanghai, Seoul, Sofia, Sydney, New York City and Vienna. Berlin participates in international city associations such as the Union of the Capitals of the European Union, Eurocities, Network of European Cities of Culture, Metropolis, Summit Conference of the World's Major Cities, and Conference of the World's Capital Cities. Berlin's official sister cities are:[93]

Capital city

Berlin is the capital of the Federal Republic of Germany. The President of Germany, whose functions are mainly ceremonial under the German constitution, has his official residence in Schloss Bellevue.[97] Berlin is the seat of the German executive, housed in the Chancellery, the Bundeskanzleramt. Facing the Chancellery is the Bundestag, the German Parliament, housed in the renovated Reichstag building since the government moved back to Berlin in 1998. The Bundesrat ("federal council", performing the function of an upper house) is the representation of the Federal States (Bundesländer) of Germany and has its seat at the former Prussian House of Lords.

Though most of the ministries are seated in Berlin, some of them, as well as some minor departments, are seated in Bonn, the former capital of West Germany. Discussions to move the remaining branches continue.[98] The ministries and departments of Defence, Justice and Consumer Protection, Finance, Interior, Foreign, Economic Affairs and Energy, Labour and Social Affairs , Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth, Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety, Food and Agriculture, Economic Cooperation and Development, Health, Transport and Digital Infrastructure and Education and Research are based in the capital.

Berlin hosts 158 foreign embassies as well as the headquarters of many think tanks, trade unions, non-profit organizations, lobbying groups, and professional associations. Due to the influence and international partnerships of the Federal Republic of Germany as a state, the capital city has become a venue for German and European affairs. Frequent official visits, and diplomatic consultations among governmental representatives and national leaders are common in contemporary Berlin.


Main article: Economy of Berlin
Berlin is a UNESCO "City of Design" and recognized for its creative industries and start-up environment.

In 2013, the nominal GDP of the citystate Berlin experienced a growth rate of 1.2% (0.6% in Germany) and totaled €109.2 (~$142) billion.[99] Berlin's economy is dominated by the service sector, with around 80% of all companies doing business in services. The unemployment rate reached a 20-year low in June 2014 and stood at 11.0% .[100]

Important economic sectors in Berlin include life sciences, transportation, information and communication technologies, media and music, advertising and design, biotechnology, environmental services, construction, e-commerce, retail, hotel business, and medical engineering.[101]

Research and development have economic significance for the city. The metropolitan region ranks among the top-3 innovative locations in the EU.[102] The Science and Business Park in Adlershof is the largest technology park in Germany measured by revenue.[103] Within the Eurozone, Berlin has become a center for business relocation and international investments.[104]


Air Berlin is headquartered in Berlin.

Many German and international companies have business or service centers in the city. For some years Berlin has been recognized as a center of business founders in Europe.[105] Among the 10 largest employers in Berlin are the City-State of Berlin, Deutsche Bahn, the hospital provider Charité and Vivantes, the local public transport provider BVG, and Deutsche Telekom.

Daimler manufactures cars, and BMW builds motorcycles in Berlin. Bayer Health Care and Berlin Chemie are major pharmaceutical companies headquartered in the city. The second largest German airline Air Berlin is based there as well.[106]

Siemens, a Global 500 and DAX-listed company is partly headquartered in Berlin. The national railway operator Deutsche Bahn and the MDAX-listed media conglomerate Axel Springer SE have their headquarters in the central districts.[107] Berlin has a cluster of rail technology companies and is the German headquarter or site to Bombardier Transportation,[108] Siemens Mobility,[109] Stadler Rail and Thales Transportation.[110]

Tourism and conventions

The ICC is part of the city's exhibition and congress center.

Berlin had 788 hotels with 134,399 beds in 2014.[111] The city recorded 28.7 million overnight hotel stays and 11.9 million hotel guests in 2014.[111] Tourism figures have more than doubled within the last ten years and Berlin has become the third most-visited city destination in Europe.

Berlin is among the top three congress cities in the world and home to Europe's biggest convention center, the Internationales Congress Centrum (ICC) at the Messe Berlin.[19] Several large-scale trade fairs like the consumer electronics trade fair IFA, the ILA Berlin Air Show, the Berlin Fashion Week (including the Bread and Butter tradeshow), the Green Week, the transport fair InnoTrans, the tourism fair ITB and the adult entertainment and erotic fair Venus are held annually in the city, attracting a significant number of business visitors.

