Our recent trip to Berlin included a couple of days spent at the Berlin Zoo as well as the beautiful Pergamon Museum. I was like a kid in a candy store at the zoo. Being from Africa, a lot of people assume that l lived among wildlife.. :o). I remember kids in school asking me about that after we had moved to the U.S. The answer would be no! No such luck. Our wildlife are goats, chickens, maybe some stray dogs, and lizards. I saw a very old and toothless lion once at our local zoo when l was about 5, and l think there might have been a zebra. To see any of the good stuff, it had to be on an African Safari just like everyone else.
You can just imagine my excitement when we realized that the Berlin zoo had just about every animal you can think of. We had to visit. It took us just a few minutes to get there , the stop on the bus being .. Zoo Garden. On the train, it is the Ubahn stop. Our first sighting were the mighty elephants. We also saw tigers, rhinos, bears, giraffes, etc. It was a fun day. I felt bad because even though l was happy to see the animals, it came at the expense of their freedom. The Berlin zoo was badly damaged in the second world war, and it burnt to the ground, a casualty of war. Only 91 of the almost 4000 animals that were kept in the zoo at the time survived. Of course, looking at this huge zoo now, there is no sign of the past decimation. Everything was completely rebuilt and it looks grander than ever. Very nice and peaceful, there were lots of families hanging out and having picnics.
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While l am not a big fan of keeping animals in cages, l have to admit that from the looks of things, the animals were well looked after. Most seem to have adequate space to roam, and as possibly close to their natural habitat as much as possible. That made me feel better. The only animals that looked clearly miserable were the bears. They looked sad, and lonely. They were also very thin, at least to my eyes. All the bears l had ever seen on television look so big and robust, and these just looked..sad. I wanted to set them free :-(.
Berlin Zoo entrance fee: (Berlin zoo price)
General admission price for the Berlin zoo is €15.50
€21 if combined with the Aquarium
Students and disabled people have a reduced price of €10.50
Berlin zoo ticket prices drop to €8 for children
Berlin Zoo address:
Zoo Berlin Hardenbergplatz 8 10787 Berlin zum Stadtplan
Zoo Berlin tickets can be purchased at the entrance or online. A Berlin travel pass is a good idea if you want to visit a lot of museums.
A whole other day was spent at the Pergamon Museum , which is located on the Museum Island in Mitte. What a fantastic place to spend a few hours. It was definitely worth the price of admission. It cost €11 each for admission. I highly suggest visiting if you get the chance. They are scheduled for a major renovation soon and it will be closed for a long time, so l am glad we got to visit. As usual, l got our tickets online. I can only tell you that when we got there, there had to be at least 400 people in line for tickets! How nice to be waived to the other line that had like 3 people ahead of us. We traded our paper tickets for the actual ones, got our headsets, and off we went to explore. You definitely want to reserve and pay online to avoid the hassle. One other thing you want to do is print out your tickets. We were of the thought that they would be able to scan the bar code on our cell phone, but they are not. They needed the actual paper. Luckily, there was a guy there who pitied us, and quickly printed it for us. I happen to think that the Pergamon Museum is a must visit in Berlin.
The archeological finds in the museum are beautifully preserved. With the headphones, you were able to learn some history of the ancient world, including the altar from the Zeus temple, and the Ishtar Gate (are you thinking of that horrid film as well?).
Pergamon Museum Facts:
There are discovered items from Sumerian, Assyrian and Babylonian culture. Lots of pottery and jewelry worn by the ruling royalties. My favorite was seeing remains of the Ishtar gate. The gate was the eighth gate in ancient Babylon, and was constructed in 575 BC under the rule of King Nebuchadnezzar II. It was excavated and later reconstructed in the Pergamon museum in the 20th century. The section of the gate was gifted to Berlin by the then Turkey President. It was then transported brick by brick and reconstructed inside of the museum.
It is made of blue glazed bricks and the shine on it is awesome. I wish they had that now. It looks brilliant, as if someone buffs it on a daily basis. There are goddesses and gods depicted on the wall and lots of flowers. The gate was considered one of the “seven wonders of the world” until it was replaced by the Lighthouse of Alexandria. During the New Year celebrations, the statues of the various gods would be paraded through the gate and down the processional way. The Processional way was lined with paintings that totaled 120 lions, bulls, flowers and dragons in yellow and black colored bricks which was the symbol of the goddess Ishtar. I was so glad we had the headphones. It was really cool learning all these facts.
What’s even more amazing is that the Pergamon museum was heavily damaged during the second world war, but they managed to protect the artifacts by storing them in different places or walling the really big things. Some things however made their way to Russia, and are still in Moscow. Hopefully someday, they will make their way back, but for now, there is some sort of blockage from the Russian side. Saddam Hussein had a replica of the Ishtar gate built in Iraq during his reign, but the museum was never completed, and the gate sustained damage during the Iraq war. Take a Pergamon museum virtual tour here.
Related reading: Berlin Wall
Berlin really is a wonderful city, and l hope l get to visit it again. I’m no hipster, but l found a groove there..
Pergamon Museum Hours:
Monday – Sunday 10AM – 6PM
Pergamon Museum Entrance Fee:
Pergamon museum ticket prices are €12
Please note that major portions of the museum are being renovated and will continue to be till 2025. For the latest information, check out their site to see if the section you want to see is open to the public.
Pergamon Museum Address:
The Pergamon Museum is located on museum island in Berlin.
Bodestraße 1-3, 10178 Berlin, Germany
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Have you ever been to the Berlin zoo or the Pergamon museum? If yes, did you like it? How do you feel about animals in captivity?