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October 7, 2011

Berlin, Germany With Kids

by Anne Paddock
Berlin, Germany has more than 150 museums, some of which are truly amazing especially for children. In addition, Berlin has a variety of other sites that will interest and entertain your children including:
  1. Museum fur Naturkunde:  Museum of Natural History
  2. Deutsches Technikmuseum:  German Technology Museum
  3. Science Center Spectrum
  4. Fernsehturm (pictured at right)
  5. Jewish Museum
  6. Tiergarten Park
  7. Zoo Berlin, Berlin Aquarium and Tierpark Berlin
  8. Legoland Discovery Centre at Potsdamer Platz
  9. Christmas Markets
  10. KaDeWe 
Museum fur Naturkunde:  Museum of Natural History

The Museum fur Naturkunde is a natural history museum that kids, especially those enthralled with dinosaurs will love.  Upon entering the museum, the largest mounted dinosaur skeleton (40 feet or 14 meters) is the middle of an atrium, as illustrated to the right. The Brachiosaurus – a plant eater – lived 150 million years ago and was discovered on an exhibition to East Africa. In addition, the museum has the best preserved earliest known bird specimen displayed – the Archaeopteryx.

305410_10150331895383347_2013908371_nThe museum has 14 major exhibits that cover paleontology, the earth, cosmos and the solar system, evolution, animals, plants, minerals, and more.  Open Tuesday-Friday from 9:30-6:00 and on weekends from 10:00-6:00, the museum is closed on Mondays. There is a museum shop and a restaurant that is open from 10:00-4:00 Tuesday-Friday and from 11:00-5:00 on weekends.

Museum fur Naturkunde
InvalidenstraBe 43
10115 Berlin – 
00 49 (0) 30 209 38 591

www.naturkundemuseum-berlin.de

Deutsches Technikmuseum: Technology Museum
The Deutsches Technikmusuem is the German Technology Museum and given the obsession the younger generation has with the ever-changing world of technology, this museum is a popular place.  The exhibits are extensive and cover more than computers and automation with sections devoted to railways, film and photo technology, aerospace, aviation, telecommunications, transportation, manufacturing, writing and printing, navigation, textiles, power engineering, chemicals and pharmaceuticals, and even brewery technology.

551px-Deutsches_technikmuseum_berlin_20080429The museum is open Tuesday-Friday from 9:00-5:30 and on weekends from 10:00-6:00. Closed on Mondays.

Deutsches Technikmuseum
Trebbiner StraBe 9
10963 Berlin – Kreuzberg
00 49 (0) 30 902 540

www.sdtb.de

Science Center Spectrum
The Science Center Spectrum is located across the street from the Deutsches Technikmuseum and is considered a part of the Technology Museum so the same admission ticket can be used. The underlying philosophy of the Spectrum is that children can learn about science through demonstrations and experiments. Exhibits covering electricity and magnetism, light and vision, heat and temperature, music and sound, mechanics and motion, and microcosmos are presented.

1007px-Berlin,_Kreuzberg,_Moeckernstrasse_26,_Verwaltungsgebauede_Anhalter_GueterbahnhofThe Spectrum is open Tuesday – Friday from 9:00-5:30 and on weekends from 10:00-6:00. Closed Mondays. Currently under renovation, the museum will reopen in August, 2013.

Science Center Spectrum
MockernstraBe 26
Terbbiner StraBe 9
10963 Berlin – Kreuzberg
00 49 (0) 30 90 254 284

www.sdtb.de

Fernsehturm
Fernsehturm is a television tower that is 1,207 feet tall (368 meters) in the center of Berlin. The Fernsehturm is the tallest structure in Berlin and contains a sphere that has a visitors platform where the entire city of Berlin can be seen on a clear day.

canstockphoto1548506In addition, there is a restaurant in the sphere that rotates every 30/60 minutes.  Open from 9:00 – midnight from March through October and 10:00 – midnight from November to February, the Fernsehturm is like going to the Observatory at the Empire State Building and viewing the city, except that the platform at the Fernsehturm is all indoors. Tickets can be purchased on site or through the website.

