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Germany's capital is a sprawling city, however, five of Berlin's best museums can be found in one easy location. The buildings that comprise Museumsinsel - otherwise known as museum island - are a worthy travel destination even apart from the priceless art and artifacts that they contain.
A hundred-year-old project
The visionary project of museum island is elegantly self-referential. Construction began in 1824 with the Altes museum, shortly followed by the Neus Museum in 1943. However, the following two museums were delayed two decades apart, with the Alte Nationalgalerie starting construction in 1866 and the Bode-museum in 1897. The final component to the complex was the Pergamon Museum in 1930. Because of this spaced apart construction - which spans over 100 years - museum island is now a museum of museums.
These structures offer insight into architectural designs and interests of a century's time. The Altes is a classicist plain two-story structure with a dome that mimics ancient Greek architecture. This is a clear indication of the Age of Enlightenment's interest in antiquity. The Neues museum replicates some of the Altes, design but boasts its own stylistic developments, including a heavily decorated interior. The Bode-museum is a distinctly neo-Baroque design. The Pergamon Museum brings in its own interpretation of neoclassicism with a three-winged structure that frames a pavilion lined with columns.
Covering human civilization
While each museum is a sight in its own right, the five combined form a panoramic view of human civilization, displaying art and artifacts that range from ancient times to the 20th century.
The Altes Museum, otherwise known as the Old Museum, is home to antiquities from the Etruscans, Greeks and Romans. The Neues Museum, however, dates back even further, housing three collections: The Egyptian Museum and Papyrus Collection, the Museum of Prehistory and Early History, and an extended collection of classical antiquities.
The Bode Museum, meanwhile, is home to an expansive collection of Byzantine Art, as well as a host of sculptures ranging from the middle ages to the 18th century. There, one can find works from Italian as well as German schools of art.
The Alte Nationalgalerie is the Old National Gallery, and hosts some of the more intriguing collections on museum island. There, visitors will find art from the era spanning the French Revolution to the First World War. The second floor boasts masterpieces of the Impressionist movement, including works by Manet, Monet, Renoir and Degas.
Finally, the Pergamon is an eclectic collection, containing famed classical antiquities such as a reconstructed version of the Pergamon altar - for which the museum is named - artifacts of the ancient near east, and a museum of Islamic art.
Look down in wonder at Buckingham Palace, the Palace of Westminster and St Paul’s Cathedral from your glass-walled pod on the London Eye, then gaze out over the Louvre and the Champs-Elysees from the top of the Eiffel Tower.
The scent of rich pine forests lingers in the breeze as the 13th-century ruins of Turaida Castle are revealed before your eyes in the lush Gauja River valley in a medieval sanctuary untouched by the march of time.
The aroma of dark roasted Viennese coffee hangs thick in the air as you tread the cobblestone laneways and bask in the elegant architecture, atmospheric cafes and refined restaurants in one of the most beautiful cities in Eastern Europe.
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