Pergamon and Neues Museums Berlin

Lions Ishtar Gate Pergamon Museum

Yesterday was rainy and gray, so I spent several hours exploring two museums – the Pergamon and Neues. Both are on Berlin’s Museum Island and spectacular!

Bust of Queen Nefertiti – c visitBerlin Foto Frank Nuernberger

Pergamon Museum

The famous Pergamon is known as a “visitor magnet”. It’s named after the Kingdom of Pergamon an ancient city in northwest Turkey. During the Hellenistic Period (281–133 BC) Pergamon was a major cultural center.

Mshatta Facade Pergamon Museum Berlin – Wikimedia Commons

Expansion and renovation are in process but the museum is still open to the public. I’ve walked by the Pergamon many times and viewed it from different exterior vantage points. Finding the entrance amidst the construction was a bit like following a maze!

Museum of Islamic Art Pergamon Museum

The Pergamon is adding a fourth wing to house the “monumental architectural exhibits of Egypt, the Near East, Greece, Rome, and the Islamic culture”. Renovations are set for completion by 2026, and some halls are closed during the process.

Market Gate of Miletus Pergamon Museum

Pergamon’s impressive antiquities collection includes:

Market Gate of Milet Pergamon Museum

The Museum of the Ancient Near East is one of the world’s most important museums of oriental antiquities. With 2,000 square meters (21,500 sq. ft) of exhibition space, “it portrays 6,000 years of history, culture, and art in the Middle East”.

Berlin Green Head Neues Museum

The collection includes “major architectural monuments, reliefs, and smaller objects excavated by German scientists”. These treasures come from the “Sumerian, Babylonian, Assyrian, and Northern Syriac-Eastern Anatolian regions – today’s Iraq, Syria, and Turkey”.

Athena Altar Pergamon

The museum’s reconstruction of several ancient Babylon buildings is fascinating:

  • Ishtar Gate
  • Professional Way
  • Throne Room Facade of King Nebuchadnezzar II (604-562 BC)

Queen Nefertiti and  King Akenaten – Neues Museum

The walls of Ishtar Gate are made of exquisite original tiles composed of “numerous fragments”. The stunning images of lions, bulls, and snake-dragons are symbols of Babylon’s main deities. Some highlights are described below.

Islamic Art Pergamon Museum

Ishtar Gate

Built around 575 BC during the reign of King Nebuchadnezzar II, Ishtar Gate was the eighth gate to the City of Babylon. The magnificent gate was dedicated to the Babylonian Goddess of War – Ishtar. As part of the city walls of ancient Babylon, Ishtar Gate is one of the original Seven Wonders of the World.

Market Gate of Miletus

The Market Gate of Miletus is a Roman gate from a 2nd century AD Asian town called Miletus. The marble gate has three passages and combines Greek, Roman, and Hellenistic architectural elements. Not surprisingly, some of the statues are similar to ruins I’ve seen in Turkey, Greece, and Italy.

Mschatta Façade

Mschatta Façade is a 33-meter-long (110 feet) piece of wall from a desert castle in Jordan. Transported from Jordan, each segment of the massive wall is unique. Some of the elaborate reliefs reminded me of temples at Angkor Wat Cambodia.

Pergamon Museum – Museum Island Berlin

Collection of Turkish Carpets and Tiles

Turkish carpets and tiles have been a fascination. I have several Turkish carpets in my home and smile every time I look at them. Pergamon’s carpet exhibit is amazing. Some tiles displayed are reminiscent of those in Istanbul’s glorious Blue Mosque.

Aleppo Room Pergamon Museum

Neues – Humboldt Forum Highlights

The Humboldt Forum Exhibition at the Neues (New) Museum highlights objects from America and Micronesia and includes artifacts from the:

Neues Museum

“The collections provide insight into ancient culture evolution stretching from the Middle East to the Atlantic and from North Africa to Scandinavia.” The full program of Humboldt Forum Highlights is on their website.

Neues Museum

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“The Humboldt Forum invites people to find out how things in our world are related, discovering the strange in the familiar and the familiar in the strange. Visitors explore, experience, and understand the world as a whole through exhibitions and events.”

