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Berlin - Art and Currywurst in the Capital

By Maike Mintelowsky

As Germany's largest city, Berlin is both the capital and the seat of government. It is also exceptionally rich in history. In a divided Germany, the Berlin Wall split the city into east and west for 28 years until its fall in 1989. Today, Berlin offers a vibrant blend of past and present and is experiencing business and academic growth.

© Deutsche WelleBerlin is a perfect place to be

Berlin as a research location

Berlin has a wealth of job opportunities for academics and researchers. With 18 higher education institutions, Berlin is Germany's biggest university city. Three of the city's four universities are winners in the federal Initiative for Excellence and therefore receive millions in state funding each year.

The Charité within the Humboldt University is Europe's largest medical faculty. Several colleges of art and music provide a platform for subject areas such as design, visual and performing arts, music and drama.

Berlin is also home to research institutions like the Max Planck Institute, including its institutes for human development and infection biology, and the Fraunhofer institutes for telecommunications and for software and systems engineering.

The city's main focus, however, is on cooperation between the worlds of academia and business, especially in the fields of transportation, biotechnology and medical technology, IT and media.


Berlin was officially founded in 1237, with the famous bear appearing in the city's heraldry as early as 1280 although not as the main figure. In 1871 Berlin became the capital of the newly founded German Empire for the first time and a centre of academic, commercial and cultural life.

Following Germany's defeat in the Second World War, Berlin was divided into four sections and administered jointly by the four allied powers. While the western sectors of the country became the German Federal Republic in 1949 with Bonn as the capital, Berlin remained the only city through which the border ran and therefore with an east and west part and special Allied status. East Berlin became the capital of the German Democratic Republic (GDR). It was not until German reunification in 1990 that Berlin became the country's capital once more.

An insight into Berlin's varied history can be obtained by visiting some of the many museums, including the Berlin Wall Museum at Checkpoint Charlie (the best-known former border crossing point between East and West Berlin) or Berlin's Museum Island - a unique ensemble of museum buildings in the heart of Berlin and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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Berlin Berlin Berlin

Living in Berlin

"Poor but sexy" is how Berlin's mayor Klaus Wowereit once described his city. Berlin is now experiencing a recovery, even in these times of crisis. Infrastructure is being developed at all levels. The public transport system is growing all the time while the expansion of Schönefeld Airport into a major hub will enhance mobility.

It is much easier to find an apartment in Berlin than in other major German cities. A plentiful supply of housing means that rents are significantly below average. From the academic district of Prenzlauer Berg to leafy Köpenik or alternative Kreuzberg, Berlin has something for everyone.

With over 2,500 public parks and recreational areas, countless lakes and surrounding countryside such as the Spree Forest, there are attractive leisure destinations at all times of year.


  • 3.4 million inhabitants; 23.2% aged under 25
  • Just under 500,000 residents are non-German citizens

Typical aspects of Berlin

People from Berlin are known for their cheeky but charming 'bark'. The typical Berlin dialect was regarded by Goethe as crude and by many simply as incorrect German

Major events such as the Carnival of Cultures and the Berlinale, one of the most important international film festivals, are just some of the diverse arts and cultural activities available.

Berlin also has much to offer on the culinary side: in addition to star-rated restaurants, there are food stalls on every corner so you can enjoy what is reportedly the best currywurst in Germany. For some musical accompaniment, you can listen to one of the many organ grinders roaming the streets, traditionally with a monkey on their shoulder.

Interesting links

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academics :: July 2010