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The Berliner Dom and Berlin’s Free Walking Tour

Posted by on June 2, 2011

I’d determined that I really wanted to do the Berlin Walking tour. I also had a couple more things I wanted to check off, and I was running out of time. I was up early and did a walk, exploring Museum Island – now a Unesco Heritage Site.

The Berlin Cathedral (Berliner Dom)

The Berlin Cathedral (Berliner Dom)


From there I went to the Berliner Dom – the magnificent cathedral built at the turn of the 19th/20th century between the Museum Island and Alexanderplatz. I expected to only spend a few minutes here, but after briefly walking around the interior, I found I was trapped in an actual service – the side doors had been locked to prevent more tourists wandering through, and I’d merely been sitting in the pews taking it in. As I had a tour to get to I mumbled my apologies to the person on the main door who’d clearly seen it all happen before, and headed down to the crypt, where over 80 sarcophagi of Prussian royals are buried – the most impressive of which are the tombs of Frederick I and his queen, Sophie Charlotte. I always find it quite amazing that huge names in history are just lying together down in places like this, or St Paul’s in London, or Westminster Abbey for that matter.
Looking down on Berlin from the Dom's roof

Looking down on Berlin from the Dom's roof


I then convinced myself that yes it was worth going upstairs as well – even if it was just to see the scale models they’d made of the design. It was then that I noticed the stairs going even further up, and unlike so many tourist spots, there were no ‘closed/no access signs’. I followed them, and after over 300 steps including some ladders I found I was outside at the top of the Dom. With a fantastic view all around I had to spend some time up there lining up some photos and taking it in, before realising that I had 20 minutes to get to the Brandenburg Gate for my walking tour.
The Memorial to the Murdered Jews in Europe

The Memorial to the Murdered Jews in Europe


Down the stairs at pace and jogging the half km or so to Alexanderplatz, combined with the heat, I was looking pretty ragged by the time I hopped on the train and zipped around the network to the Brandenburg Tor station. Conveniently the tour is right outside, and I arrived with a minute to spare.
Part of the Berlin Wall remains

Part of the Berlin Wall remains


Sandeman Tours helps run the Berlin Free Walking Tours – and once we’d been separated by languages, our guide was Sam, and he was from England. Studying his Masters in History in Berlin, he was in his element and could clearly talk for hours on most of the tour material – and yet was never boring. From the Brandenburg Tor to Hitler’s bunker (now a kids’ play pit marks the site), the Memorial to the Murdered Jews in Europe (abstract artwork covering an entire block, has giant blocks which grow taller as you follow the sloping ground to the center) and Checkpoint Charlie, to the history of the Opera House, University buildings and various other Berlin Landmarks, he kept the group interested and not overwhelmed, and finished just in time, for a storm was looking like brewing.
The Trabant on top - East Berlin made

The Trabant on top - East Berlin made


Some people were staying for drinks, but I had to high-tail it as the train I wanted was leaving just after 8pm. I headed back to the hostel, grabbed my gear and made my way back to the Hauptbahnhof, where I made sure my pass would actually be valid, and hopped on a train towards Poland…

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One Response to The Berliner Dom and Berlin’s Free Walking Tour

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