12 sights and experiences you're probably missing in Potsdamer Platz

Potsdamer Platz, Berlin - one of the city's most popular tourist attractions, but are you seeing everything it has to offer?

Tourists flock to this regenerated city quarter, but even one of Berlin's most popular attractions has more to offer than immediately meets the eye.

Discover hidden treats in and around Potsdamer Platz with our insider guide to the sights and experiences that many simply miss.

A GDR watchtower where East met West

GDR watchtower at Erna-Berger-Straße, Potsdamer Platz, Berlin

It's the last of its type in Berlin: a mushroom-shaped watchtower standing near the former border between East and West Berlin.

Now hidden at the end of a sidestreet just off Potsdamer Platz, for a small fee you can climb to the cramped observation deck and marvel at the fact that this GDR relic once surveyed a vast expanse of ruined no-man's-land.

Berlin Wall watchtower: Erna-Berger-Straße, 10785 Berlin. Opening times: daily from 11am-4pm, except when raining.

Berlin's most luxurious brunch

Berlin's most luxurious brunch at the Ritz-Carlton, Potsdamer Platz

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With its tempting array of French delicacies, lavish seafood buffet and unlimited champagne, the legendary brunch at the Ritz-Carlton ranks as Berlin's ultimate Sunday blow-out.

And although this orgy of luxurious eating obviously doesn't come cheap, as you fill up on lobster washed down with endless bubbly, it'll start to feel like one of Berlin's very best bargains.

Brasserie Desbrosses, Ritz-Carlton: Potsdamer Platz 3, 10785 Berlin.

Sunday brunch from 12.30-3.30pm. €98.00 per person; slightly higher prices for holiday events such as Easter and Christmas.

Sky-high in the Sony Centre

View over Sony Centre from a hidden student canteen

Why gaze up at the famous Sony Centre dome when you can secretly peer down on one of Berlin's most visited attractions?

The ninth floor Helene Schwarz Café - located just below the centre's canopied roof - is part of the Deutsche Film- und Fernsehakademie (German Film and TV Academy).

Essentially a rather upmarket student canteen, it's also open to in-the-know members of the public. Enjoy reasonably-priced lunchtime specials and spectacular birds-eye views.

: Potsdamer Platz 2, 10785, Berlin. 
Take the elevators used to access the Film Museum to the 9th floor, then turn right or left.

Note that the café keeps academic hours, and is only open Mon to Friday 8am-4.30pm. Lunches served from 12pm-2pm.



The appliance of science

The Otto Bock Science Centre near Potsdamer Platz, Berlin: wonderful architec ture and a free interactive exhibition.

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The Otto Bock Science Centre isn't just one of Berlin's most stunning modern buildings - it also features an interactive exhibition designed to explain human bodily movement and how recent innovations improve mobility for the physically impaired.

Otto Bock Science Centre, Berlin
Otto Bock Science Centre, Berlin

Find out about mind-controlled artificial limbs, or what it feels like to navigate Berlin in a wheelchair. Fascinating and completely free of charge.

Otto Bock Science Centre: Ebertstraße 15a, 10117 Berlin. Opening hours for exhibition: Thurs-Mon, 10am-6pm. Free entry, and guided tours in English can also be arranged.

Mythical bird-spotting

Phoenix sculpture on the Berlin Philharmonie, Potsdamer Platz

Potsdamer Platz is brimming with public art, but one of our favourite pieces remains largely unnoticed - even by Berliners themselves.

The elusive Phoenix on the crest of the Philharmonie's roof is not only difficult to spot, it's easily mistaken for part of the famous building itself.

But this elegantly stylised sculpture by Hans Uhlmann perfectly symbolises the transformation of Postdamer Platz from a war-torn wasteland into a reborn, glistening city quarter.

Phoenix sculpture by Hans Uhlmann
: best views from Tiergartenstraße, Berlin 10785.

Note: Tiergartenstraße is also the site of a sombre display detailing the Nazi 'euthanasia' programme T4, which was headquartered in a villa that stood nearby.

Lakeside lunching

A waterside lunch spot in Potsdamer Platz

Image credit: www.weilands-wellfood-de

There are plenty of places to refuel in and around Potsdamer Platz, but in warmer weather this waterside location is one of the nicest.

