Photo Friday: Berlin

Copyright JC Politi Photograpy
Border between East and West Berlin, where the Berlin Wall used to stand. Most of it is torn down now.

After leaving the quaint, but bustling Amsterdam, we took an overnight train to Berlin. We stayed in East Berlin, just down the street from Alexanderplatz, which was really the heart of East Berlin.

After all of the beauty of France, Spain and Holland, East Berlin was striking for its lack of decoration. It was a fascinating place to visit for its history, but the sadness and anger were palpable.

From what we observed, the division between East and West Berlin still exists to this day. We spent the vast majority of our time in East Berlin, going to what we were told was the trendiest neighborhood for dinner and visiting the historic sites.

But it is striking to stand where the wall used to stand and to look to the East and to the West. The East is full of cranes and development, but I couldn’t help feeling that the West kept moving forward while the East was stuck in time.

Copyright JC Politi Photography
Construction in East Berlin

East Berlin feels like a savagely damaged city, just now showing signs of rebirth. The evidence is everywhere, showing a city devastated by war, and then severely restricted and terrorized during the Communist occupation. It is simply tragic.

There is a solemn beauty to the city, however, even in the midst of the melancholy. I share some of my favorite photos here.

For those who would like to read more of the history of Berlin, this 1963 speech by President John F. Kennedy is a powerful denunciation of the communist occupation. When you visit Berlin, you understand this speech much more.

What do you think? Have you been to Berlin? What was your impression? Do you think that East and West Berlin will ever truly integrate? What kind of impact do you think a history like this would have on a culture?

I would love to hear your thoughts. Thank you for reading!

Copyright JC Politi Photography
This has to be one of my favorite photos from the whole trip! I snapped this shot at a metro stop.

Copyright JC Politi Photography
A watchtower over Checkpoint Charlie

Copyright JC Politi Photography
The view from our hotel. You can see the Soviet TV Tower in East Berlin and the tall hotel in West Berlin. The hotel staff told us this was done intentionally by West Berlin to show their strength and contrast.

Copyright JC Politi Photography
An old car in East Berlin

Copyright JC Politi Photography
A powerful holocaust memorial

Copyright JC Politi Photography
A pretzel seller

Copyright JC Politi Photography
Berlin Cathedral

Copyright JC Politi Photography
Chairs in an historic East Berlin Cafe

Copyright JC Politi Photography
You can see the bullet holes in the old buildings


Copyright JC Politi Photography
Checkpoint Charlie now





Filed under Culture, Economy, History, International, Photography, Photos, Politcs, Privatization, Role of Government, social pressures, Stereotypes, Terrorism, travel, Uncategorized, violence, War

40 responses to “Photo Friday: Berlin

  1. the photos are like a step back in time…until the last one and it made me incredibly sad. My first thought was that it looked like something an american would do, turn such a piece of history into a take away food place…but maybe in the long run, it’s a good thing. I’ve never been, but I would love to. Thanks for sharing.

    • Hi Rhonda! Thanks for checking it out. It is a fascinating place, that is for sure. It is always interesting to see the places where history comes to life! Thanks so much for reading and for the comment!

      • History coming to life is such a good way of putting it. I’m so glad to be able to follow some of that history through you…it’s wonderous to say the least.

  2. Great photos. They really are worth a thousand words! I especially like the sign at Checkpoint Charley: Berlin Loves You. I assume that is West Berlin??

  3. Fabulous. Love the Bag photo too. Did you buy one?

  4. Dear Jenni,
    Wow. These pictures were AMAZING. The lady with the bag? hahahhaaa!!!!! My personal favorite as well!!!!
    What a trip lady! WHAT a trip!
    Love, Lis

  5. Berlin is a magnificent city and your photos do her great justice. I think you described her perfectly by saying there is a solemn beauty to the city. Nicely put.

  6. What do I think Jenni? We are banging around here from 7am to 7pm. While you are on Fantasy Island. Hmmmmm. Need more?

    • Ha!! Yes, indeed I need more. I’m ready to go back to Fantasy Island. I hope to become a frequent flier! 😉 Thanks so much for the comment!

    • Reblogged this on and commented:I aboulstely love every photo ❤ Berlin is one of my fave cities, and this blog (if you have the time check every photo out) satisfies my longing.

