Turning the corner and finding the entrance to the Pergamon museum, my hero will go and sort our tickets out whilst I take care of coats and bags. Security is especially tight here today and we are allowed nothing but a camera in our hands. Admission includes an audio guide and there are plenty of lockers and an efficient cloakroom so actually, it feels good to leave everything there.
We can go right inside through a small, unassuming door and turn right…
Oh yes, it’s exactly as I remembered it, if not better.
The magnificent Ishtar Gate from Babylon stands immediately to the right as we step inside. It was this that I’d remembered so clearly. Me! The non-historian!
But who wouldn’t have remembered such fantastic relief animals?
Such wonderful lions treading softly along a bright yellow pathway decorated with daisies?
Though parts of the 6th Century BC gate are still being restored, it didn’t matter one bit.
Because the mirror image is there to see on the other side.
We spend a while taking it in, marvelling at the scale of the whole assembly and trying to imagine it complete – this is only the smaller of two gates which would have stood there and they’d have been approached by a long walkway.
Only part of that is there, together with a model so we can get a better idea of what would have greeted us upon entering Babylon by the Processional Way.
The Pergamon Museum is rebuilding some areas and so much of it remains closed. We took the opportunity to see what’s still open, however and did a quick run through the Assyrian Room where these finely carved panels adorn the walls.
I rather liked this piece of Assyrian jewellery too. It’s dated well considering it’s been around for more than 2000 years, don’t you think?
My hero spotted this similarly aged wall fragment, all neatly constructed with shaped bricks which piece together incredibly accurately.
And I’m keen to see the beautiful Aleppo Room. According to our audio guide, it still stands in Aleppo, welcoming visitors as it always has done. Except that it probably doesn’t. Who knows?
Of course, there’s heaps more to share from the Pergamon Museum but for now, we’ll move on. It’s lunchtime and we’re feeling peckish!
Back out into the building site of Unter den Linden, the crowds are just making their way to the museums – we timed it well!
We are heading for Gendarmenmarkt, where we stayed on our very first visit to Berlin, some twenty five or so years ago, in that red roofed hotel. There’s a Christmas carket here which we might look around later, but for now, we’ll find something to eat.
Blue and white signage is often a good sign, suggesting that Bavarian food might be served here. Sure enough, Augustiner offers a great selection of favourites and refreshed by a couple of Weissbiers, we are happy.
It’s almost 4 pm when we leave…
Though it’s not quite dark yet, the Weinachtsmarkt is bustling. Unusually, there’s an entrance fee, so we pay up and in we go.
We understand it’s a security precaution, for this year the Christmas Markets are seen as being rather vulnerable to…well….all kinds of things we’d rather not ponder too long on.
So, we join the happy crowd amongst the clove scented stalls between the two cathedrals. This is a beautiful setting and the air is cold enough to feel seasonal.
As dusk falls, we hear music coming from the steps of the Konzerthaus so we make our way through the crowds to see what’s going on.
A troupe of young ballet dancers are performing on a small stage and doing a grand job in spite of low temperatures. It’s altogether quite magical to stand there beneath the cathedrals, amongst a jolly crowd watching the dancers under the twinkly lights.
A stern Madame watches from the side as her dancers put on a wonderful show.
Meanwhile, back in the market, two angels make their way through the crowds.
They are wearing stilts and tower above the heads of everyone around them. They’re glamorous and rather lovely, dressed in fur and twinkles.
But we giggle at their “feet”, fixed to the bottom of their stilts. Even angels have a sense of humour it seems.
It’s getting dark now, so we head for a small bar for a drink before leaving. Isn’t it lovely?
Thankfully, cosy inside too. It’s almost time we were heading to the Komische Oper, just over the street, for the performance of La Belle Helene which starts at 6pm today.
I note the sign and follow it. Nice one, don’t you think?
No photos from the show, of course, but suffice to say, it’s the most hilarious opera we’ve seen. Very gay – it’s attracted a large number of gentlemen in the audience! – those lederhosen worn by the extraordinarily camp dancers are not quite what they seem and are “cheeky” in the literal sense of the word!!
The theatre, though modern outside is traditional in style and very comfortable indeed.
The seats are electronically enabled for reminders and subtitles in the language of your choice, too.
For us, we are simply too swept along with the events on stage – roller skates and the most amazing costumes plus, needless to say, outstanding performances by the cast.
Afterwards, we collect our little chocolate truffle (“Eine fur alle”) on the way out and decide we’ll walk back to the hotel. Though our feet are aching, we are pleased of the night air and hum our way back.
It’s been quite a day, don’t you think?