Creative industries

Industries that do business in the creative arts and entertainment are an important and sizable sector of the economy of Berlin. The creative arts sector comprises music, film, advertising, architecture, art, design, fashion, performing arts, publishing, R&D, software,[112] TV, radio, and video games. Around 22,600 creative enterprises, predominantly SMEs, generated over 18,6 billion Euro in total revenue. Berlin's creative industries have contributed an estimated 20% of Berlin's gross domestic product in 2005.[113]


Headquarter of the Axel Springer SE

Berlin is home to many international and regional television and radio stations.[114] The public broadcaster RBB has its headquarters in Berlin as well as the commercial broadcasters MTV Europe, VIVA, and N24. German international public broadcaster Deutsche Welle has its TV production unit in Berlin, and most national German broadcasters have a studio in the city including ZDF and RTL.

Berlin has Germany's largest number of daily newspapers, with numerous local broadsheets (Berliner Morgenpost, Berliner Zeitung, Der Tagesspiegel), and three major tabloids, as well as national dailies of varying sizes, each with a different political affiliation, such as Die Welt, Neues Deutschland, and Die Tageszeitung. The Exberliner, a monthly magazine, is Berlin's English-language periodical focusing on arts and entertainment. Berlin is also the headquarters of the two major German-language publishing houses Walter de Gruyter and Springer, each of which publish books, periodicals, and multimedia products.

Berlin is an important center in the European and German film industry.[115] It is home to more than 1000 film and television production companies, 270 movie theaters, and around 300 national and international co-productions are filmed in the region every year.[102] The historic Babelsberg Studios and the production company UFA are located outside Berlin in Potsdam. The city is also home of the European Film Academy and the German Film Academy, and hosts the annual Berlin Film Festival. With around 500,000 admissions it is the largest publicly attended film festival in the world.[116][117]



Main article: Transport in Berlin
Berlin Hauptbahnhof is the largest grade-separated railway station in Europe.

Berlin's transport infrastructure is highly complex, providing a diverse range of urban mobility.[118] A total of 979 bridges cross 197 km (122 mi) of inner-city waterways. 5,422 km (3,369 mi) of roads run through Berlin, of which 77 km (48 mi) are motorways ("Autobahn").[119] In 2013, 1.344 million motor vehicles were registered in the city.[119] With 377 cars per 1000 residents in 2013 (570/1000 in Germany), Berlin as a Western global city has one of the lowest numbers of cars per capita.

Long-distance rail lines connect Berlin with all of the major cities of Germany and with many cities in neighboring European countries. Regional rail lines provide access to the surrounding regions of Brandenburg and to the Baltic Sea. The Berlin Hauptbahnhof is the largest grade-separated railway station in Europe.[120] Deutsche Bahn runs trains to domestic destinations like Hamburg, Munich, Cologne and others. It also runs an airport express rail service, as well as trains to several international destinations, e.g. Vienna, Prague, Zürich, Warsaw and Amsterdam.

Public transport

The Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe and the Deutsche Bahn manage several dense urban public transport systems.[121]

System Stations/ Lines/ Net length Passengers per year Operator/ Notes
S-Bahn 166 / 15 / 332 km (206 mi) 402 million DB/ Mainly overground rapid transit rail system with suburban stops.
U-Bahn 173 / 10 / 151 km (94 mi) 507 million BVG/ Mainly underground rail system. 24h-service on weekends.
Tram 398 / 22 / 192 km (119 mi) 189 million BVG/ Operates predominantly in eastern boroughs.
Bus 2627 / 149 / 1,626 km (1,010 mi) 409 million BVG/ Extensive services in all boroughs. 46 Night Lines
Ferry 6 lines BVG/ All modes of transport can be accessed with the same ticket.[69]
Flights departing from Berlin serve 163 destinations around the globe

Berlin has two commercial airports. Berlin Tegel Airport (TXL), which lies within the city limits, and Schönefeld Airport (SXF), which is situated just outside Berlin's south-eastern border in the state of Brandenburg. Both airports together handled 26,3 million passengers in 2013. In 2014, 67 airlines served 163 destinations in 50 countries from Berlin.[122] Tegel Airport is an important transfer hub for Air Berlin as well as a focus city for Lufthansa and Germanwings, whereas Schönefeld serves as an important destination for airlines like easyJet.

