Welcome to Berlin! Have you ever visited this city? What do you know about it?
Watch the video and then decide if the statements are true or false.
How well did you understand the video? Do the quiz and you’ll see it.
The reunited city
Listen to and read the text about Berlin. Pay attention to the words in bold as you will need them to do the exercises afterwards.
A brief history of Berlin
Very few cities speak of the history of the 20th century in so much detail like Berlin does. Berlin, the capital of Germany and one of the most multicultural cities in the world, was greatly affected by several wars in the past century. As such, this city stands as an important witness to the turbulent history of the continent, but also as a representative of a united, peaceful and diverse Europe.
- Berlin remained a small settlement for many centuries until it merged with the city of Colln, located on the other side of the Spree River.
- In the late 17th century, Berlin became famous as a haven for religious and economic refugees, which helped it develop further.
- In 1701, the city became the capital of Prussia. Until the beginning of the 20th century, its economy kept growing immensely.
- Having been defeated in World War I, Germany was forced to pay reparations, and this led the living standard to deteriorate.
- During World War II, Berlin was nearly burnt to the ground due to numerous bombings which resulted in Germany’s defeat.
- After several decades of being a divided city, Berlin united and grew into one of the most prosperous places in the world.
Check how well you understood the text.
Do the following exercises. Read carefully the tasks before completing the sentences.
East Berlin and Berlin Wall
After World War II, Germany was divided amongst the winning powers. East Berlin subsequently fell into the hands of the Soviets, who installed a communist regime in the entire East Germany.
The differences in the living conditions in these different parts of the city became visible really quickly, and the developed West became more attractive to people.
To make sure nobody escapes from East Berlin, East Germans permanently closed the border between East and West by building a wall – now known as the Berlin Wall – which stretched through the entire city. The wall was constantly monitored by soldiers stationed in more than 300 watchtowers.
Although the Wall was torn down in 1989 and East and West were united again, some remnants of the wall are still kept in the city and available for tourists to see. Nowadays, the former East Berlin has evolved into a vibrant cultural hub. This part of the city now gathers numerous artists, who paint on walls and organize exhibitions. It is also where students and young people hang out.
Do the exercises below. Here’s a tip for you: while doing the task with the synonyms, choose a verb for another verb, a noun for another noun, an adverb for another adverb, etc. It always helps when you’re not sure about the meanings.
Although built in the 18th century on the orders of Prussian king Frederick to celebrate an important victory, the Brandenburg Gate has become a symbol of modern Berlin. When East and West Germany were divided, the gate actually became a part of the Berlin Wall and was incorporated into the border between two countries.
For this reason, the Brandenburg Gate today is a proof of a unified Germany, but also as the best symbol of peace and prosperity in the whole of Europe. Being a rather central point in the city, the gate attracts great numbers of tourists.
There’s a summary of this part, but some words from the text are missing. Try to put them back to make the sentences complete.
The Reichstag, located near the Brandenburg Gate, currently serves as the German Parliament building. The building was the center of German political power until 1933, when it was set on fire and severely damaged.
After that, the building was not used for political purposes, and was only renovated and rediscovered in 1999.
At the top of the Reichstag lies a large glass dome, which offers a 360-degree view of the Berlin cityscape. Prior registration is needed if you want to join one of the free tours of the building and should be made well in advance, particularly to visit the dome or the terrace.
Berlin Cathedral, also known as Berlin Dome, is one of the most magnificent buildings in Berlin. Although it looks like it’s centuries old, the current building was only finished in 1905. Yet, the site of the cathedral has been an important place of worship since the 15th century. Its roof and windows were reconstructed after World War II, but the church interior still offers a number of older decorations and ornaments worth seeing.
What do you remember about the Reichstag and Berlin Cathedral?
The following task checks your knowledge of the Reichstag and Berlin Cathedral.
Did you get it right?
Now let’s see how well you understand some words and expressions from the text.
Record yourself. Summarize what you’ve learnt about Berlin in this lesson. The following questions may help you:
- Where is Berlin situated?
- When did it become the capital of Germany?
- When did it start developing rapidly? Why?
- What are the attractions of Berlin?
- Have you ever been to Berlin? If yes, what did you like there? If not, would you like to visit it?