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City-state Berlin

Berlin is the capital city and one of the sixteen states of the Federal Republic of Germany. It lies 110-160m feet above sea-level and has a population of 3,766,082 million (June 2021) in its city limits, Berlin is the country's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the eighth most populous urban area in Europe[1].

Located in central Germany, it is the centre of the Berlin-Brandenburg metropolitan area, comprising 4.9 million people and to some extent is multi-national.


Coat of arms of Berlin 1709 (left) and today
Heroes' Remembrance Day (Heldengedenktag), Berlin 1940, the state ceremony in the atrium of the Arsenal (Zeughaus). The Führer at his commemorative speech.
Public viewing in Berlin (Straße des 17. Juni) on 16 June 2014 as Germany defeats Portugal 4:0 during the FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

First documented in the 13th century, Berlin was successively the capital of the Kingdom of Prussia (1701-1918), the German Empire (1871-1918), the Weimar Republic (1919-1933), the Third Reich (1933-1945) and the FRG (Bonn from 1949 until 1990).

About 1904 it may be said that Berlin was at its European and State climax. It was the residence of the King-Emperor, seat of the Imperial and Prussian Governments and had 2,500,000 inhabitants, and at the time was the third largest city in Europe. The handsomest and busiest part of Berlin was the long street extending from the Brandenburg Gate to the Royal Palace, named the Unter den Linden (198 feet wide), passing the Paris place, the Opera place, and the Arsenal place. It is almost a mile long.[2] The city contained a mass of ancient, old and magnificent architecture.

During World War II the British Royal Air Force and, later, the American USAAF, bombed Berlin continuously with high explosives totalling more than twice the amount of the Nagasaki atom bomb.[3] The result was the murder of tens of thousands of civilians and the almost complete destruction of the city centre and surrounding areas of what was previously called "The Athens on the Spree"[4] because of its magnificent buildings and architecture. During Germany's occupation by the victorious Allies (including the Soviet Union, the city was divided; West Berlin became a de facto West German exclave, subsequently surrounded by the Berlin Wall (1961–1989) and East German territory. East Berlin was declared capital of East Germany (DDR), while Bonn became the West German capital.

Following German reunification in 1990, Berlin once again became the capital of all Germany excepting the eastern provinces which remained under occupation by Poland and Russia.

Greater Berlin

Berlin had been part of the Province of Brandenburg since 1815. On 1 April 1881, the city became Stadtkreis Berlin, a city district.[5] Berlin left the Brandenburg Provincial Association (Provinzialverband Brandenburg) and received provincial-like rights, but without completely leaving the province. In 1905, the city district had a population of 2,040,148 citizens. The Greater Berlin Act was passed by the Prussian Parliament on 27 April 1920 and came into effect on 1 October of the same year. The new Prussian province, then termed "Greater Berlin" (German: Groß-Berlin), acquired territories from the Province of Brandenburg and consisted of the following: The city of Berlin (Alt-Berlin), city districts surrounding Berlin (Stadtkreis Berlin-Lichtenberg, Stadtkreis Berlin-Schöneberg, Stadtkreis Berlin-Wilmersdorf, Stadtkreis Charlottenburg, Stadtkreis Neukölln, Stadtkreis Spandau, but also the Stadtgemeinde Cöpenick), 59 rural communities (Landgemeinden) and 27 estate districts (Gutsbezirke) from the surrounding districts of Niederbarnim, Osthavelland and Teltow and the grounds of the Berliner Stadtschloß, which had curiously formed an estate district in its own right.

When it was founded on 1 October 1920, now truely independent from the Province of Brandenburg, Greater Berlin was the most populous community in the world after London and New York with 3.8 million inhabitants and, with 878 km², the most extensive community in the world after Los Angeles. As a result, the population rose again by around a sixth by the end of 1942, reaching a peak of almost 4.5 million.


Berlin is again a major centre in European politics, culture, media, and science. It serves as a continental hub for air and rail transport. The city's economy is primarily based on the service sector, encompassing a diverse range of creative industries, media corporations, environmental services, congress and convention venues. Berlin is the third most-visited tourist destination in the EU. Other industries include traffic engineering, optoelectronics, IT, vehicle manufacturing, health care, biomedical engineering, and biotechnology.


The following includes buildings of significance before World War II of which some survived, although damaged, and were restored in the 50 years after that catastrophe.