Berlin Brandenburg Airport (BER) will replace Tegel as single commercial airport of Berlin.[123] The new airport will integrate old Schönefeld (SXF) facilities and is scheduled to open not before 2017. Because of the rapid passenger growth at Berlin airports the capacities at the BER are already considered too small for the projected demand.

Main article: Cycling in Berlin

Berlin is well known for its highly developed bicycle lane system.[124] It is estimated that Berlin has 710 bicycles per 1000 residents. Around 500,000 daily bike riders accounted for 13% of total traffic in 2009.[125] Cyclists have access to 620 km (385 mi) of bicycle paths including approximately 150 km (93 mi) of mandatory bicycle paths, 190 km (118 mi) (120 miles) of off-road bicycle routes, 60 km (37 mi) of bicycle lanes on roads, 70 km (43 mi) of shared bus lanes which are also open to cyclists, 100 km (62 mi) of combined pedestrian/bike paths and 50 km (31 mi) of marked bicycle lanes on roadside pavements (or sidewalks).[126]


Heizkraftwerk Mitte

Berlin's energy is mainly supplied by the Swedish firm Vattenfall, which relies more heavily than other electricity producers on lignite as an energy source. Because burning lignite produces harmful emissions, Vattenfall has announced its commitment to transitioning to cleaner sources, such as renewable energy.[127] In the former West Berlin, electricity was supplied chiefly by thermal power stations. To facilitate buffering during load peaks, accumulators were installed during the 1980s at some of these power stations. These were connected by static inverters to the power grid and were loaded during times of low energy consumption and unloaded during periods of high consumption.

In 1993 the power grid connections to the surrounding areas were restored. In the western districts of Berlin, nearly all power lines are underground cables; only a 380 kV and a 110 kV line, which run from Reuter substation to the urban Autobahn, use overhead lines. The Berlin 380-kV electric line was built when West Berlin's electrical grid was not connected to those of East or West Germany. This has now become the backbone of the city's energy grid.


The Charité university hospital.

Berlin has a long history of discoveries in medicine and innovations in medical technology.[128] The modern history of medicine has been significantly influenced by scientists from Berlin. Rudolf Virchow was the founder of cellular pathology, while Robert Koch developed vaccines for anthrax, cholera, and tuberculosis.[129]

The Charité hospital complex is the largest university hospital in Europe, tracing back its origins to the year 1710. The Charité is spread over four sites and comprises 3,300 beds, around 14,000 staff, 7,000 students, and more than 60 operating theaters, and it has a turnover of over one billion euros annually.[130] The Charité is a joint institution of the Freie Universität Berlin and the Humboldt University of Berlin, including a wide range of institutes and specialized medical centers.

Among them are the German Heart Center, one of the most renowned transplantation centers, the Max-Delbrück-Center for Molecular Medicine and the Max-Planck-Institute for Molecular Genetics. The scientific research at these institutions is complemented by many research departments of companies such as Siemens and Bayer. The World Health Summit and several international health related conventions are held annually in Berlin.


Main article: Education in Berlin
The Humboldt University

Berlin has 878 schools that teach 340,658 children in 13,727 classes and 56,787 trainees in businesses and elsewhere.[102] The city has a six-year primary education program. After completing primary school, students continue to the Sekundarschule (a comprehensive school) or Gymnasium (college preparatory school). Berlin has a special bilingual school program embedded in the "Europaschule" in which children are taught the curriculum in German and a foreign language, starting in primary school and continuing in high school. Nine major European languages can be chosen as foreign languages in 29 schools.[131]

The Französisches Gymnasium Berlin, which was founded in 1689 to teach the children of Huguenot refugees, offers (German/French) instruction.[132] The John F. Kennedy School, a bilingual German–American public school located in Zehlendorf, is particularly popular with children of diplomats and the English-speaking expatriate community. Four schools teach Latin and Classical Greek. Two of them are state schools (Steglitzer Gymnasium in Steglitz and Goethe-Gymnasium in Wilmersdorf), one is Protestant (Evangelisches Gymnasium zum Grauen Kloster in Wilmersdorf), and one is Jesuit (Canisius-Kolleg in the "Embassy Quarter" in Tiergarten).

