Representing a New Germany: An Architectural Photography Tour
Start - Marschallbrücke
Welcome, everybody, to the photography tour praising the architecture of the new governmental buildings in Berlin. My name is Steven, and I'll be showing you the best places to take photographs of these beautiful buildings.
You should be standing on the north side of the Marschallbrücke bridge, next to the Marie-Elisabeth-Lüders-Haus. Take a look alongside the Spree river and you will see the original section of the Marie-Elisabeth-Lüders-Haus, a large rectangular building. That's our first photo destination. But before we start snapping away, let's get a better view.
Can you see the pathway running alongside the river, with a row of trees on either side of it? That's where we'll be heading, so start walking down it now, with the water on your left.
VoiceMap uses GPS to pinpoint your location and trigger the relevant audio. This means you can put your phone away now and relax. I will tell you where to go.
For now, just follow the path to the front of the Marie-Elisabeth-Lüders House. I'll meet you there, and we'll take our first picture.
Start with the best view onto the old Reichstag
Now stop here, and turn to your right to look at the front of this magnificent building.
After the reunification of Berlin, the government moved their offices back here from Bonn, where they had resided until the end of World War Two. This move drove them to build new governmental buildings, because those built by the east German Democratic Republic weren't regarded as adequate.
They thought that the new buildings should represent a transparent democracy. That's why they have so many holes and glass fronts. The buildings are arranged in a line 2 kilometers long. This is so the federal chancellery and the Bundestag, a constitutional and legislative body, are visible from each building. This symbolizes a mutual control. The "Band of the Bund" crosses the Spree river twice, connecting the former East and West Berlin.
I've brought you here because of the amazing stairs. When standing at the bottom, you might be lucky enough to get a photograph with just a few people resting on them, which can be a strong image. If you climb to the top, you have the best view onto the Reichstag on the other side of the river, with its new transparent dome. You can get some great shots from there.
When you're ready to get going, return to the bottom of the steps. Then continue walking along the river, keeping it close on your left hand side.
In front of Marie-Elisabeth-Lüders-Haus and the washing mashine.
Stop here for a moment.
This is one of most atmospheric places on our walk today. This space gives us the chance to capture some stunning and surprising views. You may discover new perspectives of the Elisabeth-Lüders House on your right. Pay attention to the interesting shapes of its roof.
[2 SECOND PAUSE]
Now turn and look across the river. You also can't miss the opportunity to photograph the reflection in the glass facade of the building on the other side, which is the Paul-Lüder House. Due to its squat, circular column, the so-called washing machine gives us some interesting perspectives, too. These rounded windows are framed by a mask made of concrete.
Stepping back to capture a wider field of vision is the most valuable hint here. Compose a picture of the round section with pieces of the angular roof shapes. By getting as low as possible, you can juxtapose this modern architecture with the ancient building of the Reichstag.
Once you've taken enough pictures, walk a little further along the river until you reach the narrow pedestrian bridge. The stairs up to the bridge are just behind the large structure with huge circular holes in it. Cross to the other side of the river, playing with the views and taking some pics on your way. I'll meet you on the other side.
Back to the River
All right, now turn around and walk back towards the river. There are two sets of stairs taking you back down to the riverbank – go down either one of those, and I'll meet you at the bottom.
Now face the river and turn right. Then walk along the water's edge to the front of the building opposite the Marie-Elisabeth-Lüders House. I'll meet you there.
Down in the middle - Paul-Löbe-Haus
Now stop here, and get your camera ready.
From this point there are stunning views in nearly every direction. There are a few exceptional things to mention, though.
Turn so that you're facing the glass facade of the Paul-Löbe-Haus. Take a look inside and you'll see its stunning geometry, such simple geometric figures yet so excellently arranged. There was not enough money to build this structure from black and white Carrara marble and black granite, so it was built out of concrete and some stone. Nonetheless, this building is a piece of art.
The round shapes you can see through the glass are formed by conference rooms with round tables. As they are 8 in number, their assembly is called an 8-cylinder. Looking through the glass, you can see 4 on the left and 4 on the right.
