Berlin, a multi-faceted and versatile city

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Giulia Scerri discusses the latest ‘must visit’ city of Berlin and compares it to London, in terms of the music scene, street art and lifestyle.

Described by Mayor Klaus Wowerweit as “sexy but poor”, Berlin is slowly becoming the new indie and hip city, flourishing with culture and creativity. Over the past couple of years, it has become a magnet for young generations and contemporary artists. But why has this come about?

Berlin is an inspiring city because it reflects the rapid succession of various cultures and trends. It is intriguing because it is multi-faceted and versatile. The collision of different and opposing styles makes Berlin especially appealing to young people from all over the world. They set new trends and, with their individualised lifestyles, are a part of the creative atmosphere that the city generates.

This can be seen in their unique fashion sense where many young people like to mix old and new. Their style is vibrant, and occasionally scruffy. This is enhanced by the plethora throughout Berlin of wonderful vintage shops and thrift shops, which are definitely worth rummaging through. The key to finding vintage treasures in such shops is patience and a lot of dedication, vision and creativity. There is no better feeling than when you discover a ‘treasure’.

Has Berlin become the new London? London has become a cosmopolitan mixture, therefore it may be said that the English touch within the city is being lost. The city’s lifestyle is fast-paced. Everyone has a specific destination and goal that has to be reached in a limited time span. This can be observed in a train station at 8 in the morning: Londoners with cups of coffee in their hands, power-walking and rushing without the patience to wait on the escalators.

Apart from being cheaper, Berlin is overflowing with art, exhibited both in galleries and streets. Practically every corner is  filled with art, from broken-down buildings covered with incredible graffiti to aristocratic marvels of architecture. Art critic Emilie Trice describes Berlin as “the graffiti Mecca of the urban art world.” From ‘Linda’s Ex’ posters to XOOOOX black and white stencils, street art in Berlin is a big industry. It is not exactly legal, but the adapted title of UNESCO’s City of Design has kept local authorities from being able to bring about  much  change what observers call the most “bombed” city in Europe.

Visitors to Berlin are immediately presented with the city’s character, that is, Europe’s most politically charged and urban canvas monument – the Berlin Wall.

Apart from art, another interesting aspect in Berlin is the fine mixture of different genres of music. It is Europe’s Techno Mecca; however, the scene also varies from punk to jazz and everything in between. The city is alive with all kinds of music and is responsible for setting the trend in all types of genres. The Berlin music venues run the ranges from big name concert halls to smoky jazz joints and every star in the music world comes through town to light up the stages and rock all night with the rest of the city’s residents. In the midst of the latest international trends, you can feel the city’s exceptional vitality and dynamism.

Although London has a number of nightclubs, pubs are more dominant, having thousands of them. Berlin is well known for its spectacular nightlife. From techno in grimy basements to outdoor performances, Berlin caters for every taste. An exceptional thing about Berliner nightclubs is that they can remain open all night!

A Berliner’s life is dominated by the reminders of the crimes committed in wartime Germany and history has certainly shaped the city. It is scarred with buildings that form its culture and history. It is a series of encounters, from the Jewish Museum and the Topography of Terror to the Stasi Museum. An emotional roller coaster occurs when visiting these museums. It is bitter-sweet: a tragic experience mixed with amazing cultural aspects.

One cannot deny that Berlin is a mystifying city. It is the ultimate place for people who love street art, underground music, indie and thrift shops to visit.