I am a huge fan of free walking tours! I started taking them more than six years ago and now when I am planning a trip one of the first things I research is: are there free walking tours?
They are usually in English, but some also offer it in Spanish, French or German upon group request. Many of them don't request reservation, just your punctuality at the meeting point. They guide you and your group, around 15 people, through the city's most important sights, and some hidden gems too, always full of information and curiosities. It usually takes 2 hours or more, with a short stop for coffee, and at the end of it you give them a tip if you think their tour was worth it. A little secret: it always is!
When my husband and I planned our trip to Berlin, we could only think about the history immersion we would have in such an important scenery of World History, and a free walking tour, would be the best way to go.
It really is a tour for nerds, and if you are really into history, the free walking tour may even include a space for Q&A.
We decided to take Sandeman's New Berlin Free Tour. Our meeting point was in front of the Brandenburg Gate. Just by being there your mind starts to flash you images of how that space was during the Third Reich. Countless pictures and plenty of history from our guide Sam, who, by the way, has a PhD in History. How awesome is that?! We could listen to him for hours because he guided us in Berlin with a strong passion for what he was talking about.
|Free Walking Tour in front of the Berlin Wall|
In a little more than 3 hours we visited the Brandenburg Gate, Hitler's bunker, the Holocaust Memorial, Checkpoint Charlie, SS Headquarters, The Berlin Wall, the TV tower, Pariser Platz, Lufwaffle Headquarters and Humboldt University.
The experience of being at a place that staged so much history and tragedy is something that touches you. To see the Berlin Wall right there in front of you and to imagine how life was at that time is just impossible. Without a doubt being close to the Berlin Wall is an unforgettable experience. All the region of the Berlin Wall carries a sad, silent and respectful air. The Museum of Terror was built behind it, and when you're there you see many students of all ages, many tourists, and utter silence. Pictures, videos, texts, miniature models, newspaper clips and Hitler's voice giving speeches. To listen to that man's voice while you are in front of the Berlin Wall, brings you an indescribable feeling. You feel like you are mourning the people who had to live through that time while it's so hard to believe that that unfortunately happened.
Needless to say that that was the part of the tour that left a mark in me. Our guide said that Germans know what happenned and everything is still there to remind people that it is extremely important that we learn from the past. They built an underground memorial with a glass roof in front of the Humboldt University. The memorial is bookshelves with no books, because of the book burn that occured in 1933 when they burned 20 thousand books following Hitler's orders just because they weren't in the nazi's terms.
It really is a tour for nerds and I recommend you get to do as many tours as possible - there are others, but they're all paid; all on my list when I go back to Berlin. Then, on the next day I suggest that you pick your favorite stops and go again with free time to really dive in to history.
So, that's it my fellow travelers, I hope I've inspired you to hop on a plane and go take a walking tour in Berlin!