Fernsehturm
PanoramastraBe 1
10178 0 Berlin – Mitte
00 49 (0) 30 242 3333
For restaurant reservations call 00 49 (0) 30 24 75 75 875

www.tv-turm.de

Jewish Museum
The Jewish Museum is located in the Kreuzberg neighborhood downtown and consists of two buildings: the old U-shaped building (below, right) which is where the entrance, shop, and restaurant are located; and the new building (below, left) which is an impressive piece of architecture designed by Daniel Libeskind who was inspired by a broken, dismantled Star of David in his design.

1230709988578Plan to spend the day here, especially if children are along as this place is one of the most engaging museums for kids we’ve ever visited.  The Jewish Museum is one of my daughter’s favorite museums and so we stayed until the doors closed. The new building is divided into four levels with the tour (self guided or with a guide) starting in the lower level, which is devoted to the Holocaust.  Some of the exhibits are too strong for young children but are appropriate for older children who have studied the Holocaust in school.  The tour then continues to Level 2 and works downwards to Level 1 and then to the ground level.  Levels 2 and 1 provide a history of Judaism and in each historical section, children are engaged in every room through exhibits and computers.

My daughter particularly loved the Pomegranate Tree which is a “tree” several floors tall in an atrium that has a winding staircase through the tree to the top.  Children are given a paper pomegranate and asked to write about what emancipation means to them and then hang their pomegranate anywhere on the tree, with the most popular spot the top of the tree.

Children are also introduced to historical figures that contributed to industries including cartoons, fashion, movies, and physics. There are coloring stations, pillowed sofas on the floor to watch cartoons (someone who really knows kids thought of this exhibit), and computers that ask kids questions in every room. My daughter was particularly affected by a question in which she was asked “Do you know anyone that doesn’t like someone because a person is Jewish?” My daughter truthfully answered no. After she answered, the computer tallied the day’s answers and told her that 72% of the people answered no but that 28% answered yes. The 28% struck my daughter as hard to comprehend – that someone would not like a person because that person is Jewish; a simple question and surprising collective answer really made my daughter think and ask questions about race and religion.

The Jewish Museum
LindenstraBe 9-14
10969 Berlin – Kreuzberg
00 49 (0) 30 259 93 30

www.jmberlin.de

The museum is open on Mondays from 10:00-10:00 and Tuesday-Sunday from 10:00-8:00. Closed on Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Christmas Eve.

Tiergarten Park
Tiergarten Park is the largest park in Berlin with more than 500 acres and 14 miles (23 kilometers) of paths to walk, run, and cycle.  In addition, there are waterways, memorials, playgrounds, and even a place to rent a boat during the warm months. The park is located in the central district of Mitte, with the Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf district forming the south-western boundary and reaching east close to the district of Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg to form the southeast border. The extensive pathway system provides an alternative to the city streets when crossing central Berlin through this rectangular shaped park.
Zoo Berlin,  Berlin Aquarium or Tierpark Berlin

Berlin has two zoos:  Zoo Berlin which is also known as the Berlin Zoological Gardens located in the Wilmersdorf neighborhood within the central district of Charlottesnburg-Wilmersdorg; and Tierpark Berlin which is the East Berlin counterpart located about 5 miles (8 kilometers) east from central Berlin in the neighborhood of Friedrichsfelde within the district of Lichtenberg.

canstockphoto11568269The Zoo Berlin is located just south of Tiergarten Park in the downtown area of Berlin and is easily accessible by foot, train, or bus.  This 84-acre zoo has been open since 1844 and contains 1,500 species and 17,000 animals in areas that resemble natural habitats. Well known for their animal feedings, the schedules are available on-line or available at the entrance gate.  The zoo also contains a “carnivore house” and a bird aviary.

Several restaurants are on-site and offer a variety of choices.  Open daily from 9:00-5:00 from Oct 4-March 19 and from 9:00-7:00 from March 20-October 3. Self guided tours, guided tours, and special meetings with animals and trainers are available.  The website provides basic information (opening and closing times, location, etc) in English but information on events and exhibits is in German.

Zoo Berlin
Kurfurstendamm 25
10719  Berlin – Wilmersdorf
00 49 (0) 30 884 370

www.zoo-berlin.de

The Berlin Aquarium is located on the same property as the Zoo Berlin and has been open since 1913. The Aquarium has more than 9,000 animals on three floors including a shark tank. Tickets to the aquarium are separate but combo tickets can be purchased if both the Zoo Berlin and the Aquarium will be visited on the same day.

