Monday, August 6, 2012

Museum Island - Five Museums, One Place

The Museum Island, in the central Mitte district of Berlin, is a very pleasant area of the city and is home to, as you may have guessed, some of the major international museums in Germany. It is not actually a real island. It is located where the Spree branches off in two directions with one smaller branch of the Spree running down the west side and the main river down the east. (In fact, its kind of complicated to explain in words but easier if you see it on a map - "googlemap it" to see for yourself what I mean!)  

The 'island' itself was declared an UNESCO world heritage site in 1999 and the five museums located in this area contain an impressive collection of art and artifacts from many different cultures and ages. Amongst the collection are pieces from Egyptian, Persian, European, Middle Eastern and, obviously, Prussian origin, a collection of 19th century art as well as some reconstructed historic buildings. 

There are plenty of interesting things to see inside the museums and galleries including a bust of 
the Egyptian Queen, Nefertiti, the Berliner Goldhut (or Berlin Gold Hat) and the Ishtar Gate of Babylon. There are a number of options for entrance to the museums including island day tickets, tourist passes, group tickets and guided tours. 

When we visited we decided to buy the day ticket which gives you access to all 5 museums for the whole day and includes a free audio guide in the museums. The island day pass is a good option if you have the whole day free and only have a short time in the city. You'll have to get up early to take advantage of access to all museums though as it is possible to spend at least a morning or afternoon in just one of the museums. Another option is a three-day museum pass which might suit you more if you prefer to take your time looking round museums. 

However, you don't have to go into the museums at all to enjoy the island. On a nice day it is worth just strolling around the island. The buildings themselves are interesting to look at and there are many sculptures around the gardens and green areas to relax in and have a picnic. 

Of course, you won't miss the sight of Der Berliner Dom or the Berlin Cathedral which is also on the island. In fact, It's probably going to be one of your first impressions of the site as it is dominates the southern end of the island. 

The Museum Island is a great day out in Berlin and there are plenty of terraces and restaurants nearby to complete a touristic day in Berlin. 

You can find out more information about the museums on the island on the State Museum Website as well as on which has lots of useful information for tourists in English.     

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