Berlin is a major cultural center, home to orchestras, opera companies, repertory theaters, and museums. It has an excellent public transportation system and is served by two airports. In the Kurfürstendamm, the main thoroughfare in the western section of the city, stands the gutted tower of the original Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, left unrestored as a reminder of World War II. A similar memorial, the unrestored remains of the St. Nicholas Church, were formerly preserved in E Berlin, but beginning in the 1980s it was reconstructed and is now part of the Berlin City Museum. The Berlin Cathedral (1894–1905), located on Museum Island (N Spree Island), also was damaged but was reconstructed (1975–2002).
The large Tiergarten park in central Berlin contains the reconstructed Reichstag building with its glass dome and the Berlin zoo. On the NE side of the park, along a bend in the Spree River, the Federal Strip houses a number of government buildings, including the enormous Chancellery (opened 2001). The concert hall of the Berlin Philharmonic is on the opposite side of the Tiergarten. At the SE end of the park is Potsdamer Platz, which was the heart of the city in the 1920s and 30s. In the 1990s, it came under commercial and residential renewal, becoming the largest construction site in Europe. The State Opera is in E Berlin, on the famous Unter den Linden, which leads to the Brandenburg Gate, a triumphal arch in the classical style. Near the Gate is the city's 5.5-acre (2.2-hectare) Holocaust memorial (2005).
Among Berlin's many museums are those in the Cultural Forum in the western part of the city, including the New National Gallery and the Gemäldegarie; those in Museum Island in the eastern part of the city, including the Altes Museum, the Egyptian Museum, and the Pergamon Museum; and the Berlin Museum–Jewish Museum complex in the Kreuzberg district. Humboldt Univ. of Berlin (formerly known as the Univ. of Berlin or Frederick William Univ.) and the Free Univ. of Berlin (founded in 1948) are among the city's many educational and scientific institutions.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.