Hello! Today I’d like to share some thoughts about the city to be: Berlin. The pictures you will see were taken during the years so they belong to several visits I spent to the city.
The first time I went to Berlin was three years ago. I was staying in Frankfurt for one month, doing research for my Dissertation. A friend came to visit me and we decided to take a train and see Berlin, the city everybody talks about. Once there, after a very long journey, the first thing which struck me was the U-bahn: this omnipresent yellow train which, like the veins in a body, connects the city in all its vital points. It should be U-Bahn, Untergrundbahn, but I had the impression that the trains are “overground” much of the time, offering scenes like this:
Before going to Berlin, I never paid too much attention or actually cared about subway stations. They’re just a transit point. But when you’re in Berlin, you can get off the train, turn around and distractedly see a scene like this.
There are surely other cities in which the subway is more beautiful, better organized and so on. But with Berlin I actually see a special connection between the city and its transport system.
The second thing which came to my eye was the people: this overcoming people flow moving, chatting, running, staring at their phones while walking.
If you pay attention, you can hear a polyphonic voice which speaks German in thousands of different accent, you can hear languages you can hardly recognize because sometimes they’re even dialects. The question which my friend and I asked myself was: what’s the reason so many people come to Berlin and stay? What does take them here? We were there only for a couple of days. We were not able to answer the question. But somehow, we both felt changed.
I went to Berlin many times since then: living in Leipzig and being my Heimat Sicily, I often have to fly from Berlin. So I usually go one day before my flight and visit one part of the city which I don’t know or walk along monuments I have already seen, like the Berliner Dom.
Being Italian, I am quite critical about cathedrals and churches in general. But this one, its being in the middle of such an urban jungle over a river… the whole picture… it’s just inspiring.
For much of the people coming to Berlin, the city means this:
Which in a way is so, but what I like about this city is its capacity of renovation. Alexanderplatz, for example, was already famous thanks to the novel Berlin Alexanderplatz by Alfred Döblin in 1929. Today the square would be unthinkable without the Fernsehturm, which came during the DDr in 1969. Or think about the Siegssäule, the Victory Column, and the new importance it received after the movie Wings of Desire by Wim Wenders.
For me Berlin is History: I don’t think there is another city in Europe which can be tell such a story. A city which saw for example the rise of a dictatorship, which we all know the consequences of its insanity…
The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe is a simple monument: blocks of cement, which looks like impersonal tombs. It’s simple but really, really effective. 40 minutes away from the city (S-Bahn line 1) you can also visit Sachsenhausen, a nazi concentration camp.
What I really can get is how this city can change itself in a few kilometres. Everyone who comes to Berlin is struck, in a good or bad way: One expects from a capital city beautiful and majestic monuments. Berlin has them too, but Berlin it’s not that. This city won’t leave you indifferent.
Berlin is for me the city in which the old and the new live together, offering a melting pot which is unique in his only peculiar way.
It’s a city which has a particular relationship with books: books burned in Bebelplatz, books prohibited in the DDR…
For me Berlin is the city of the artists, the city where one feels really alive, where you can contribute to build a city which, although divided by a wall of hate and violence only 26 years ago, it’s expanding and flourishing more than ever and one, even in a few days, has the sensation of being a part of it.