Easy to miss on secluded Marlene Dietrich Platz, the artificial lake overlooks artworks by Olafur Eliasson and Mark di Suvero, and is also home to inquisitive ducks and a family of enormous carp.

Seating is provided by Weilands Wellfood, but even if you're not tempted by the cafe's selection of healthy meals, bring your own snacks and find a tranquil poolside perch.

'Piano Teich' pool: Marlene-Dietrich-Platz/Eichhornstrasse, 10785 Berlin.

Great art, gratis

Contemporary art in Berlin's Potsdamer Platz

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With its surprising abundance of public sculpture, Potsdamer Platz is an unexpected treasure trove of large-scale works by leading names such as Keith Haring, Henry Moore and Antony Calder (if you can't spot them easily, check out our guide to some of the area's best pieces).

Other opportunities to indulge in art for free include contemporary and modern shows at the prestigious Daimler collection galleries, and even a modest display of works in St. Matthäus-Kirche.

Daimler Contemporary Berlin: Haus Huth, Alte Potsdamer Straße 5, 10785 Berlin. Opening times: daily, 11am-6pm.

St. Matthäus-Kirche: Matthäikirchplatz 1, 10785 Berlin

No-charge classical concerts

Free classical music concerts at the Philharmonie, in Berlin

The opportunity to enjoy free, world-class concerts may seem too good to be true, but that's exactly what's on offer at Berlin's famous Philharmonie, where on Tuesdays, the foyer resounds to a short programme of beautifully selected classics.

Check out the details on the Philharmonie's website - and arrive early to ensure you're admitted.

Lunchtime concerts at the Berlin Philharmonie
, Tuesdays at 1pm, (check website for programme and exceptions): Berliner Philharmonie (foyer), Herbert-von-Karajan-Strasse 1, 10785 Berlin

Berlin's artiest bridge?

'The Ring': artwork by Norbert Radermacher on the Potsdamer Brücke

Look carefully as you cross the Potsdamer Brücke, and you'll notice a large metal ring looped through the bridge's railings.

The pleasingly chunky hunk of bronze is, of course, art: a 1985 work by Norbert Radermacher fittingly entitled 'The Ring'.

One of the artist's many 'Pieces for Cities', his unassuming, slightly absurd interventions are easy to overlook, but once seen, difficult to forget.

Potsdamer Brücke: Potsdamer Strasse/Reichspietschufer 10785 Berlin

An unfinished monument

Karl Liebknecht monument, Berlin: seen here in the ruins of Potsdamer Platz before the Wall fell.
The unfinished Karl Liebknecht monument, Berlin

In 1916, Karl Liebknecht, co-founder of Germany's first ever communist party, stood on a corner of Potsdamer Platz to denounce the First World War. Three years later he was assassinated, ensuring his status as a socialist martyr.

On what would have been his 80th birthday in 1951, the East Germans unveiled a partial monument to their hero: a plinth inexplicably lacking any kind of statue, surreally located in the ruined remnants of the old square.

You'll find it today outside an entrance to Potsdamer Platz U-Bahn, a little-noticed testament to the area's chequered history.

Secret movies

'Sneak Preview': secret movie screenings at Berlin's cinemas

You never know what film you'll get to see during 'Sneak Preview' screenings at the swanky CineStar complex.

But one thing's for certain - all the movies are yet to be released, and tickets for the event are far cheaper than usual.

What's more, even if your German's not up to scratch, there's a very high chance the film will be in English (ask at the desk - that's one secret they'll gladly give away).

Sneak Previews at the Sony Center CineStar
, Potsdamer Strasse 4, 10785 Berlin. Thursdays at 8pm; tickets from €5-6.50.

Old meets Modern

Neue Nationalgalerie (New National Gallery) by Mies van der Rohe

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Opened in 1968, Mies van der Rohe's beautifully angular Neue Nationalgalerie (New National Gallery, above) remains the architectural star of Potsdamer Platz.

A late 19th century Gründerzeit classic near Potsdamer Platz

Yet just yards away there's a very different highlight many miss seeing - an elaborate late 19th century Gründerzeit classic that's worth a visit for its intricate wrought-iron entrance doors alone. 

Two different centuries, two extraordinary buildings.

WZB building (former Reichsversicherungsamt) Reichpietschufer 50, 10785 Berlin

See also:
Discover the remnants of a lost Potsdamer Platz gem
Berlin's most unusual places to stay
10 unique Berlin sights

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