Echoes of the past
Driving through the empty streets, I head west to the Charlottenburg district. It feels well-heeled, with large open streets and grand houses at their fringes. But nothing can prepare you for the powerful statement that is the Olympiastadion. Opened for the 1936 Olympics, it is one of the few remaining examples of fascist-era architecture, with a pair of pillars at its entrance that tower over visitors and floodlit Olympic rings spanning the gap. Lonesome joggers plod by, unlikely to win a gold medal. I cut back through Charlottenburg, en route to Tiergarten.
A former hunting ground to Prussian rulers, the city’s central park used to see its eastern edge serve as a boundary for Berlin’s wall. Today it unifies east and west, and its main road (Strasse des 17. juni, named after the East Berlin Worker’s strike of 1953) is arrow-straight and expansively wide.
At its eastern end, I come to the Reichstag, which was nearly lost during the war, and didn’t recover until 1999, when it was rebuilt by Sir Norman Foster. Its crowning glory is a glass dome, or cupola, complete with spiral walkway. In the dusk, as light fades and its insides are illuminated, you can watch visitors whirl their way around like worker ants.