[2 SECOND PAUSE]
You may have already noticed the round extension to the building, just to your left. Up there is biggest conference conference room, where they deal with matters relating to the European Union. On ground level is one of the most beautiful cafeterias I have ever seen. I recommend you find a good perspective to take a picture of the assembly of colored lamps on the ground floor, in a moment.
[2 SECOND PAUSE]
Now I'd like to show you the artwork by Neo Rauch called the "man on the ladder". This piece of art is made up of two 10m high neon figures. One is mounted inside the building. The other one is on the back wall of the round EU-conference room and cafeteria building. Have you found them yet? Due to the reflection in the glass facade, you can see both of them, regardless if you are inside the building or outside. The figures are greeting each other.
I'll leave you alone now, to capture some of the beautiful architecture in this space. When you're ready to get going again, keep walking along the river, going past the Paul-Löbe-Haus and the round conference centre.
Above Spree river - Stunning view
Climb up the steps in front of you. When you get to the top, turn around and look back at the buildings we just came from.
This is one of the most stunning views of the two structures we've seen so far. From here you can take one photo including the two level bridge, the washing machine and the front of the Elisabeth-Lüders-Haus. Beautiful, especially at night using a tripod and long exposure.
Once you've finished snapping away, turn away from the river. Then walk alongside the back of the Paul-Löbe-Haus on your right. Keep it close on your right-hand side. I'll meet you a little further down the wall for another great photo opportunity.
In front of one of the 8-cylinders
Stop here. Our next photo opportunity is on your right, in the form of the large, cylindrical glass offices you can see through the wide gaps in the tall concrete wall. These are the 8-cylinders we saw through the glass of the Paul-Löbe-Haus, a moment ago.
Choose one or several of the cylinders. The round shape works excellently in contrast with the flat wall.
There are several artworks around them. One of these pieces is made from the steel construction beams that held supporting wooden walls in place while the tall concrete walls were being built.
Another one is made of two circular projections, one of a man and one of dog. Their profiles have been made round, but when the sun shines through it, its shadow gives the aforementioned shape. So if you're here at the right time of day, don't miss a quick snap of this piece of art.
Watch the employees of the Bundestag doing their work, and try not to fall asleep. When you're ready, continue straight down the lane with the Paul-Löbe-haus on your right. I'll be back when you reach the corner of the building.
Right, Around Paul-Löbe-Haus
Turn right here, and walk around the Paul-Löbe-Haus. Then make your way onto the open square in front of the entrance, with its alternating strips of grass and paving. I'll meet you there.
Bundestag - Paul-Löbe-Haus
Walk into the centre of this space. Then turn to look back at the Paul-Löbe-Haus for another great view of this fascinating building. From this angle you have good perspective of the front as a whole, with the geometric elements like the stairs visible through the glass. If you're lucky and you're here at the right time, a sunset will be mirrored in the glass facade.
You might also want to turn around and take your first picture of the federal chancellory, the "Bundeskanzleramt". It's just on the other side of the road opposite the Paul-Löbe-Haus. You can't miss its twin wings extending towards you. Don't worry, though. We'll get a closer look in just a moment.
When you're ready to move on, turn away from the Paul-Löbe-Haus. Then walk straight across the square towards the federal chancellery, the building ahead, and carefully cross the road. I'll meet you in the square in front of the chancellery.
Now walk to the centre of this open space, and stop. We're going to take a picture of this building facing the square, which is the Bundeskanzleramt, or Federal Chancellery.
This structure offers us a great photo opportunity, because it has a more three dimensional geometry. Try and find a spot that lines up the two sides of the building, so that you get a nice, symmetrical shot. If you move close to the gate and use a wide angle lens, you'll get a feeling of being immersed into the scenery.
The chancellery is one of the most stunning structures in Berlin. Right in front of it is a sculpture by Eduardo Chillida. Can you see it? It's made up of two rusted metal columns that tangle and join in the middle, representing the opposing notions of unity and separation.
