* Berlin has more bridges than Venice/Italy - between 1400 and 1700, depending on who you ask (Venice only has 409). There are over 180 km of navigable waterways.
* Berlin is the only city in the world with 3 active opera houses: the Staatsoper, the Deutsche Oper, and the Komische Oper. Opera lovers are treated to events with many of the world’s best singers, conductors, and musicians taking to the stage. If you’re under the age of 30, try the evening box office where you can pick up any unsold tickets for around 10€!
* Parks, lakes, and forests comprise around 1/3 of Berlin’s total area, so many “nature” activities such as kayaking, cycling, and hiking can be done within the urban area.
* Berlin’s Zoologischer Garten’s zoo and aquarium gets about 3 million visitors a year. It’s considered to be the most visited zoo in Europe and one of the most popular worldwide. Regular animal feedings are among its attractions. There are 19,000 animals of 1,500 different species. The zoo collaborates with universities, research institutes, and zoos around the world. It maintains and promotes breeding programs, helps safeguard endangered species, and participates in species reintroduction programs.
* Berlin is also home to the largest department store in continental Europe. The Kaufhaus des Westens (KaDeWe) has over 60,000 sqm of display space on 8 floors. If you like gourmet foods, visit the 6th and 7th floor - they’re entirely devoted to food, adding up to the size of 2 football fields. The 6th floor “Delicatessen” is famous for its wide variety of foods and beverages. There are 110 cooks and 40 bakers and confectioners supplying 30 gourmet counters. The 7th floor includes a winter garden with a 1000-seat restaurant surrounded by an all-windowed wall offering a view over the Wittenbergplatz.
* The Berlin Wall (1961-1989) was 155 km long; it was guarded by 302 manned watchtowers. In the communist/socialist East, it was named ‘Antifaschistischer Schutzwall’ (anti-fascist protection wall), implying that it was erected to protect the East Germans against capitalist West Germany. In reality, its purpose was to stop the flood of East Germans trying to escape to the West by locking them in as prescribed by the Russian/USSR communist occupiers. Prior to 1961, 3.5 million East Germans had left, totaling about 20% of the population.
* Today, about 30% of Berlin’s population of 3 million have some kind of migrant background. About 13% are foreign nationals. As the capital, Berlin has a long history of migration, going back to 1685 when the city welcomed many protestant refugees from France, known as Huguenots. The Neukölln district has one of the largest Turkish communities in Germany.