Thursday, August 9, 2012

From the Pergamon to the Bröhan

It was our last day in Berlin. The night before, we’d met Dirk for a drink — a man we didn't know before coming to Berlin (a connection through Chris’ work) who had been incredibly helpful before we arrived.   Dirk had been sending emails with PDFs of the airport terminal, where to buy the Welcome card (unlimited travel on any public transport), the area where we’d be staying. It was Dirk who alerted us to the fact that although our plane tickets had us going to Berlin-Brandenberg Airport, we'd better check that because that airport wasn't OPEN yet (wish American Airlines had told us that).

While I slurped and sopped up Kartoffelsuppe à la Kaiser Wilhelm (a luscious potato soup) with crusty bread, Dirk convinced Chris that even if we didn't see anything else, we had to go the Pergamon Museum to see the altar and the Gates of Ishtar before leaving Berlin.  Even if we just went in and out in half an hour, we could not leave without seeing the Pergamon.

I hadn’t wanted to tackle the enormity of Museumisle, but if we went there first thing, if we only did that one place, if we only stayed for an hour, we could still go on to the Bröhan Museum before catching the bus to the airport.  I was willing.

Dirk was right. The splendor of the building itself and the architectural monuments inside were beyond what I could imagine anyone ever creating.  Size, symmetry, beauty and all without the benefit of our sophisticated equipment and electrical machinery.  Because Chris and I manage museums very differently, we split up.  I stood dwarfed by the massive Pergamon Altar and the gorgeous impressive blue and gold mosaic Gates of Ishtar, and quickly went through the Museum of Islamic Art which was filled with one object more beautiful then the next.

To get a sense of the amazing workmanship found throughout the halls of the Pergamon — clearly a picture is worth a thousand words.



We spent two hours gazing at the spectacular antiquities brought to this palatial place, stone by stone, from faraway lands   their presence at the Pergamon surrounded by arguments: Where do these creations really belong?  Would they have survived if left in their original sites?  Should they be returned?  Important and valid questions but ones we didn't engage in. We just appreciated that we were seeing the glory and richness of peoples and places past.

Needing to move on, we grabbed a spicy bratwurst from the cart outside, hopped on the right bus, and rode to Charlottenburg to see what I was longing to see  something modern: Art Nouveau & Art Deco at the Bröhan-Museum.

Dwarfed by the enormous Schloss Charlottenburg (the summer palace built by Elector Friederich III in 1699 for his wife Sophie Charlotte — the largest palace in Berlin with "the largest collection of 18th-century French paintings outside of France"), the Bröhan is far more manageable. Small in size but packing a powerful punch, this museum seduces you with its furniture and furnishings of a time in the not-too-distant past I can easily relate to and admire. I float through the rooms, marveling at the vases, silver, sconces and settees.  
I hope this one perfect piece — in the palest green with the loveliest of lines — sums up the exquisiteness of the collection:
To see more, go the museum's site.

We are about to leave Berlin but if we can manage to squeeze it in, there's one last stop  the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, a church built in 1899, bombed out in WWII, preserved and now surrounded by a new and modern structure, the remains of this building have incredibly detailed mosaic tile work but my photos do not do them justice.  Months before we left, Chris' Aunt Gloria had unexpectedly passed away (only 12 years older than we are) but among her things was a pamphlet from this site.  My mother-in-law felt it was a sign saying, "Go to Berlin and have a good trip!" so we went there and said a prayer for Gloria.

Bus back to Alexanderplatz, a last look at the TV Tower  and we're off to Milan.


  1. What beautiful pictures! I am enjoying your trip vicariously! SK