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Home> Destinations> Europe> Berlin> Overview


Updated: 2014-06-11 / (visitberlin.de)





City Introduction

Berlin is the capital and the largest city of Germany. In terms of urban size and population, it is among the largest cities in Europe as well. Compared with other German cities, Berlin seems to have an alternative. Although there are relatively older buildings and neighborhoods, the most vivid aspect of the city lies in the demonstration of German modern history and contemporary history, ranging from the madness of war, to the post-war trauma, and then to the pain of nirvana trying to heal itself. Such scenes may not be romantic enough, but there are deep forces to touch people's hearts. This is a story of the city, worthy of each tourist to listen carefully to. The division of East and West Berlin has ended more than twenty years with the fall of the Berlin Wall, but there still exist some differences between these two regions. The whole Berlin is divided into 12 districts (Bezirk), and further divided into sub-districts (Stadtteil) and then into streets (Kiez). Berlin's main attractions are scattered in several bezirk s of the downtown, and visitors can use the excellent urban public transportation tools to shuttle among the various attractions. Berlin city has large tracts of forests and greens, through which Spree River runs, creating a pleasant natural environment very suitable for strolling and leisure.





History and Culture

Berlin has a very long history. Originally built in 1237, it is located at the east bank of Spree River, and is a neighborhood of merchants while Cohen is located at the west bank of Spree River, and is a fishing village. In 1307, Berlin and Cohen were merged into one city, named as Berlin, which then became an important commercial center under the ruling of Askar family. From 1415 onwards, Berlin became the capital of the Elector of Brandenburg. From 1640 to 1688, Frederick William I (Elector) created a cultural and artistic boom for Berlin by building the royal palace, armories, churches and the detached Palace of Potsdam, which makes Berlin won the good reputation of "Spree Riverside Athens” in the world. In 1991, the German Parliament determined by vote to move the capital from Bonn back to Berlin by the year 2000. Thereafter Berlin launched the massive reconstruction. The new Congress and the house of Prime Minister were erected north of the old Parliament House. Potsdamer Platz, once a mine-infested zone on the foot of the former Berlin Wall, once again has become the commercial center of German and resumed its central position in European culture and economy. Berlin has numerous opera houses, theaters and orchestras, as well as a lot of cinemas, nightclubs and dance halls. It successfully hosted the Olympic Games in 1936, and sponsored the World Cup in 1974.





Natural Environment

Located on the plains of northeastern Germany, Berlin is at the beautiful estuary of the Spree River as a tributary of Elbe River into Havel River. It’s about 180 kilometers away from the Baltic Sea to the north, and 190 kilometers away from the Czech Republic to the south, and is also in the vital communication line between Eastern and Western Europe, which is not only the national transportation center, but is also a very important transport hub in Europe.






Berlin enjoys a transitional climate from the temperate maritime climate to temperate continental climate, with the annual average temperature of 9.4℃. In Winter it’s much colder, with the average temperature of -1℃ in January; but it’s cool in summer, with the average temperature of 18℃ in July. The annual average rainfall is 580 mm, and the yearly rainfall is evenly distributed throughout the year, with slightly more rainy days in summer, and with much snowfall in winter.





Useful Information


Free WIFI signal can be available at Starbucks. In addition, there are some cafes and restaurants offering free WIFI. Sony Center at Potsdamer Platz is a huge free WIFI hotspot. For convenient network cafes called Sidewalk Express, there are numerous branches in Berlin, and coin-operated computers with internet access, are available at the Dunkin Donuts fast food restaurant on Alexander Platz, Burger King fast-food restaurant at the central railway station, Dunkin Donuts fast food restaurant on Potsdamer Platz and so on.

