A few weeks into my Europe trip, while I was in Spain, I developed a tradition of taking a night walk around the town I was in on the final night of my stay in that town. I did this in a number of cities such as Barcelona, Avignon, Florence, Rome, Venice, Budapest, Vienna, Prague and lastly, Berlin.
For my night walk in Berlin, I took the U-Bahn to Alexanderplatz, which is right next to Berlin’s famous TV tower. Below is a picture of the tower.
From there I walked westwards in the direction of Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag. In my various night walks I learned that some cities are better at night than others. Berlin, sadly, was a bit disappointing. I had read that Berlin has some of Europe’s best nightlife, but it seems I misinterpreted that to mean that the city looked good at night. Surprisingly, there was hardly anyone walking around town that night and the city felt strangely empty (everyone must have been at the clubs and bars). Museum Island, which has the Berlin Cathedral (aka the Berliner Dom) as well as most of Berlin’s most famous museums, was almost completely dark. The various monuments on the street that leads from Museum Island to Brandenburg Gate were also strangely dark, and it looked like my Berlin night walk was going to be a total loss.
But then I arrived at Brandenburg Gate. For those of you who don’t know, Brandenburg Gate is one of the few surviving structures of old Prussian Berlin (from back before Germany was a unified nation). During the day the place is pretty crowded with tourists and street performers. While it looks great during the day, as I learned that night, the true magic of Brandenburg Gate comes out when the sun goes down. The tourist crowd leaves, and the gate is set ablaze with an almost golden glow. It is one of those sights that you just stand and stare at for a minute. I took a photo, which I have embedded below, though it does not really capture the splendor.
From Brandenburg Gate I moved on to the nearby Reichstag, (the home of the German parliament) where I finished the walk and got the inspiration for the title of this post. After the reunification of Germany, it was decided that the capital would be returned to Berlin, and the Reichstag had some remodeling done to it. The most notable change was the construction of a large glass dome on the roof. During the day the dome channels sunlight into the main chamber of the German parliament, and at night the light from inside the building is sent skyward, creating a faint tower of light. Below is a photo, though you can’t really see the light from the dome.
On the west side of the building, I found myself just staring at the Reichstag. Somewhere in the distance I heard a symphony playing an orchestral song. There was a brief period where a single instrument (I think it was an oboe) played, and I can still remember the tune. I stood there listening for a few minutes listening and looking at the Riechstag before I left. A walk that had started out as a great disappointment had been redeemed at the end of the journey.