Officially founded in the 1237, recent finds by state archaeologists may prove that Berlin could actually be 54 years older. Berlin had its beginning from two villages, Berlin and Cölln, situated on the present-day site of Museum Island.

Berlin went through a major facelift in the 18th and 19th centuries.  Between 1740 and 1786, under the rule of both King Friedrich Wilhelm I (the Soldier King) and his successor Friedrich II (Frederick the Great), Berlin progressed to become Prussia's leading industrial city. As Berlin went through this phase of stability and prosperity, the city was nourished.  By 1877 the population had swelled to more than a million, railways and transport system were expanded, and benefits from the industrial revolution was thoroughly utilised. Frederick the Great also had a particular interest in sponsoring the sciences, art, and culture, thus Berlin became a magnet for the intellectually inclined. This could be the underlying spirit of inspiration that today lingers in Berlin, the City of Design.

However in 1929, the Great Depression landed in Berlin in disarray. Inflation is higher than ever, 664 businesses go bankrupt while more than 450,000 people are unemployed. Such circumstances lead to demonstrations and violent unrests which marks the month of “Bloody May”, where more than 30 people were killed and several hundred injured. In 1932, the number of jobless people climbed to 630,000 by year’s end.

The National Socialist Party managed to secure it’s seating in Parliament amidst the desperate situation of the city. Adolf Hitler’s rise to power saw the end of democracy in Germany and the darkest days for Berlin begin unfolding. In 1933, he became German Chancellor and initiated a programme of persecution against Jews, communists, homosexuals, political opponents and many others.  While Berlin was never the centre of Hitler’s Nazi activities, it saw its first concentration camp opened just outside the city in Sachsenhausen near Oranienburg, for regime opponents who had been arrested. Berliners hiding Jews were unsung heroes, saving some 1,200 individuals through their civil courage.

World War II began on 1st September 1939 when Berlin’s population had risen to 4.5 million. Bombs showered the city throughout the war and eventuallythe city (and country)  surrender on 8th May 1945, with a devastating loss of the city’s historic buildings and living spaces.

Recovery after WW II was divided into four sectors by the Allies; the United States, the United Kingdom, the French and the Soviet Union. The opposing governance of the city resulted in a cold war that eventually led to the isolation of West Berlin. The Berlin Wall was erected on 13th August 1961, leaving only a few strictly guarded crossing points. It was impossible for those living in East Berlin to travel to or visit family in West Berlin. Anyone caught trying to cross over the wall were shot. When John F. Kennedy visited the city in 1963, a limited travel permit scheme was introduced. The huge waiting area at the central train station Friedrichstraße became known as the Tränenpalast (Palace of Tears).

In 1989, a misleading press statement led to the opening of the Berlin Wall and allowed East Berliners across the border at Bösebrücke.  However, this error exploded into a final decision and people of the East and West climbed up onto, and breaching the wall, and let loose with celebration that was broadcast worldwide.

Today, Berlin is a hotpot of cultures and the destination for all wanting an experience of past hidden in the present. Awarded the “City of Design” by UNESCO, Berlin has certainly come a long way from it tragic past.