5 Best Photo Opportunities in Berlin
Lee Van Grack
1. The Romantic Photo: Tiergarten & Siegessäule
The Tiergarten park is one of the best photo opportunities Berlin offers, with its leafy garden landscapes, hidden statues and secretive wildlife. On summer afternoons, there's nothing better than pulling out a picnic rug and a bottle of Sekt (German sparkling wine) and finding a secluded grassy spot for a romantic picnic in the dappled afternoon sunlight.
In the late afternoon, stroll down to the Siegessäule – the Victory Column – located at the Grosser Stern roundabout in the middle of the Tiergarten. Atop the column stands a bronze-winged statue of Victoria – the Roman goddess of victory. The best time to shoot is around dusk, when Victoria's wings reflect the sunset. The statue was made famous in Wim Wenders' atmospheric film Wings of Desire, in which the angels watch over Berlin from Victoria's shoulders. Climb the internal staircase for an angel's view of the park.
Corner of Straße des 17. Juni & Ebertstraße
Daily 24 hours
Grosser Stern, at Straße des 17. Juni & Altonaer Straße
2. The Quirky Photo: Tacheles
Get in touch with your inner anarchist and head over to Tacheles – one of the city's last remaining squats – for one of the best photo ops in Berlin. This former department store was abandoned, and after the Berlin Wall came down, it was squatted in by artists and activists who saved it from demolition in the early 1990s. From across the street, take a picture of the crumbling façade, then head inside to catch the graffiti-covered stairwell and the artists in action in their studios. On the ground floor, head out the back to a sprawling courtyard of bars and more artworks. Take your photograph beside a huge metal horse, charging bull or post-apocalyptic shapes in the metal sculpture garden.
The artistic and alternative communities living in Tacheles are under threat of eviction, so take the opportunity to capture one of Berlin's left-of-center icons while you still can.
Oranienburger Straße 54-56A
Free during the day; admission for special events varies
3. The Fun Family Photo: East Side Gallery
For a photo opportunity that captures a slice of Berlin history, head for the longest remaining stretch of the Berlin Wall, which runs parallel to the river Spree along Mühlenstraße.
After years of falling into disrepair, the East Side Gallery, an open-air memorial to freedom, was restored to its full, colorful glory in 2009. It's a must for the Berlin travel photography collection, and is an interesting way to explain some of Berlin's history to the kids. There are over 100 paintings by international artists. Some are surreal, others satirical. There are political statements and declarations of hope, and even a Trabi (East German car) crashing out of the wall.
East Side Gallery
Mühlenstraße (near Oberbaumbrücke)
Daily 24 hours
4. The Scenic Photo: Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church
No trip to Berlin would be complete without a photograph of the broken spire of the Protestant Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church. Rising out of the heart of West Berlin's shopping district at Breitscheidplatz, in Charlottenburg, is the partially destroyed spire of the church. Built in the 1890s, it was badly damaged during World War II. Next to the broken spire stands a modern belfry, designed by Egon Eiermann and built from 1959 to 1963. During these renovations, the broken spire was going to be torn down, but was saved after public outcry.
This is another one of the best photo ops in Berlin – and not only from the war-ravaged outside, but inside, too. The walls feature more than 21,000 panes of stained glass, the work of French artist Gabriel Loire. The church's name in German is Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche.
Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church
+49 (0)30 218 50 23
Church: Daily 9AM-7PM; Services: Sun 10AM, 6PM
5. The Classic Photo: Brandenburg Gate
For classic Berlin travel photography, head straight for the Brandenburg Gate at Pariser Platz. While it looks good at any time, it's particularly impressive at night – but you'll need steady hands for a photograph without using a flash. Atop the impressive stone columns rides Victoria, the Roman goddess of victory, on a chariot drawn by four horses. The statue is known as the Quadriga.
The Brandenburg Gate is one of the city's most iconic symbols and is one of the top photo opportunities Berlin visitors snap up. If you're into kitsch tourism shots, then take advantage of one of the actors dressed as Allied soldiers standing in front of the gate during the day, complete with uniforms and flags.
- Overview: Berlin Travel Guide