The political home of Germany's Federal Government and the educational center of Germany, Berlin is the nation's capital and busiest city.
Although major reconstruction projects have helped make Berlin an attractive, modern city, the shadows of World War II(1939-45) and the BerlinWall still darken its recent history. This is the seat of German power, where Adolf Hitler (1889-1945) gained control in 1933 by marching through the Brandenburg Gate and taking over parliament in the Reichstag building. After World War II, Berlin turned into a Cold War battleground, separated into a Soviet-influenced East and an American-influenced West by the Berlin Wall in 1966. But, there are startling contrasts to war in Berlin, such as the intellectual and scientific blossoming of the Enlightenment during the 1700s and "golden" 1920s of the twentieth century.
Berlin is located in the northeastern corner of Germany on the banks of the river Spree. On the South Bank, along the Strasse des 17 Juni, monuments like the Berlin Zoo, Tiergarten, Brandenburg Gate, Reichstag, and Schloss Bellevue draw tourists. Numerous transportation projects are currently underway, modernizing and extending the existing system, and connecting the former East and West Berlin into one community
The Tegel airport is the main international airport in western Berlin, closely followed by Shonefeld in the east. These airports will soon be complemented by the new Berlin-Brandenburg International Airport (BBI), slated for completion in 2007. Major airlines, such as Air France, Austrian Airlines, British Airways, Delta, KLM, Lufthansa, and Pan Am, operate in Berlin.
1920, divided down the middle into North and South banks by the river Spree, and into Eastern and Western sections by the former Berlin wall. Some major roads that run through the city are the Strasse des 17 Juni, Kurfurstendamm, Potsdamer, Friedrich, and Unter den Linden. These roads are lined with historical buildings and cultural venues that are easily accessible by the underground railways.
Many of Berlin's sights are within walking distance of the public transportation system, including the boulevard Unter den Linden which starts at Brandenburg Gate, continuing to the river, with the Tiergarten nearby. Museum Island is a popular place to view the extensive art collections of Berlin, which is actually located in the Spree River. Potsdamer Platz, in the center of the city, holds the State Library, National Gallery, and Philharmonic Concert Hall. Tour boats travel on the many lakes and canals around the city.