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  • CENTRAL EUROPE 2011

    Day 4 

    September 5 Monday - 

    BERLIN 

    We didn't set our alarm last night so we didn't wake up until 9:45.  It was raining so after we had breakfast in our apartment, we took a taxi to the Jewish Museum.  It appeared to be a long walk from our apartment, and not too close to a metro stop.

     Jewish Museum

    The Jewish Museum designed by American Architect Daniel Libeskind, who is redeveloping New York’s World Trade Center site, opened its doors in 2001. The very modern building with zinc-paneling creates a connection between the museum’s themes and its architecture.   Libeskind has dubbed his design “Between the Lines,” a title which reflects the tensions of German-Jewish history. “ Inscribed within the design of the building, this past takes shape along two lines charting various cultural connections and modes of thought: one is straight, but broken into many fragments; the other is winding and open-ended.  The building’s zigzag shape is pierced by voids symbolic of the irreplaceable cultural loss caused by the Holocaust.” (Museum booklet).
     

    The building is entered through an 18th century Baroque building next door.  We first visited two of the three memorial spaces.  First was the Axis of Holocaust, which was a large empty, very tall tower with a small window at the top.  Only a few people at a time were admitted and the door shut.  There were many people just sitting in silence on the floor.   It served as an uncomfortable reminder of the sensation of being held prisoner in such a tower.

    The next stop was the Axis of Exile.  It was very similar to but smaller than the outdoor Memorial to the Murdered Jewish.  The area consisted of 49 pillars set on an uneven walkway.  Walking through this garden gave a sense of being disorientated and feeling dizzy.  
     

    The third area, which was not opened today, was the Memory Void.  It is a thought provoking space of “fallen leaves”: heavy metal faces that you walk on.   We looked down on this area from another part of the museum.    The tour of the museum itself begins on the top floor.  There are elevators for those of us who find it difficult to climb steps.   On the top floor begins a 2,000 year story of Judaism in Germany.  Some of the exhibits are interactive.  There are English explanations of the exhibits and the symbolism of the building.  

    We spent three hours with these moving exhibits. On the back side of the baroque building was a large glassed-in eating area with an adjacent buffet.  We ate lunch there.  PLEASE SEE MY MODEL.

      We walked several blocks until we came to a metro stop.  We weren’t real sure which train to take, but a nice man helped us. We took the metro to Kaiser Wilhem church which is in the Charlottenburg section where we were yesterday.  There was only a slight drizzly by this time. 

    THE KAISER WILHELM CHURCH

    The foundation stone of the original church was laid in 1891 as a memorial to the first Emperor of Germany.  Reliefs and mosaics show the great events in the life of Kaiser Wilhelm, from his coronation in 1871 to his death in 1888.   This church was destroyed during a night of air-raid on November 23, 1943.  All that remained when the war was finished were ruins, but the difficult conditions of the post-war years prevented reconstruction, although there was a lobby for restoring the church to its familiar form.  It was not until 1956 that a competition was started to design and build a new church.   The new church was designed by architect Egon Eiermann and consecrated on December 17, 1961.  It consists of four separate buildings grouped around the ruins of the old church tower.

    SEE MY MODEL.  When we visited the ruined old church tower was being worked on and was covered with the "fake" building canvass.  The very tip of the tower can be seen above the canvass. The canvass was removed in 2012.

     

     The plan of the church is octagonal while the plan of the tower is hexagonal. The new buildings are constructed of concrete, steel and glass. The walls of the church are made of a concrete honeycomb containing 21,292 stained glass inlays. The glass, designed by Gabriel Loire was inspired by the colors of the glass in Chartres Cathedral in France.  The predominant color is blue, with small areas of ruby red, emerald green and yellow.

    The entrance hall in the base of the damaged spire is open to visitors.  Its floor contains a mosaic of the Archangel Michael fighting the dragon.  The vault shows a procession of Hohenzollern princes. Other mosaics show important monarchs in medieval Germany, Reformation thinkers and Reformation princes.  Bas-relief sculptures illustrate scenes from biblical stories, scenes from the life of Kaiser Wilhelm I and symbolic figures representing war and peace. In the north apse are 16 display panels which tell the story of the old church and its destruction. At the opposite end of the hall are three items which symbolize the history of the church. In the middle is a damaged statue of Christ which originally stood on the altar of the old church. To its right is the Cross of Nails which was made from nails in the roof timbers of Coventry Cathedral in England. This cathedral had been severely damaged in a German air raid on  November 14, 1940. To the left of the statue of Christ is an icon cross which was given by the Russian Orthodox Church and handed over in 1988.
     

    We spent some time in the church itself which was quite beautiful with all of the blue glass.  At the present time the old church is under some reconstruction through 2012. We were disappointed that we could not see it, as it was wrapped in an aluminum tent to prevent dust and allow work during inclement weather.  

    We spent a long time in the entrance hall, admiring the mosaics, the pictures and the gifts at the right end of the hall.

    We caught the metro (it is call the S bahn for the above ground and U bahn for underground).  We are getting pretty good finding our way around by the metro.  Our station, Hackescher Market, is just a block from our hotel.  We got back to our station a little after 5:00 pm.
     

    Although out lunch was filling, we thought we had better find somewhere to eat.  At the ground level of the Hackescher Market tram station are a number of outdoor cafes.  We notice others down the street so we started exploring.  We found a beautiful restaurant -The Oxymoron- situated in the first Art Nouveau courtyard of the “Hackesche Höfe” a block away from the Hackescher Market Station.  It was a new, rather modern restaurant. We began by having drinks at a small table near the outdoor dining area.  We finally decided that we were hungry and it looked like a wonderful place to have dinner.   We were able to move to a larger table in the middle of the dining room. I had an Argentinan Steak with sweet potatoes and parsnips.  My wife had risotto with pig.  It was wonderful meal. We are so pleased to have stumbled on this great place.  We would highly recommend it.

      We came back to the apartment, and used our washer/dryer for the first time. The washer is “new-fangled”, and it sounds like it's ready to take off.  It was nice to have a washer and dryer in our apartment.  

    Next Day

    Day 1 - Berlin

    Day 2 - Berlin

    Day 3 - Berlin

    Day 4 - Berlin

    Day 5 - Berlin - Potsdam

    Day 6 - Dresden

    Day 7 - Dresden

    Day 8 - Prague

    Day 9 - Prague - Kutna Hora

    Day 10 - Prague

    Day 11 - Brno

    Day 12 - Budapest

    Day 13 - Budapest

    Day 14 - Budapest

    Day 15 - Vienna

    Day 16 - Vienna

    Day 17 - Vienna - Melk Abbey

    Day 18 - Vienna

    Day 19 - Salzburg

    Day 20 - Salzburg

    Day 21 - Salzburg

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