Higher education

The Freie Universität

The Berlin-Brandenburg capital region is one of the most prolific centers of higher education and research in Germany and Europe. Historically, 40 Nobel Prize winners are affiliated with the Berlin-based universities.

The city has four public research universities and 27 private, professional, and technical colleges (Hochschulen), offering a wide range of disciplines.[133] Over 160,000 students were enrolled in the winter term of 2012/13.[134] The three largest universities combined have approximately 100,000 enrolled students. There are the Humboldt Universität zu Berlin (HU Berlin) with 34,000 students, the Freie Universität Berlin (Free University of Berlin, FU Berlin) with about 34,500 students, and the Technische Universität Berlin (TU Berlin) with 30,000 students. The Universität der Künste (UdK) has about 4,000 students and the Berlin School of Economics and Law has enrollment of about 9,000 students.


The city has a high density of research institutions, such as the Fraunhofer Society, Leibniz Association and the Max Planck Society, which are independent of, or only loosely connected to its universities. In 2008, 62,000 scientists were working in research and development in the city.[102] Berlin is one of the centers of knowledge and innovation communities of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT).[135]

In addition to the libraries that are affiliated with the various universities, the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin is a major research library. Its two main locations are on Potsdamer Straße and on Unter den Linden. There are also 86 public libraries in the city.[102] ResearchGate, a global social networking site for scientists, is based in Berlin.


Main article: Culture in Berlin
The Berlinale is considered to be the largest international spectator film festival.

Berlin is known for its numerous cultural institutions, many of which enjoy international reputation.[22][136] The diversity and vivacity of the metropolis led to a trendsetting atmosphere.[137] An innovative music, dance and art scene has developed in the 21st century.

Young people, international artists and entrepreneurs continued to settle in the city and made Berlin a popular entertainment center in Europe.[138]

The expanding cultural performance of the city was underscored by the relocation of the Universal Music Group and MTV who decided to move their headquarters and main studios to the banks of the River Spree.[139] In 2005, Berlin was named "City of Design" by UNESCO.[20]

Galleries and museums

The Jewish Museum presents two millennia of German–Jewish history.

As of 2011 Berlin is home to 138 museums and more than 400 art galleries.[102] [140] The ensemble on the Museum Island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is situated in the northern part of the Spree Island between the Spree and the Kupfergraben.[22] As early as 1841 it was designated a "district dedicated to art and antiquities" by a royal decree. Subsequently, the Altes Museum was built in the Lustgarten. The Neues Museum, which displays the bust of Queen Nefertiti,[141] Alte Nationalgalerie, Pergamon Museum, and Bode Museum were built there. While these buildings once housed distinct collections, the names of the buildings no longer necessarily correspond to the names of their collections.

Apart from the Museum Island, there are many additional museums in the city. The Gemäldegalerie (Painting Gallery) focuses on the paintings of the "old masters" from the 13th to the 18th centuries, while the Neue Nationalgalerie (New National Gallery, built by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe) specializes in 20th-century European painting. The Hamburger Bahnhof, located in Moabit, exhibits a major collection of modern and contemporary art. In spring 2006, the expanded Deutsches Historisches Museum re-opened in the Zeughaus with an overview of German history through the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. The Bauhaus Archive is an architecture museum.

The reconstructed Ishtar Gate of Babylon at the Pergamon Museum.

The Jewish Museum has a standing exhibition on two millennia of German-Jewish history.[142] The German Museum of Technology in Kreuzberg has a large collection of historical technical artifacts. The Museum für Naturkunde exhibits natural history near Berlin Hauptbahnhof. It has the largest mounted dinosaur in the world (a brachiosaurus), and a preserved specimen of the early bird Archaeopteryx.[143]

In Dahlem, there are several museums of world art and culture, such as the Museum of Asian Art, the Ethnological Museum, the Museum of European Cultures, as well as the Allied Museum (a museum of the Cold War) and the Brücke Museum (an art museum). In Lichtenberg, on the grounds of the former East German Ministry for State Security (Stasi), is the Stasi Museum. The site of Checkpoint Charlie, one of the most renowned crossing points of the Berlin Wall, is still preserved and also has a museum, a private venture which exhibits comprehensive documentation of detailed plans and strategies devised by people who tried to flee from the East. The Beate Uhse Erotic Museum claims to be the world's largest erotic museum.[144]

