Berlin Museum Island and the TV Tower
|Museum Island (Museuminsel)
|Pergamon Museum In the 19th century, German archaeologists rediscovered classical antiquities. They carted all this stuff back to Germany, and the Pergamon Museum was built especially for these big pieces. Kids may be surprised to find themselves at gate of Babylon in this Berlin museum.
|As you enter the museum, the first room is filled with the sculpted friezes from the Pergamon Altar. Check out the model that shows what the Hellenistic town of Pergamon looked like in the 2nd century BC. The friezes are quite lively, with battle scenes, writhing bodies, goddesses in flowing garments whacking along with the best of them. (The audio tour has all the details of each scene.)
|Even more impressive is the Ishtar Gate of Babylon, constructed during the time of Nebuchadnezzar II, 6th century BC. The full-size reconstructed gate is covered with bright blue, yellow and white glazed bricks, decorated with mythical dragons and long horned bulls. An excellent model shows how the whole thing looked the Procession Way lined with crennellated towers, leading up to the Ishtar Gate, followed by an even bigger gate. The wall from Nebuchadnezzar's throne room has lovely roaring lions and yellow and white daisies.
|Upstairs, check out the Aleppo (Syria) merchant's house every inch of the walls are covered in red, yellow and blue designs, garlands of flowers and birds in interlocking patterns. You might want to consider re-doing the kid's room in this style.
|The audio tour for the Pergamon is excellent and free you can go at your own pace and listen to explanations in any order.
Neues Museum (New Museum) Make a beeline to the Egyptian collection to see exquisite head of Nefertiti and other Egyptian artifacts, such as a amazing papyrus, mummified crocodile, sculpture of the Egyptian cat god Bastet, family reliefs of the pharaohs.
|Also don't miss the collection of pre-historic artifacts from Europe, including a Neanderthal skull, Bronze Age "Gold Hat" and awesome gold jewelry from the ancient city of Troy in Turkey.
Altes Museum (Old Museum) The Altes Museum is home to Greek and Roman antiquities. Check out the impressive "green Caesar," an incredibly realistic bust of Julius Caesar, carved in green slate.
|Tip: All the museums on Museum Island are free with the Berlin Pass, and no waiting in lines.
|Berliner Dom You can't miss this massive cathedral, topped by an overlarge green copper dome. Inside, there's a gorgeous pipe organ, and off to one side, the black and gold crypts of King Friedrich I and his wife Queen Sophie Charlotte. The best thing to do is to climb up the dome it's fine for little kids and even the vertigo-challenged. At the top, you can go outside for a fine view of Berlin in every direction. On the way up, don't miss models of what the Dom looked like originally in the 18th century.
|Tip: Berliner Dom is free with the Berlin Pass.
|Take a boat ride Take a one hour boat ride on the Spree River. You can pick up the boats at the Scholssbrucke, near the Berliner Dom. On the Wassertaxi ride, the commentary is in German, but quite humorous a new expensive government building is described as "the washing machine."
|Parks Tired of churches and museums? You can walk south along the Spree Canal (west side of Museum Island) to the end of Fischer Island to a small park with benches. Along the way, there are ducks and swans and a small raising bridge. Or, go east over the Spree River to Monbijou Park which has a large play area with climbing structures, a kid's wading pool and swimming pool (bring your suits).
|Fernsehturm TV Tower To get an overview of Berlin, take an elevator ride up to the top of the 60ties-style TV tower. The Fernsehturm tower, 1,198ft. high, has a speedy revolving restaurant on top (cafe has wonderful hot chocolate). Somebody keeps the windows spotlessly clean, so you have marvelous views in all weather. From the tower, Berlin looks like the ultimate miniature city, constantly in motion.
|In front of the Fernsehturm, there's a big plaza with the Neptune fountain (Neptunbrunnen), with Neptune brandishing his triton and other creatures spraying him with water. More fun for little kids, there's a stepped fountain, where toddlers can dabble their toes on warm day and grassy areas to run around.
|Marienkirche From the Fernsehturm, you look down over Berlin's oldest church, St. Mary's Church. Back on the ground, visit this Gothic red brick church, with the original 13th century nave, lovely carving and gilt-work in the interior.
|World Clock (Alexanderplatz) In Alexanderplatz, check out the world time clock, see what time it is in 140+ cities around the world.