The Best Museums in Berlin
With almost 200 museums housing everything from historical marvels to video game collections, Berlin won’t disappoint even the brainiest visitor. And while some museums are well-known and have been around for over a century, others are more obscure and offer a chance to see a completely different side of the city’s history.
Whether you prefer art, history or unusual collections, here are some of Berlin’s best museums you shouldn’t miss.
1/ Pergamon Museum
Germany’s most famous museum receives over one million visitors from all over the world every year. They come here to see the Pergamon Altar (a 2nd-century terrace from Ancient Greece) and the Ishtar Gate (one of the eight gates from the inner city of Babylon). Pergamon is the museum to visit if you’re looking for massive architectural marvels from some of the largest ancient civilizations.
Address: Bodestraße, Mitte
2/ Topography of Terror
This indoor/outdoor museum is located in what once was the SS Reich Main Security Office. Although the original buildings are long gone, excavations have revealed the cellar of the Gestapo headquarters, which included prison cells and execution areas. The main attraction here, however, is the open-air photo display built right against a preserved section of the Berlin Wall.
Address: Niederkirchnerstraße 8, Kreuzberg
3/ DDR Museum
Berlin’s most fascinating hands-on museum is the best interactive way to learn about life in former East Germany. Nothing here is off-limits: come in and sit in an authentically recreated living room (where you can change TV channels or use an old phone), jump into a Trabant car simulator or experience what food and production shortages felt like. There are 27 themed areas in the museum, including darker exhibitions featuring an interrogation room, a prison cell, and lots of propaganda posters and items. Taking a peek behind the Iron Curtain has never felt so real.
Address: Karl-Liebknecht-Str. 1, Mitte
4/ Jewish Museum Berlin
One of the most popular museums in Berlin, the Jewish Museum covers the entire spectrum of Jewish life in Germany through interactive exhibits, breathtaking design (such as the 24-meter tall empty silo known as the “Holocaust Tower”), and moving audio installations of WWII survivors. One of the most admired exhibits in the museum is the Shalekhet (Fallen Leaves), which is basically a long open-air corridor where the ground is covered with over 10,000 faces cut from heavy round iron plates – a silent, eerie memorial to the victims of war.
Address: Lindenstraße 9-14, Kreuzberg
5/ Hohenschönhausen Memorial
One of the best-kept secrets when it comes to museums, the Hohenschönhausen Memorial (located on the grounds of the former Stasi Prison) is somewhat outside the city but well worth the effort spent reaching it. A massive collection of 500 artifacts and almost as many original photographs, the memorial is a grim reminder of what political persecution looked like before the Wall came down. Walk into claustrophobic prison cells, see torture devices and instruments, and explore original clothes worn by prisoners, personal mementos, and even a collection of pamphlets and banned texts that could have landed you in prison.
Address: Genslerstraße 66, Alt-Hohenschönhausen
6/ Berlin Wall Memorial
This open-air memorial and museum offers the best opportunity to understand the Wall’s impact on the history of the city. Start by exploring the Wall up close and personal, then climb into the viewing platform to see the wall as it once was. Plaques mark the areas where escape tunnels were dug (including the number of people who died in the process) and photographs and films bring the experience to life.
A grim but moving piece of history well worth seeing.
Address: Bernauer Straße 111, Prenzlauer Berg
7/ New Museum
Built in the 19th century, the museum was heavily damaged during the bombing of Berlin and wasn’t restored and reopened until 1999. Although the museum’s most important collection revolves around Egyptian art (including the legendary – and much reproduced-- bust of Egyptian Queen Nefertiti), there’s still plenty of other things to see here. Don’t miss the two interior courtyards, the awe-inspiring collection of artifacts from Troy, and a number of restored sacrificial tombs (complete with real mummies).
Address: Bodestraße, Mitte
Want more? Berlin's Museum Island is a complex of five museums plus a number of other historical buildings and parks – all of which you can access with a single Museum Pass ticket. Museum Island is now part of the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.
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