Nightlife and festivals

Berlin's nightlife is one of the most diverse and vibrant of its kind in Europe.[145] Throughout the 1990s, people in their twenties from many countries, particularly those in Western and Central Europe, made Berlin's club scene a premier nightlife venue. After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, many historic buildings in Mitte, the former city center of East Berlin, were illegally occupied and re-built by young squatters and became a fertile ground for underground and counterculture gatherings. The central boroughs are home to many nightclubs, including the clubs Watergate, Tresor, E-Werk, and Berghain. The KitKatClub and several other locations are known for sexually uninhibited parties.

Clubs are not required to close at a fixed time on the weekends, and many parties last well into the morning, or all weekend. Berghain features the Panorama Bar, a bar that opens its shades at daybreak, allowing party-goers a panorama view of Berlin after dancing through the night. The Weekend Club near Alexanderplatz features a roof terrace that allows partying at almost any time of the day.

The SO36 in Kreuzberg originally focused largely on punk music, but today has become a venue for many performances. SOUND, located from 1971 to 1988 in Tiergarten and today in Charlottenburg, gained notoriety in the late 1970s for its popularity with heroin users and other drug addicts as described in Christiane F.'s book Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo.[146]

The Karneval der Kulturen (Carnival of Cultures), a multi-ethnic street parade celebrated every Pentecost weekend,[147] and the Christopher Street Day are both supported by the city's government.[148] Berlin is also well known for the cultural festival, Berliner Festspiele, which includes the jazz festival JazzFest Berlin. Several technology and media art festivals and conferences are held in the city, including Transmediale and Chaos Communication Congress. The annual Berlin Festival is focusing on indie rock and electro pop and is part of the international Berlin Music Week.[149][150]

Performing arts

Main article: Music in Berlin
Sir Simon Rattle conducting the renowned Berlin Philharmonic.

Berlin is home to 44 theaters and stages.[102] The Deutsches Theater in Mitte was built in 1849–50 and has operated continuously since then, except for a one-year break (1944–45) due to the Second World War. The Volksbühne at Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz was built in 1913–14, though the company had been founded in 1890. The Berliner Ensemble, famous for performing the works of Bertolt Brecht, was established in 1949, not far from the Deutsches Theater. The Schaubühne was founded in 1962 in a building in Kreuzberg, but in 1981 moved to the building of the former Universum Cinema on Kurfürstendamm.

Dance show at Friedrichstadt-Palast

Berlin has three major opera houses: the Deutsche Oper, the Berlin State Opera, and the Komische Oper. The Berlin State Opera on Unter den Linden opened in 1742 and is the oldest of the three. Its current musical director is Daniel Barenboim. The Komische Oper has traditionally specialized in operettas and is located at Unter den Linden as well. The Deutsche Oper opened in 1912 in Charlottenburg. During the division of the city from 1961 to 1989 it was the only major opera house in West Berlin. The city's main venue for musical theater performances are the Theater am Potsdamer Platz and Theater des Westens (built in 1895).

There are seven symphony orchestras in Berlin. The Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra is one of the preeminent orchestras in the world;[151] it is housed in the Berliner Philharmonie near Potsdamer Platz on a street named for the orchestra's longest-serving conductor, Herbert von Karajan.[152] The current principal conductor is Simon Rattle.[153] The Konzerthausorchester Berlin was founded in 1952 as the orchestra for East Berlin, since the Philharmonic was based in West Berlin. Its current principal conductor is Ivan Fischer. The Haus der Kulturen der Welt presents various exhibitions dealing with intercultural issues and stages world music and conferences.[154]

LGBT life

Berlin has a long history of gay culture and according to some authors, in the 1920s the city was the Gay Capital of Europe. In 1896 Berlin started the first gay magazine and the first gay demonstration was held in 1922.[155] Today the city again has a huge number of gay clubs and festivals. The most famous are Berlin Pride (one of Europe's largest gay-lesbian pride event celebrated in June), the Lesbian and Gay City Festival in Berlin-Schöneberg and Kreuzberg Pride in June, Dyke March and Hustlaball.

