Unter den Linden is Berlin’s historic museum center. Planted with linden trees in the 1600’s on a whim of Duke Frederick William to provide shade during his carriage ride, the street has since been home to a hot bed of history. Today, walking down its wide expanses, one can see the Brandenburger Tor, Pariser Platz, Humboldt University, the Komische Opera, the State Opera, and Museum Island.
Over the centuries, this street has changed according to the regime. In Prussian times, it held the royal resident palace that sat oposite from the still standing Altes Museum. During National Socialism, Babelplatz was the site of the famous book burning, and after WWII, all of the famous Lindon trees were cut down. After the separation of the city during the German Democratic Republic (GDR), the street was entirely blocked off and the old Prussian Palace, the Berliner Schloss, that had been partially destroyed in the bombing during the war was demolished to house the Palais der Republik, a boxy, metallic structure that held the GDR parliament, which has also since been demolished. After reunification, the street has been restored to a center of culture and remembrance.
Prepare your visit to Unter den Linden
When to visit Unter den Linden
Rain or shine, Unter den Linden can be visited all year round. Start from Pariser Platz and walk down to Museum Island. In winter sip Glühwein to keep warm while visiting museums. In summer, sun bathe in front of the Altes Museum on Unter den Linden’s wide streets.
How long is needed to visit Unter den Linden
Unter den Linden can be visited in a day. Plan to go into some museums such as the Altes Museum or the excellent German History Museum. End with a visit to the opera or to Maxim Gorki Theater. Walk through the historic Humboldt University campus. The Humboldt Forum, which will house the state Ethnology collection in the rebuilt Prussian palace (Berliner Schloss), is currently under construction but will be open in 2019.
What should I wear to visit Unter den Linden
Depending on if you are making a visit to the theater at night, Unter den Linden can be visited in casual clothing. Wear comfortable walking shoes. If you are going to the Opera or the theater at night, you should plan clothes that can transition to evening.
What is there to see in Unter den Linden
German History Museum
Germany’s history is a story of empire, regime change, fascism, and division. This museum has a permanent collection that spans centuries. It also details the crimes committed under National Socialism. A portion of the museum is dedicated to rotating exhibitions that investigate lesser known subjects of Germany’s past like the Red Army Faction, a group of leftist radical violent action that swept Germany in the 70s, or Germany’s history of colonialism.
Maxim Gorki Theater
This theater shows avant guarde plays by local and international directors. A favorite amongst the locals, the Maxim Gorki Theater is a staple to the Museum Island area. Maxim Gorki Theater is a fusion of an art house and a theater house. Expect non-conventional plays that borrow from visual art and performance art. Plays staged in German will have live English subtitles.
Tucked behind Unter den Linden, the Konzerthaus is in the Gendarmenmarkt between the Französischer Dom and the Deutscher Dom. In the winter, the Gendarmenmarkt is the site of one of Berlin’s most visited Christmas markets. Simply walk around the area in winter or summer and see a classical or modern musical concert. Tickets can be booked ahead of time and the yearly program is published on the website.