This piece of art by the Spanish artist has been honoured by being placed right in front of the Bundeskanzleramt, which is itself a work of art.
Before we head off, you might want to take another shot of the Paul-Löbe-Haus, behind you. Using a telephoto lens will help give you get a geometrically pleasing and sober picture.
Well, you've got lots of pictures to take, so I'll leave you for a while. When you'd like to carry on going to our next spot, walk up to the gates in front of the Bundeskanzleramt. Then turn right, and walk along the paved area until you reach the road. I'll tell you what to do next when you get there.
Cross Otto von Bismark
Now cross the road in front of you, over the island. I'll meet you at the start of the path, just to the left of the flat-roofed stone building on the other side of the road.
Straight Along the Path
Great! We're going to walk along this pathway until we reach a bridge going over the Spree River. Just keep heading straight, crossing over the road up ahead.
To the Bridge
That's it, you're almost there. Continue along the path until you reach the pedestrian bridge. I'll meet you there.
Stunning view onto the new central station (Hauptbahnhof)
Okay, now stop here for a moment and look straight across the bridge. The big glass building, flanked by two glass towers, is Lehrter Bahnhof, Berlin's main railway station.
It cost 1.2 billion Euros to build, and the construction was 4 times more expensive than planned. It opened before the start of the soccer world cup in 2006, which took place in Germany.
You can't help but enjoy the stunning view from this vantage point. From here you may combine a shot of the central station with the leading line of the pedestrian bridge.
To the left you see the next bridge along the river, called the Moltkebrücke. It's covered with massive red sandstone and many sculptures. It is worth taking a photograph of it from this bridge.
Once you've captured the station and the Moltkebrücke, walk to the end of the bridge and turn left.
Turn left on Rahel-Hirsch-Strasse
Now turn left and walk on the pavement right next to the road, following the river towards the next bridge.
You're on the right track. Carry on following the road, with the river on your left. I'll meet you at the next bridge.
Over the Bridge
Now cross the road ahead via the pedestrian crossing.
Stunning view onto Bundeskanzleramt
Stop here for a moment, and look to your left, across the river. Do you recognise the large, angular building with the extension on top? The extension has a glass semi-circle in it. No? That's the Bundeskanzleramt, the Federal Chancellery building which we photographed earlier. From here you get a good perspective of this structure, and it's definitely worth a quick photo.
When you're done, go down the stairs in front of you. Then continue walking along the river.
To the Last Stop
Just keep following this pathway, keeping the river close to your left-hand side. We're on our way to our last stop on this tour. It's a few minutes away, so I'll leave you in silence to enjoy the walk along the water.
Backside view onto Bundeskanzleramt
Now stop here. This is our last photo opportunity, and it's a special position.
Look back, across the river, at the long concrete structure joined to the back of the Bundeskanzleramt. Appreciate the light architecture, and use its leading lines to frame your photo.
You can also take some pics of the House of the World's Cultures. That's the building with the arched roof, just to the right of the Bundeskanzleramt.
And don't forget to shoot the golden Victoria statue on the "Siegessäule", or the Berlin Victory Column. That's the winged statue you can see hovering above the trees, if you look down the river in the direction we've been walking. From here, it's seen in picturesque scenery over the Spree river.
Take your time here, and make the most of the spectacular perspectives and lighting.
It's time for me to say goodbye. To get back to our original start point, turn around and walk back along the river. Keep following the water and you'll arrive back at the Marie-Elisabeth-Lüders-Haus. Along the way, you'll find the central railway station we saw earlier, which connects to most of the train lines in Berlin.
If you're feeling a little hungry or thirsty, there's a biergarten and restaurant called Zollpackhof on the road that runs along the river, just above the path you're on now. To get there, walk back to the bridge, go up the stairs, and then walk away from the bridge along narrow road.
You could also return to the first bridge we crossed, where we had a view of the train station. On the opposite side from the station, and below the bridge, there's a wonderful beach bar down at the river.
I hope you've enjoyed this tour, and that you have fun taking pics around the rest of Berlin too. That's it from me. Auf Wiedersehen, and goodbye!