Berlin: Potsdamer Platz, Center for Shoppers and Movie Fans

Potsdamer Platz, rebuilt after WW II and now brimming with cutting-edge architecture. Venue of Berlin International Film Festival and a Mecca for shoppers. Come and see the cutting-edge architecture of Potsdamer Platz, also if you aren't visiting the Berlin International Film Festival. It is hard to believe that twenty years ago this square was desolate wasteland.

Today DaimlerCity, Sony Center and Beisheim Center showcase modern architecture. Take Europe’s fastest elevator to the 24th and 25th floor of the Kollhoff Tower for a panorama view of futuristic architecture on Potsdamer Platz.

Look down at the dome of the Sony Center and see if you agree that it is modeled after Mount Fuji, Japan. Join the shoppers in Potsdamer Platz Arkaden, a three-storey shoppers' paradise for all budgets - H&M, Mango, Mexx, Zara, Esprit, Tommy Hilfiger, Swarovski and many more. When shopping has made you hungry, watch the world go by in the Wiener Cafe. Indulge in apple strudel washed down by a Wiener Coffee, similar to cappuccino but served with a big dollop of whipped cream.

Potsdamer Platz Early 20th Century: Vibrant and Full of Life
Before the Second World War, Potsdamer Platz pulsed with life day and night. State-of-the-art hotels, beckoning neon lights and bars full of atmosphere attracted pleasure seekers. Restaurants and cafés hummed with activity. Trams trundled across and cars whooshed past. The intersection was a bustling traffic hub. It was so hectic that Europe’s first traffic lights were installed here, hand-operated. But the Allies dropped their bombs, flattening Potsdamer Platz and most of Berlin.

Potsdamer Platz Mid-20th Century: A Divided Square
After the war, Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin sliced Berlin into four zones controlled by Britain, USA, USSR and France. The Western controlled zones became part of the Federal Republic of Germany. The Soviet Zone became the capital of the German Democratic Republic. Trams no longer clanged their way from east to west. The two parts developed separately. The gap between east and west widened and hundreds of thousands of East Berliners escaped to the west.

Potsdamer Platz Late 20th Century: Deserted Wasteland
Potsdamer Platz turned into a wasteland, a no-man’s land. East Berliners shifted their city center to Alexanderplatz and West Berliners went to Kurfürstendamm. On 13 August 1961, The Berlin Wall went up, running across Potsdamer Platz. The Wall was 184 kilometers long and interspersed with 260 watch towers. On the eastern side, the German Democratic Republic’s side of the wall houses were demolished and the terrain flattened so that border guards could sport and fire at defectors. On the western side viewing platforms were erected that allowed a peek at this no-man’s land. Towers and wall were torn down in 1989, one lone watch tower remained in Erna Berger Strasse, off Potsdamer Platz.

Potsdamer Platz 21st Century: Showcase of Modern Architecture
Today, Potsdamer Platz’s striking architecture makes for spectacular sightseeing. DaimlerCity, Sony Center, Bleisheim Center and Three-storey Potsdamer Platz Arkaden bustle with shoppers, tourists, diners, cinema fans and locals. Elbow your way through Potsdamer Platz Arkaden, an indoor mall packed with shops selling everything from digital cameras to tube dresses. The basement brims with fast-food outlets. Listen to the hum of the espresso machine at Tschibo, enjoy a cappuccino while you rest your weary feet. A scoop of Häagen-Dazs ice cream is the perfect calorie bomb, but will give you energy for more shopping.

Within circular DaimlerCity is a smaller shopping mall and a gallery where Daimler Chrysler Company exhibits a selection of abstract and minimalist art from its collection. Daimler also sponsors street art dotted in the area. Check out The Riding Bikes at Fontane Platz, The Boxers in Eichhornstrasse or Gelandet in Schellingstrasse.

Sony Center is a jolt to the senses. With 26 floors of glass and steel, it is the highest building on Potsdamer Platz. Its glass-roofed central plaza is a feast of changing colours during the after dark light show. The plaza brims with cafés, beer gardens and restaurants and is a hangout for people-watchers and beer drinkers. Come here in February to watch celebrities sashay down the red carpet on their way to Theater am Potsdamer Platz, the venue of the Berlin Film Festival.

A swift lift whisks you up to the Panorama Platform on 24 and 25th floor of Kollhof Tower. The breathtaking view of Potsdamer Platz stretches in front, nineteen cutting edge buildings, ten avenues and two squares. This ultra modern district was built in less than five years. Over 70,000 visitors come to see Potsdamerplatz every day. Learn about the past and the present while walking around the exhibition that is spread over two floors. Illuminated panels lead you through the history of Potsdamer Platz. There is a world of difference between the pre-war and post-war Potsdamer Platz. The new Potsdamer Platz is as much a crowd puller for shoppers and movie fans as was the old Platz.

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