Cornucopia’s travel guide

Berlin


Germany is well known today for its large population of Turkish citizens. But Berlin's connection to Turkey and the Ottoman Empire has a long heritage, notably with the building of the Baghdad railway intended to link Berlin with the then Ottoman city of Baghdad, via Istanbul. Berlin's Museuminsel (Museum Island) is a wonder. Destroyed, like much of the city, in the second world war, it fell to the Soviet sector and was gradually restored under the German Democratic Republic. The Soviets took some of the treasures as war reparations, including Heinrich Schiemann's Treasures of Priam that he supposedly found at Troy, and these are the subject of continuing dialogue between the German, Russian and Turkish authorities.
What you will see

Berlin is home to Germany’s great academic orientalism. Today it is still a city with a strong academic and museological identity, and its great treasures of the Ottoman-German alliance are thoughtfully and thought-provokingly displayed. These can be see in the treasure houses on Museum Island built from the gifts exchanged between Kaiser Wilhelm II and Adulhamid II. The highlight is the Pergamon Museum, custom-made for the stunning Pergaman Altar. Upstairs are room after room of astonishing Islamic treasures, which recently acquired the fabulous Edmund de Unger’s Kier Collection of Islamic art. The carpets in particular are a reminder of Berlin’s crucial role in the study of carpets as an art form. In 2015 the whole of the Museumsinsel will reopen, redeveloped and reconnected. The Islamic galleries will double in size. The antiquities collection is divided between the Pergamon Museum an the Altes Museum, the oldest museum on the island. Meanwhile the Neues Museum, jaw-droppingly restored by David Chipperfield, and the Bodemuseum hold other gems from Byzantium and Middle Eastern Empires.