Mobile APP

German National Tourist Board has launched a number of smart phone Apps, as a good helper for travelers. These Apps have an English interface, including: Germany Travel (comprehensive coverage of travel brochures); TOP 100-Deutschlands beliebteste Sehenswürdigkeiten (TOP 100- Germany's most popular attractions); Welterbe Guide (detailed introduction of Germany attractions on the World Heritage List); and Youth HotSpot (mainly provide free Wi-Fi search).

Post Office

Germany post office is for the black and yellow "Deutsche Post", with the logo of a black horn. The basic postage for Deutsche Post is: 45 euro cents for a postcard to be delivered to Germany postcard, 55 euro cents for an ordinary letter; and 75 euro cents for a postcard or an ordinary letter to be sent to any other country than Germany.

Information of Embassy and Consulate

Address: Brückenstraße 10, 10179 Berlin

Means of arrival: Subway Lines S5, S7, S9 and S75, Jannowitzbrücke Station

Opening Time: Office Hours of Consular Section: 9:00 - 12:00 from Monday to Friday; only reception for appointment in the afternoon (except holidays).

Tel: +49-(0)30-2758 8572 /2759 0883 /2759 0884

Website: http://www.china-botschaft.de

Tips: Artificial Consulting Tel: +49-30-27588572; 15:00 - 17:00 on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, except holidays.





Visa Information

Personal Information

1. Passport (sign your name on the last page of the passport, and a new passport holder is required to provide all the previous original passports; there are 2 blank pages in visas of some countries, to which multiple country visa applicants should pay more attention.)

2. Photos (do not provide recopied or printed photos, and they must be photofinishing photos)

3. ID (for old ID, please provide a copy of the front ID using A4 paper; for the new ID, please provide a copy of the front and the back of ID using a A4 paper)

4. Household register (A4-paper copies of all pages about all the family members in the register, whether they are immediate family members A4 paper, including the page of changes in information bar.)

5. Marriage certificate (for married persons, provide the original marriage certificate or its copy)

6. Retirement certificate

7. Individual funds + property (deposit certificate, driving license, stock delivery order, bankbooks and so on.) (certificate of deposit generally has some restrictions on certain amounts, usually not less than RMB 50,000 per person, which was opened at least three months to half a year ago. Bank standard format is required to be filled out, with correct English translations and no handwritten text allowed; and generally the valid period need to freeze three months after you return home) (day-to-day account of a bank card or salary statements: such bank statements of salary is required to fall within the last six months, which are stamped with the official seal of the bank, and include the person's name, and also contain the information about the card number, holder’s name and bank seal, in case of a credit card) (a copy of bankbook: Generally the balance remains at the range of RMB 10,000 - 50,000 or more, and the more, the better)

Requirements for the bank card: It must include the cardholder's name, card number and bank stamp to become valid.

8. Proof of awards received by individuals (certificates of merit or testimonials) which can confirm one’s own achievements.

The above materials basically belong to your personal information.

Travel Documents

1. A series of itineraries issued by a Chinese company or the inviting company; the itineraries might not be fully followed in reality, must be well-organized; for example, you do not go to the East and then to the West, for your first entry is in the west; so you should have a certain understanding of the geography in Europe;

2. A hotel reservation form (if you are invited to stay at the home of the inviter or r elsewhere, then you must make relevant explanations in the letter of invitation) , and the hotel reservation form must be real and effective, which will be verified by the Consulate by call to the hotel.

3. A copy of air ticket reservation form; the form must match your check-out time, and it’s best to not exceed ten days after the visa; if you already book the prior-5-day air ticket, the German Embassy won’t give you a green light because you are so anxious or have booked an air ticket.

4. A copy of Schengen visa insurance policy; visa application insurance is one of the necessary documents, and it is recommended to buy the property insurance from PICC which is affiliated under the State Council. This may give you a better help in time of claim settlement or application for a visa.





Currency Exchange

In Germany, there are few currency exchange points. Except Berlin's airport and Central Station, you have to go to a bank for currency exchange. As banks are open for a short time, and handling fees are required to be paid, therefore it is recommended to use CUP card or credit card for cash withdrawal or direct spending.

