Twenty-five years since the Berlin wall was reduced to shards of rocks and rubble, the city celebrates a landmark month during which it was also named the ‘most fun’ in the world, according to a recent online survey.
The collapse of the wall was of far greater significance than the destruction of geographical boundaries, but rather the abolition of both emotional and psychological limitations, breathing new life into a previously paralysed city.
The newfound freedom was embraced by Berliners, Easterners and Westerners alike, as the rubble of the wall was used to build the foundations of what is today a cultural hub, an urban utopia for party-goers and sightseers alike.
Germany’s metropolis is one which possesses a unique hybridity; the ghosts of its recent history roam the periphery of its vibrant present, fuelled by an unparalleled energy and desire to capitalise on its rebirth.
The past however is not drowned out amidst a myriad of underground nightclubs and techno hotspots, but rather acknowledged by a cultural milieu, a series of street murals and historical landmarks which is epitomised by the Holocaust Memorial Museum.
Visitors to Berlin are encouraged to visit these landmarks, to experience the tragedy that befell Berlin, to share in Berlin’s remorse in order to gain a greater insight into Berlin’s present.
Berlin’s remorse has manifested itself in a carpe diem type attitude, one which embraces and cherishes all aspects of life. The result is a playground of interconnecting cultures and peoples, a city that lives and functions without boundaries.
Berlin’s individual functionality is matched only by its functional individuality, a city where the personal and the public intersect, where business and pleasure coexist. The morning subway carriage bears testimony to such a dichotomy, where party-goers and businessmen converge on their respective journeys, and the passengers’ attention is as likely to be captivated by a street-performer as it is by a ticket-inspector.
The question remains as to whether or not Berlin can sustain such a unique ecosystem. Presently, the city resembles a rebellious teenager, at an age where it acts in spite of its parent generation; but what happens when the teenager emerges from the stupor of adolescence? Will Berlin eventually settle into a 9-5 lifestyle, trudging towards the subterfuge of the weekend, or has the current generation of Berliners left too lasting of an impression for any future generations to break the current trend?
Contemporary Berlin is a symbol of hybridity and acceptance, a paradigm of hipster-modernity which sweeps the continent. However, unlike the fad of modernity, Berlin’s identity is not fleeting. Against a backdrop of impressive infrastructure and exciting enterprises, Berlin has cemented her place among Europe’s elite.
Berlin’s street murals function as a sleeve of tattoos on the skin of the city, forever there for all to see, whilst cultural landmarks such as the site of the Berlin wall and a tapestry of museums resemble a multitude of scars that cannot be ignored. Future generations are destined to continue the carpe diem trend, and with it, Berlin will surely remain one of the world’s ‘most fun’ cities.
Photo: grolli77/ Flickr