Berlin is also leading Europe in the number of fetish clubs. Easter in Berlin and Folsom Europe Berlin are the biggest gay fetish festivals in Europe.[156] The Schwules Museum (Gay Museum) is an LGBT museum which opened in 1985. The largest gay areas in Berlin are located in Schöneberg close to Nollendorfplatz, in Prenzlauer Berg at the Schönhauser Allee.[157][158]


Twelve restaurants in Berlin have been included into the Michelin guide, which ranks the city at the top for the number of its restaurants having this distinction in Germany.[159] Apart from that, Berlin is well known for its vast offerings of vegetarian, vegan and organic food.[160]

Many local foods originated from north German culinary traditions and include rustic and hearty dishes with pork, goose, fish, peas, beans, cucumbers, or potatoes. German bakeries offering a variety of breads and pastries are widespread. Typical Berliner fares include Currywurst, invented in 1949,[161] Buletten (Frikadeller) and the Berliner known in Berlin as a Pfannkuchen.

Berlin is also home to a diverse gastronomy scene reflecting the immigrant history of the city. Turkish and Arab immigrants brought their culinary traditions to the city, such as the falafel and lahmacun, which have become common fast food staples. The modern version of the döner kebab was invented in Berlin in 1971.[162] Thai food, tapas bars, sushi restaurants and Italian cuisine can be found in many parts of the city.


The Berlin Zoo is the most visited zoo in Europe and presents the most diverse range of species in the world.

Zoologischer Garten Berlin, the older of two zoos in the city, was founded in 1844 and presents the most diverse range of species in the world.[163] It was the home of the captive-born celebrity polar bear Knut.[164] The city's other zoo, Tierpark Friedrichsfelde, was founded in 1955.

Berlin's Botanischer Garten includes the Botanic Museum Berlin. With an area of 43 hectares (110 acres) and around 22,000 different plant species, it is one of the largest and most diverse collections of botanical life in the world. Other gardens in the city include the Britzer Garten, and the Erholungspark Marzahn (also known as "Gardens of the World).[165]

The Tiergarten, located in Mitte, is Berlin's largest park and was designed by Peter Joseph Lenné.[166] In Kreuzberg, the Viktoriapark provides a viewing point over the southern part of inner-city Berlin. Treptower Park, beside the Spree in Treptow, features a large Soviet War Memorial. The Volkspark in Friedrichshain, which opened in 1848, is the oldest park in the city, with monuments, a summer outdoor cinema and several sports areas.[167]

Berlin is also known for its numerous cafés, beach bars along the Spree River, flea markets and boutique shops which are a source for recreation and leisure.[168]


The Olympiastadion hosted the 1936 Summer Olympics and the 2006 FIFA World Cup Final.
The annual Berlin Marathon is known as a fast course.

Berlin has established a high-profile reputation as a host city of international sporting events.[169] The city hosted the 1936 Summer Olympics and was the host city for the 2006 FIFA World Cup final.[170] The IAAF World Championships in Athletics was held in the Olympiastadion in 2009.[171]

The annual Berlin Marathon—a course that holds the most Top 10 world record runs—and the ISTAF are well-established athletic events in the city.[172] The FIVB World Tour, a beach volleyball Grand Slam event, is presented at an inner-city site every year, while the Mellowpark in Köpenick is one of the biggest skate and BMX parks in Europe.[173]

A Fan Fest at Brandenburg Gate, which attracts several hundred-thousand spectators, has become popular during international football competitions, like the UEFA European Championship.[174]

In 2013 around 600.000 Berliners were registered in one of the more than 2.300 sports- and fitness clubs.[175] Several professional clubs representing the most important spectator team sports in Germany have their base in Berlin:

Club Sport Founded League Venue Head Coach
Hertha BSC[176] Football 1892 Bundesliga Olympiastadion P. Dárdai
1. FC Union Berlin[177] Football 1966 2. Bundesliga Stadion An der Alten Försterei N. Düwel
ALBA Berlin[178] Basketball 1991 BBL O2 World S. Obradovic
Eisbären Berlin[179] Ice hockey 1954 DEL O2 World U. Krupp
Füchse Berlin[180] Handball 1891 HBL Max-Schmeling-Halle D. Sigurdsson

See also


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External links

Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Berlin.