800px-Berlin_aquariumZoo Aquarium Berlin
Budapester StraBe 32
10787 – Berlin – Tiergarten
00 49 (0) 30 254 01

www.aquarium-berlin.de

Tierpark Berlin is a 400 acre zoo that contains 950 species and 7,700 animals. Well known for their elephants, African primate house, and crocodile house, Tierpark Zoo is easily accessible by train, car, or bus and is open from 9:00-5:00 during the winter months and 9:00-7:00 during the summer months. Check the website for specific dates and times, which are listed. There is an on-site restaurant.

Tierpark Berlin
Am Tierpark 125
10319 Berlin – Friedrichsfelde
00 49 (0) 30 515 310

www.tierpark-berlin.de

Legoland Discovery Centre at Potsdamer Platz

On a rainy or cold day after a visit to a museum, consider a visit to Legoland at Potsdamer Platz in the Sony Center.  Located in central Berlin in the neighborhood of Tiergarten in the district of Mitte, Legoland has a dozen different play areas (a tour of how Legos are made, 3D cinema, a jungle trail, a mini-Berlin made with 1.5 million legos, a dragon quest ride, a lego car speed test track, remote-controlled pirate ships, an area for small children, a jungle gym, and even an area to build princess castles).

4860253100_6c725f57df_oThere is also a cafe and of course, a Lego shop. Legoland is open everyday from 10:00-7:00.

Legoland Discovery Centre
Potsdamer StraBe 4
10785 Berlin – Tiergarten

www.legolanddiscoverycentre.de

Christmas Markets
A visit to Berlin in late November to late December means the days are grey and short but the Christmas Markets render the city festive.  The Christmas Markets are open – approximately 60 of them – throughout the city. Gendarmenmarkt, a famous square in Mitte (a few blocks east of Tiergarten Park) has one of the most well known Christmas Markets (as pictured to the left) in Berlin.

canstockphoto4639222Christmas Markets offer all types of German foods including gingerbread, pastries, breads, sausages, cheeses, and more.  In addition, there are vendors selling ornaments and other handiworks.  Music, rides, concerts, ice skating rinks and more put everyone in a festive mood. Go to www.visitberlin.de for a comprehensive list and summary of the various Christmas markets.

KaDeWe
KaDeWe is Berlin’s leading department store and the huge flagship store in downtown Berlin is a great place to take kids to have lunch and do some shopping.  On the 7th floor, there is a wide variety of food choices in what is called “Lebuffet” that will please everyone. Or, the 6th floor offers a restaurant which is more limited but very relaxing.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAKids will want to stop by the toy department which carries a wide selection of top quality German brands: Playmobil, Ravensburger, Gothe, Haba, and more. There is also a ticket office on the 6th floor where tickets for virtually any event can be purchased. KaDeWe also has a wonderful selection of German candies, gummies, and chocolates.

KaDeWe Reisecenter
Tauentzienstr. 21-24
10789 Berlin – 
00 49 (0) 30 21 210

www.kadewe.de

And, finally some helpful hints:
  • Berlin can be grey, rainy, dark and cold during the Autumn and Winter so plan your day around the weather.
  • Berlin is divided into 12 districts and each district is further broken down into sub-districts or neighborhoods.  A few neighborhoods will have the same name as the district but most do not. Use a map that has the districts, neighborhoods, and streets listed because addresses tend to include the name of the neighborhood – not the district.
  • To better understand addresses, the street name is written followed by the number. On the next line, the Berlin zip code is written first followed by “Berlin” followed by the neighborhood name. For example: 10963 Berlin – Kreuzberg (This location is located in the Kreuzberg neighborhood which is in the district of Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg).
  • Most of the sites listed above are in the three central districts: Mitte, Charlottenberg-Wilersdorf, and Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg.
  • Many museums are closed Mondays.
  • If possible, stay in the downtown area in one of the three central districts listed above.
  • Public transportation is extremely reliable and punctual.
  • Be aware that the Germans can be a bit rigid with regards to rules and expected behavior of children.

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