Berlin exemplifies much of the turbulent second half of the 20th century, much of which was dominated by the Cold War. Not only is Berlin Germany’s biggest city (Metropolitan area population 6 Million) but it is also one of the most vibrant—some would say edgy—cultural centres in Europe. Although it was devastated in the Second World War many historical sites remain—Part of the old Reichstag building, the iconic Brandenburg Gate, Charlottenburg Palace — the largest existing palace in Berlin and many restored museums and galleries. Berlin is located on the banks of the rivers Spree and Havel from where boat tours are available and for nature lovers around one-third of the city’s area is composed of forests, parks, gardens, rivers, canals and lakes.
Charlottenburg Palace was built at the end of the 17th century and was greatly expanded during the 18th century. It includes much exotic internal decoration in baroque and rococo styles. A large formal garden surrounded by woodland was added behind the palace, including a belvedere, a mausoleum, a theatre and a pavilion. During the Second World War, the palace was badly damaged but has since been reconstructed. The palace with its gardens are a major tourist attraction.