The Magnificence of the Style of Berlin, Germany

Berlin imposes its Prussian style, which no doubt is awesome. My eyes admire the greatness, the extreme order that I see everywhere but, at the same time, I find my inner gaze wandering back to Athens, where the same neoclassical style, albeit on a smaller scale and therefore more elegant, has been bestowed upon public buildings, such as museums, libraries and academies.

I usually avoid comparing one city to another. Rather, I try to juxtapose the effect of a city on me with the feel of another in a natural way. This gives me a sensation so much deeper and gratifying, a mixture of the elements of both places. For example, is there any resemblance between Venice and Istanbul? At first glance nothing, but in a deeper way there is something that unites them and it is this special “something” I have expressed in my book MY VENICE.

When it comes to Berlin and Athens, however, I felt that even this kind of comparison was not in order. Looking at the Alte Nationalgalerie immediately from the outside, I remember telling myself: "Ah, but this is our National Library!" Ours is smaller, white and the marble shines under the Athenian sun, the Prussian is more robust and not white. The paradox is that the neo-classical style of the Prussians, considered a symbol of power and beauty, was only imported to Athens, the very city from whose ancient past this style was inspired by the German architects in the nineteenth century. To Berliners, the style symbolizes magnificence; to the Athenian, this is an expression of a courteous recognition since the authentic classical style is located on the hill of the Acropolis.

The author in front of the Altes Museum in Berlin

The author in front of the Altes Museum in Berlin

Another sensation experienced during my recent walks in Berlin was "reconciliation", an emotion transmitted by the union of the city, historically divided for many years. I remember East Berlin before the fall of the wall. The Friedrich district looked like a gray cloud and aroused a feeling of confusion. No magnificence! In the wake of the reunification of the city, the restoration of the buildings is impressive. The district shines! Now one fathoms the splendour of it all! Moreover, I was able to walk by myself, making the most of every moment of my visit and admiring the beautiful architecture of the buildings along the Unter-den-Linden boulevard, the Museum Island and the Konzerthaus Square, an ideal spot to pause and enjoy some truly stunning views all around.

The Academy of Athens, Greece

The Academy of Athens, Greece

Barbara Athanassiadis