About Arja J
Lives in Berlin, Germany
Since Oct 2012
35-49 year old female
Hello, my name is Arja and I´m a tour guide in Berlin with my own little company Berlin Locals! My greatest passion are the stories in and around Berlin reaching back into the good and the bad old times. With my grandpa and mum being from former Eastern Berlin I feel a strong connection to Berlin even though I grew up in Western Germany. After years of traveling and working as a journalist and tour guide all over Europe there was no doubt for me that I would want to live in Berlin and even after years of living here I am still intruiged by finding out something new about this fascinating city every day – so let me share it with you!
Speciality Museums, Points of Interest & Landmarks
Architectural Buildings, Points of Interest & Landmarks, Speciality Museums
Speciality Museums, History Museums
Natural History Museums, Science Museums
Monuments & Statues, Educational sites
The biggest connected museum complex built in the 19th century, Museum Island houses some of the finest art collections in Berlin - although not many are related to Berlin itself. In the Old Museum, you can find the Etruscan and Roman collections; in the New Museum, the Egyptian collection; in the Pergamon Museum, the altar of Pergamon and the gates of Babylon; sculptures in the Bode Museum, and a fabulous collection of paintings in the Old National Gallery. In the latter particularly, look out for the brilliant portraits of Frederick the Great by Adolf von Menzel, as well as paintings by Eduard Gärtner, which will give you a great impression of Berlin during the 19th century.
The German Historical Museum is the best museum for anyone wanting to delve into German history. The building itself is spectacular - being the oldest on the Unter den Linden street, and the former armory of the Royal Palace. Look out for the golden face of King Frederick I above the door, and all the military references found in the decoration of the building. During the time of the Third Reich, the building was used for an exhibition about the role of Germany in World War I, and every year on commemoration day, Adolf Hitler held a speech in the glass-covered courtyard right behind the ticket counter. The museum takes you through the entire turbulent history of Germany, through a mix of documents, clothes, letters, maps and artefacts. It is also worth checking out the special exhibitions, which always focus on current events and anniversaries.
The Museum of Technology is great for everyone, particularly kids who like to touch as well as to look at things. The museum looks immediately intriguing from the outside, with a huge airplane perched atop its roof. Once an ice factory, the massive building is full of things to explore, from the best of technological history and achievements in film and communication, to scientific instruments, textiles and paper production. In huge halls, you'll find planes, ships, and one of the world's largest railway collections. Always wanted to know how the Emperor travelled? Have a look at his wagon!
The Jewish museum is a must-see in Berlin, and not only because it is the biggest Jewish museum in Europe. The magnificent building was designed by architect Daniel Liebeskind, and I highly recommend taking a walk around the exterior before visiting to get a good first impression of what awaits inside - architecture and exhibits work hand in hand in this museum! You will be taken on an intriguing journey through Jewish history, starting from the very beginning in a beautiful warm and brightly lit room. Then, slowly, as the oppression of the Jewish people becomes more frequent and brutal throughout the centuries - finally accumulating in the horrors of the holocaust - the building, the lights, and the temperature around you begin to change. It is a very powerful experience.
Housed in a part of its own former headquarters, the Stasi Museum tells the history of Staatssicherheit (state security), the secret service of Communist Eastern Germany. House 1, where the museum is located, was the secret seat and office of the head of the Stasi, Erich Mielke, and appeared as an anonymous white spot on the maps of Berlin. Stepping inside is like stepping into another century - the whole building is completely preserved, and you can walk through the conference rooms, offices and hallways of the people who terrorized a whole country with their espionage as though they were still in operation. The exhibition itself is lacking in content, but the atmosphere more than makes up for this.
Otto Weidt´s workshop of the blind is one of the gems among Berlin´s museums, being one of the very few places to remain in its original location. In the backyard of Rosenthaler Strasse 39, Otto Weidt produced brushes during Third Reich times, employing mainly blind Jewish people to work with him. Through this work, he tried to save them from deportation - which sometimes worked and sometimes didn´t. The stories of his workers can be found in the rooms of the museum, along with information about Otto Weidt himself. In the final room, you will see a wardrobe standing against the wall - not an actual piece of furniture, but a facade which once concealed an entrance to a room where people hid when his workshop was raided.
Berlin is one of the greatest film cities in Europe, and in the Museum for Film you can delve into the glamorous world of the stars from the most famous movies produced here or starring the city. Metropolis, One two three, The Blue Angel, Goodbye Lenin - you'll find them all here. There're also rooms dedicated entirely to the film costumes and dresses of Marlene Dietrich, the props from Metropolis, corridors made of mirrors, and Berlin's movie history - from silent movies, through the roaring Twenties and Third Reich times, to East and West movies and the modern day. If you are a film enthusiast of any kind, don't miss this unique movie experience!
Have you ever had a football match with a robot? If not, the Museum for Communication lets you do exactly this in its glass-covered courtyard. But of course, there is a lot more to discover and do yourself here - send each other tube mails, see what happens when you press buttons at different installations, and gaze upon a post wagon broken down into little pieces. Down in the basement of this impressive building, you can see one of the most valuable stamps in the world, while upstairs you can explore an original enigma machine. The museum also has fantastic temporary exhibitions, so keep a lookout for these during your visit.
For all nature and animal lovers, the Natural History museum is the number one place to be in Berlin. Families with kids will particularly enjoy this museum - start in its first big hall which features huge dinosaur skeletons and great video installations showing how each dinosaur looked, walked, and ate. After that, there's plenty more to see, including a gigantic collection of gems and diamonds, the fossil department, stuffed animals and preserved fish.
The Memorial to the murdered Jews of Europe was finished in 2005, and since then both it and the museum underneath it have become must-sees whilst in Berlin. What makes this holocaust museum so impressive is that the exhibition not only focuses on the big picture of six million murdered people, but also manages to show that every single one of these six million was an individual person with a story behind him or her - you can read the stories of individual families and find out what happened to every single member, including the stories of their lives in the cases where they survived. One room displays notes found along the train tracks leading into the extermination camps, which people on the trains threw out - a very powerful experience!