Day 13 Berlin : A World Class City for Museums


We couldn't have asked for a nicer day in Berlin today. The sun was out, the temperature was in the 70's, and with low humidity it was a great day for exploring.

Near our hotel are some interesting alleys leading to courtyards with wonderful stores tucked within the walls.  In the former East Berlin the crossing lights showed a red man standing with his arms out at his sides for stop and a green man wearing a hat who is walking for go.  Known as Ampelmann, it is now so popular that many of the new crossing lights show Ampelmann and there are entire stores dedicated to him that sell everything from  sweatshirts to cookie cutters.



Today was a day for museums. The Neues Museum was constructed in the mid 1800's. The building suffered severe damage during WW11 and after being closed for 70 years, reopened in  2009. We saw a magnificent Egyptian exhibit of artifacts. I was really struck by how beautifully everything was displayed. Each case looked like a treasure chest with tiny lights to provide perfect illumination.  The highlight was the world famous bust of Queen Nefertiti placed in a room under a dome. It was exquisite.


Next door is the Pergamonmuseum. What was inside was astounding.  The main attraction is the Pergamon Altar (180-160 BCE).



 Next was the Market Gate of Miletus from the 2nd century CE.


 The third  incredible exhibit was the colorful Ishtar Gate and processional way from Babylon dating back to the 6th century BCE.  It was massive and reached high into a room purposely built for it.  Beside the room was a long processional wall with lions.


We also visited a Mesopotamian exhibit with cuneiform  tablets. I loved this exhibit because we have taught about Ancient Mesopotamia at school.

In the evening we visited an unusual laundromat.  It had state of the art Miele machines, but to operate them required knowledge of an elaborate central computerized control panel that no one  could figure out so the two owners were in perpetual motion helping everyone.  When our wash was about done, I noticed what appeared to be a Kleenex in the machine, but upon closer inspection, to my horror I realized it was one of two ceramic dogs I had bought in Denmark and had wrapped in a shirt to protect. It was smashed.   When it was time to dry the clothes, many young people from a local hostel appeared and became very impatient for a dryer. The whole scene reminded me of college dorm days. When I saw someone eyeing my dryer, I indicated to him I still had 6 minutes to finish drying one last shirt, but he would have none of it and the dryer was quickly flung open and the shirt thrust at me!

Dinner tonight was by candlelight in the courtyard of our hotel.  We have had a wonderful time in Berlin and hope to return here soon. Tomorrow we head to Croatia!


Susan Erickson said…
The museums sound amazing. I would have loved seeing all of the ancient artifacts. The laundromat experience also sounds like an adventure. Sorry that you lost your ceramic dogs.

CoachSparky said…
That must have been really neat to see the Egyptian and Mesopotamian exhibits after teaching those subjects at school. Incredible museums-- I am surprised you were able to take all of those pictures inside! Sorry about your ceramic dog:(

I love the Ampelmann character! Intrigued, I researched some fun facts:

1. Ampelmann is one of the few features of communist East Germany to have survived the end of the Iron Curtain with his popularity unscathed.

2. 1961-- developed by traffic psychologist Karl Peglau to improve upon two problems he found with the former traffic lights-- 10% of the population could not differentiate between the standard colors of red, yellow, green and the lights were too small and too weak when competing against luminous advertising and sunlight.

3. 1980s--Ampelmann was so popular that parents and teachers initiated the symbol to become part of road safety education for kids.

4. East German Ministry of Interior had the idea to bring the two traffic figures to life. They appeared in strip cartoons and animated cartoons. The red one appeared in dangerous moments and the green one was an advisor.

5. Ampelmann has appeared in games and radio broadcasts.
Explorer Bear said…
Hi Beth and Susan!
You both would have loved the museums here plus ampelmann too. Those are cool facts you found out!

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