The city's own tourism office, more tourists flocked in 2010 to Berlin than Rome, although more people on average still visit Paris and London than the German capital.
This tourism influx has of course been good news for Berlin's hotel and hospitality industry, which as a result has been booming lately, even if the city itself was once famously described by its governing mayor, Klaus Wowereit, as "poor, but sexy" (which by the way also just happens to be the name of a fantastic DC-based funk-rock outfit headed by none other than former TWIG editor and Poor But Sexy lead singer David Brown).
Today's Berlin combines the past and present at the crossroads of East and West in dazzling, manifold layers of diverse architecture; international diplomacy; world-class cultural venues; lively contemporary art, film and fashion scenes; vibrant festivals and nightlife; vast public transit networks; and cutting-edge technology.
The upshot: Germany's capital is a very livable and lovable place that attracts movers and shakers from the fields of politics, media and science, as well as young people and artists embracing a liberal lifestyle and a modern zeitgeist.
"Berlin is the place to be ... Berlin is a political decision-making center in Europe, a cosmopolitan cultural center, a magnet for the creative scene and a modern technology location," Wowereit has been quoted as saying.
"We're the city of change. Berlin's program consists of development, progress, change. The city is international, exciting, tolerant, open-minded and always new - you should definitely come to Berlin."
Of course Wowereit would put a positive spin on Berlin, but the city clearly must hold some enduring appeal as it continues to attract ever more tourists, not to mention people from all over the world who have decided to call the German capital home, including artists who flock to the city from New York, London, and other global capitals, drawn like moths to a flame by Berlin's affordable housing and eclectic avant-garde scene.
The city is steeped in layers of history, both painful and glorious, and has undergone multiple transformations over the past century, which is part of its attraction.
Berlin is both Germany's capital city and one of its 16 states. With a population of 3.4 million, it is also Germany's largest city. And it is the center of the wider northeastern Berlin-Brandenburg metropolitan area, comprised of 5 million people from over 190 nations.
First documented in the 13th century, Berlin has served as a German capital since 1701. After World War II, the city was divided: East Berlin became the capital of East Germany, while West Berlin became a western exclave, with the Berlin Wall artificially cutting the city in half from 1961 to 1989. Following German reunification in 1990, the city regained in 1999 its status as a capital of a united Germany hosting more than 145 foreign embassies.
Berlin's largely service sector oriented economy includes creative industries, media corporations, environmental services, and convention venues, as well as logistics, IT, medical, and biotech industries. The city serves as a major transport hub and is a popular tourist destination.
Berlin's cultural program is amazing: The city boasts three opera houses, over 150 theaters and playhouses, over 170 museums and collections and over 200 private galleries. In addition, the capital plays host to numerous top acts, artists and bands - every day nearly 1,500 events are on Berlin's cultural calendar.
Need any more reasons to visit Berlin?
Happy Holidays from Germany.info!
The next edition of The Week in Germany will appear in January, 2011.
Editor, The Week in Germany
I well remember my first visit there, about five years ago: the remnants of the Berlin Wall, Checkpoint Charlie... all that Cold War History ala John LeCarre. Len Deighton and the rest.
Funeral in Berlin 1st Edition