    • You’re quite welcome! I think some of the best phrgotoaphy out there are the photos that are totally off-the-cuff without worrying about the editing. Snow is really very lovely when it first falls. There’s a mountain just up the street from us that is exquisite when it snows and it’s a shame how quickly the beauty fades when the snow starts to melt.

  7. Your pictures are fantastic – I look forward to your ‘travel logs’ so much!

  8. Berlin is one of my favorite cities … in the world – fantastic city – has everything – friendly service minded and clean. Personal I think Germany has done a fantastic job with rebuilding their capital city – consider the state it was in. It’s a young city – vibrant, exciting and what I like is that the old Berlin stands side by the modern Berlin and they fit perfectly together. Great food, fantastic shopping, great beer and wines …. Only one thing that upset me about Berlin, was the cheap circus they have made of “Check Point Charlie” – tacky and respect less for what that once stood for. Stayed in “East Berlin” too. A city that has a massive culture offer – for me Berlin … is Europe in one city.

    • Love you photos, totally forgotten about that …. I think East and West as melted well together, even if they have a lot more to do.

      • I just deleted your wonderful comment by mistake with my phone!!!! I’ll have to see if I can get it back. I loved your insightful comment! You are so right. Berlin is a fascinating city, where old meets new. I can tell how much you appreciate the city and am so glad I could remind you! 🙂 Thanks so much for your comment!

  9. It was 1989, a few months earlier the Berlin Wall had been breached. as we approached Checkpoint Charlie the guards were just lounging around, no one bothered to check us, we even took photos, absolutely unheard of a few months earlier and it would’ve taken 2-3 hours to be “processed” as you went from east to west. Later we walked to the wall and watched as locals were hacking pieces of it out and selling it to tourists, I bought a small piece with some graffitti on it. The contrast between East and West was appalling. Large parts of the East was still a bomb site and the attitude of the young males was aggressive. I’m pleased to see from your photos that it has changed so much, but still retained the old historic buildings on the eastern side (even the old cars) I think Checkpoint Charlie should be a memorial to all those that were killed trying to reach the west.

  10. the Jotter's Joint

    Your descriptions will stay with me far longer than your beautiful pictures (the bag is my fave). These words paint pictures:
    …striking for its lack of decoration…
    …sadness and anger were palpable…
    …stuck in time…
    …savagely damaged, just now showing signs of rebirth…
    …solemn beauty…in the midst of melancholy…
    Thanks for sharing.

    • Thank you!!!! That really means a lot. It is a very powerful place. I hope I did it some justice. And you KNOW I loved that bag!! 😉 Thanks so much for stopping by and taking time to comment!

  11. I’ve never been to Berlin, so I appreciate your photos. I was surprised to read that so little progress has been made since the wall came down, but I suppose the town’s finances had a lot to do with what didn’t get constructed in the past 28 years. The one photo of the Soviet TV tower and the West Berlin Hotel sure shows the contrasts between the 2 halves of the city. While the west was bright and bustling, the east was dark and depressing. How sad it is to feel that the old oppression hasn’t really left.

    • Thanks so much for the comment. In some ways I think East Berlin is like a forest after a fire. Severely damaged, but with signs of Spring in some of the most unexpected spots. Such an intriguing place. Thanks again for your comment!

  12. Fabulous photos and description. I have never been anywhere where the history is so loud. It makes me want to travel even more!

  13. Wow, I went to Berlin in 1989 the year the wall came down, your photo’s brought back memories of a time long past. However, it does seem sad that East hasn’t changed as much. I would of hoped that the west had taken the east to their hearts and helped them build a fresh start, but maybe, enough time hasn’t passed. I’m hoping to visit Berlin this Christmas for the Xmas markets and was hoping to visit check point Charlie, what a shame that more wasn’t made of this point due to its History and what it stood for. Hope you enjoy the rest of your journey, thank you for sharing.

    • I’m jealous! I would love to go for the Christmas markets!! Hopefully some day. I do see a lot of hope that the East and West will be more integrated with time – I suppose it just takes time to heal. Thanks so much for the comment!

  14. I would love to visit. For now, thanks for the tiny glimpse through your striking images.

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