Many tourists who visit Berlin find their perceptions of the city’s history dominated by the legacy of the Cold War. Not only does the famous Berlin Wall hold a still sizeable presence, its remains snake through the city; the vast rows of East German apartment blocks dominate much of the view from atop the Fernsehturm, or television tower, near the Alexanderplatz, giving it a modern feeling.
This rather recent historical frame of vision, by contrast to one’s experience of many other European cities, is a consequence of the immense destruction the city witnessed during World War II. But this perception risks obscuring the fact that Berlin is a very old city. This month, the German capital will celebrate its 775th anniversary.
Because so little of medieval Berlin survives, much of the official celebration will take place in the Church of St. Nicholas, originally built in the thirteenth century and recently rebuilt as a museum and concert hall. The city’s other major museums will also hold celebrations, making it a spectacular time to visit this fascinating metropolis.
About the author: Leib Tropper is a rabbi at Kol Yaakov Yeshiva and Torah Center in Monsey, New York. He is involved in Character First, a program which hopes to promote the importance of developing good character among students and young adults.