  • Brandenburg Gate, known world-wide as a symbol of the city was erected in 1789-93 by C. G. Langhans in imitation of the Propylaea at Athens. It is surmounted by a Quadriga of Victory in copper by the sculptor Schadow.
  • The Palace of Count Redern, on the Pariser-Platz, rebuilt by Schinkel in 1833 in the Florentine style. (Destroyed by bombing)
  • The Schloss-Brucke (Palace bridge) is at the end of the Unter-den-Linden and was constructed in 1822-24 from designs by Schinkel. It is adorned with eight statues in white marble, over-lifesize, illustrative of the life of a warrior.
  • The Lustgarten lies beyond the bridge and was originally the palace garden. In the centre was an equestrian statue of King Friedrich Wilhelm III by A. Wolff, inaugurated in 1871. The pedestal was adorned with allegorical figures of Clio, Borussia, etc.
  • The Cathedral (Dom) dominates the Lustgarten. It is a huge structure in the Italian Renaissance style, built in 1894-1902 by J. C. and Julius Raschdorf. On the north side is a Memorial Chapel whence a staircase descends to the Hohenzollern Family Burial Vault. The cathedral was badly damaged by bombing but was restored at a cost of over US$80 million.
  • The Royal Palace is also on the Lustgarten. The original building, on the eastern side, was erected as a fortified palace by Elector Friedrich II in 1443-1451. This wing was totally destroyed in WWII. It was added to in 1698-1716 by the famous architect, Andreas Schluter under King Friedrich I. Schluter was responsible for the two principal facades and notably the inner courts. His successor, Eosander von Goethe, is responsible for the outer court and the western facade, with its portal in imitation of the triumphal arch of the Roman Emperor Septimius Serverus. The vast dome contained a spacious chapel under it, constructed in 1845-1852, and a new period of building activity began under Emperor Wilhelm II to enhance the entire palace. At Portal IV are "The Horse Tamers", two large groups in bronze by the sculptor Baron Clodt of St.Petersburg, and presented by the Tsar Nicholas I in 1842. The outer court was adorned with St. George and the dragon, in bronze, by August Kiss. The palace's interiors, including the grand staircase and state-rooms were magnificent. The palace was badly damaged by Allied bombings, but was restorable. However the communist government of the so-called German Democratic Republic stated that it was a "symbol of oppression" and had the entire massive building dynamited. In the 21st century Schluter and von Goethe's facades and dome etc., have been reconstructed using the original architectural plans. One of the interior courtyards has also been restored and some destroyed statues have been replicated.

Coat of arms

The oldest preserved and known seal of Berlin is from 1253. It depicts the Brandenburg Eagle spreading its wings in a clover-shaped archway. The coat of arms of Berlin today is used by the German city state as well as the city itself. Introduced in 1954 for West Berlin, it shows a black bear on a white shield. On top of the shield is a special crown, created by the amalgamation of the mural crown of a city with the so-called people's crown (Volkskrone), used in Germany to denote a republic.

Berlin's various boroughs use their own emblems. The bear has been used as a charge in the Berlin coat of arms since 1709, formerly alongside the eagles of Brandenburg and Prussia. A bear occurs on seals, coins and signet rings from as early as the late 12th century (but not as heraldic charge before 1709), presumably due to a canting association with the city's name.


Berlin has a temperate oceanic climate (Cfb) according to the Köppen climate classification system. Summers are warm and sometimes humid with average high temperatures of 22 to 25°C and lows of 12 to 14°C. Winters are relatively cold with average high temperatures of 3°C and lows of -2 to 0°C. Spring and autumn are generally chilly to mild. Berlin's built-up area creates a microclimate, with heat stored by the city's buildings. Temperatures can be 4°C higher in the city than in the surrounding areas.[6]

Annual precipitation is 570 mm with moderate rainfall throughout the year. Light snowfall mainly occurs from December through March, but snow cover does not usually remain for long. The winter of 2009/2010 was an exception since there was a permanent snow cover from late December till early March.[7]

See also

External links



  2. Baedeker, Karl, Northern Germany, Leipzig, 1904, p.9.
  3. Overy, Richard, The Bombing War 1939-1945, Allen Lane, London, 2013, ISBN:978-0-713-99561-9
  4. Titzenthaler, Waldemar von, Berlin, Nikolaische Verlagsbuchhandlung, Berlin, 1987, ISBN: 3-87584-195-6
  5. Stadtkreis Berlin
  6. Retrieved on 7 April 2012.
  7. Climate figures. World Weather Information Service. Retrieved on 18 August 2008.