James and Allanah recently went on holiday to Berlin from where they send this ‘postcard’
This August James and I went to Berlin to celebrate both James 30th birthday and our 1st wedding anniversary (hoorah!). We spent 3 days and 4 nights in this wonderful city and were pleasantly surprised by the relaxed pace of life, abundance of green spaces, and all the free attractions to see!
Of the many tourist sites to see we visited the East Side Gallery, an art gallery made out of the remnants of the Berlin Wall, Topography of Terror; the site of an old Gestapo prison, now a museum about Nazi rule, Checkpoint Charlie; perhaps the most famous site in Berlin and the best-known Berlin Wall crossing point between East Berlin and West Berlin during the Cold War, the Jewish Museum; an artistic display of the history of Jews and Anti-Semitism in Europe, the DDR Museum; right along the River Spree and which gave an insight into life in East Germany, The Palace of Tears; another good insight into the Cold War, and the Brandenburg Gate; built on the site of a former city gate and beautiful when lit up at night.
Finally, we visited the Berlin Cathedral. A beautiful building which we were able to climb to the top of, we were astounded by its grandeur and gold fittings, as well as the large crypt beneath it. The cathedral itself has an interesting history, having been converted to a parish church from it’s beginnings as the personal chapel of Fredrich II, ruler of the Brandenburg Empire. From it’s humble beginnings, the cathedral has undergone a series of renovations (both physical and theological!) as well as relocations over the course of it’s history. As the ideas of Martin Luther spread across Germany and the rest of the Christian world, the cathedral became Lutheran when Joachim II broke ties with Rome and adopted Lutheranism as Germany’s state religion. The cathedral was also, for a time, Berlin’s first and only Calvinist church in the 1600s as Germany’s then Prince-Elector converted to Calvinism, but did not ask the same of his subjects. Today, the church is part of the United Prussian church, with the wedding church and baptistery having been reopened for services in the 1980s.
The church in East Berlin played a pivotal role in the fall of the Berlin wall and the reunification of the city, with prayer groups protecting dissenters who wished to see the fall of the authoritarian and oppressive DDR regime and freedom for the people.