CUP cards can be used at the ATMs with the CUP logo and all German Sparkasse, the handling charges should be determined by referring to the CUP card issuing bank.

IVISA and Mastercard credit cards are widely accepted at a vast majority of shops and supermarkets in the Berlin district of attractions. For other common credit and debit cards, you can identify the logos posted on shop doorways.

In Germany, when you sit down at a restaurant or a coffee shop and receive services from waiters, then you may give some tips with the customary tip amount of 5% to 10% of the meal amount. In time of final checkout, you may directly include the tip into the bill and then tell the waiter the amount of the tip.

Shops with a Tax Free logo can provide tax refund services. There is a slight difference in the minimum shopping amount allowed for tax refund at each store, and the proportion of tax refunds changes with the amount of goods, generally ranging at about 9-14%. In a word, the more the amount, the higher the proportion of a tax refund ratio. To this end, please consult the salesperson.






Christentum is Germany's main religion, including the two main sects: Römisch-katholische Kirche and Protestantismus respectively account for 30% of German national believers. In the rest of the population, there is a small part of the population believing in Christian Orthodox, Islam and Judaism, and about one-third of the total population have no faith of religion.





Tourism Service Number

First aid telephone number: 112

Police-calling Number: 110

Fire Number: 112

ADAC trailer phone: ADAC trailer phone: +49-222222 (dial from a mobile phone); +49-180-2222222 (dial from landline telepone).






1. Berlin is a very open-minded and free city, with no very strong religious tradition. And the integration of migrants and the impact of contemporary culture, make Berlin marked with a very maverick style. If you find outlandish people or walkers with grotesque behaviors on the streets, do not be surprised. Of course, out of courtesy and safety, don’t take any photo of any stranger in the absence of communication, to avoid unnecessary trouble.

2. At some of Berlin's famous attractions, there are some "figures" in line with the attractions. For example, the cartoon bear stands in front of the Brandenburg, and American soldiers are at Checkpoint Charlie. Taking a photo with these figures should be charged at the price of 1-2 euros, for they are just like those performance artists.

3. Near the scenic spots in the downtown, there are rarely completely free public toilets available. There are many City-Toilets set up by Wall Company on the streets, priced at every 50 euro cents each time, and featured with automatic operation, and good cleanness and sanitary. Toilets in the museums are generally free. For toilets at some shopping malls and restaurants in the tourist areas, cleaning staff may also charge users 50 euro cents each time.

4. There is a good public security order in Berlin and there is usually no problem for tourists to travel through most of the downtown areas. However, in considering lodging and going out at night, you might as well avoid some areas. For specific location marks, see the content of the "Security" section. In most cases "Neo-Nazi" is only a legend. However, if you really meet any locals unfriendly to foreigners, you’d better leave as soon as possible on the premise of no harm, to avoid any head-on confrontation.





Festivals(Important/Historical/Folks Ones)

Museum Night (Lange Nacht der Museen)

Berlin's Museum Night is held once in January and August each year respectively. On the day from six o'clock p.m. to two o'clock a.m. of the next day, the audience can take a special bus to shuttle among more than 100 museums in Berlin.

Berlin Film Festival

It’s held in February each year. Berlin Film Festival with a 60-year history is a treasure for Chinese film industry. China’s numerous films have won awards, such as Chinese cartoon "Three Monks" in 1982, Zhang Yimou's film "Red Sorghum" in 1988, and then Wang Chuan's film " Apart Together" in 2010.

Cultural Carnival

Cultural Carnival is held during the annual festival of Ascension in May and June, which is a best show of Berlin being a member of the family of nations. During this period, foreigners living in Berlin will wear their hometown costumes, go to the streets singing and dancing, and make joint performances on the big stage of Kreuzberg district.

Berlin Marathon

With nearly 40 years of history, Berlin Marathon is an important part of the world marathon.


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