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Eros Greek God of Love Carrying Garlands – Neues Museum

Barrigón Cuman Stone Figures Humboldt Forum – Neues Museum

Bull Ishtar Wall Pergamon Museum

Egyptian exhibits include images of royalty, burial chambers, and Queen Nefertiti. Pre and early history and archaeology reflect culture and history from the Stone Age to the Middle Ages. Exhibits include:

Stone figures from Central America reminded me of pre-Columbian archaeological sites I visited at San Agustín Archaeological Park in San Agustin Colombia in 2015. The Barrigón figures from Guatemala were fascinating as was the Aztec eagle snake Cuauhcoatl, a national symbol of Mexico.

Photography was tough with the lighting and glare. Sorry, but not all photos have captions. After three hours, my brain was fried. These spectacular museums require several visits and a few guided tours to comprehend!

Hot Oregon Summer – Berlin Next

Gendarmenmarkt Berlin – depositphotos.com

Gardening and Wildfires

It’s been a restful, contemplative summer in Oregon working in my garden with deer, wild turkeys, annoying yellow jackets, and a stray Gothic-looking black cat. Sadly, dry and windy conditions combined with record-breaking heat resulted in raging wildfires all around us.

Garden Visitor

Cute Stray Cat

The massive Carr Fire near the California / Oregon border created terrifying “fire tornadoes“. They occur when a fire acquires “vertical vorticity and forms a whirl”. Fire tornadoes can “grow to gargantuan size with winds of over 90 mph”.

Fire Tornado – zmescience.com

Carr Fire Chopper – The Mercury News Bay Area

The Carr Fire ignited in late July. A month later, after “torching more than 200,000 acres,” it’s about 90 percent contained!  Smoke from fires in Oregon, California, Washington, and nearby Colorado and Canada creates a surreal aura, bringing an eerie atmospheric haze, poor air quality, and vivid sunrises and sunsets.

Wildfire Sunset San Francisco Bay – Fstoppers.com

Wildfire Smoke at Sunrise – Jonathan Hayward Canadian Press

Brave Wildfire Fighter – Charlie Nash Photography

Next Long Trip

I’ve started getting into the specifics of my next travel adventure. No matter what, this time I’m traveling with one piece of luggage!

Berlin Boroughs and Districts

Like in 2017, I’ll begin in Europe and eventually make my way back to South Africa. I decided to start in Berlin – a new city for me. I’ve studied Berlin’s East and West boroughs and have a few leads for rental apartments in well-located areas near attractions and transportation – Mitte, Charlottenburg-WilmersdorfFriedrichshain-Kreuzberg, and Neukölln. Rents are reasonable, and the apartments look comfortable.

Museum Island River Spree – Stock Photo

Return to South Africa

I’m apprehensive about violence in many parts of Africa – Congo, Mali, Zimbabwe, Sudan, Kenya, Uganda, et al. Although I’ve never experienced violence during my travels in Africa, but six cities in South Africa – Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth, Pietermaritzburg, Rustenburg, and Johannesburg – made the top ten list of the most dangerous cities on the African continent. Xenophobic related violence in South Africa is disturbing. Here in the US, we clearly have our own problems and brand of political tension, civil unrest, violence, and a vast chasm between “left versus right” ideologies…

Berlin Cathedral – Wikimedia.org 

Thankfully Day Zero in Cape Town’s drought is now pushed out beyond 2019, but the government’s move toward land expropriation without compensation is a concern. More than two decades after the end of apartheid, land ownership remains a “highly emotive” subject for South Africans – that may be an understatement. According to the ruling ANC government, white people own 72 percent of private land, black people 4 percent, and other ethnic groups 24 percent.

Berlin Cathedral at Museum Island – 123RF.com

Land expropriation is said to be “the most pressing social issue in the country”. However, some think high crime, corruption, and the “triple-time-bomb of poverty, unemployment, and inequality” are the real issues keeping South Africans awake at night.

Kayelitsha Township Outside Cape Town – Dan Kitwood Getty Images

Julius Malema Leader Economic Freedem Fighters (EFF) -blouinnews

Julius Sello Malema Leader Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) – blouinnews.com

The ANC-led government and members of the militant, aggressive Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party differ in their approach to land expropriation.

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South Africa’s EFF – founded in 2013 and led by outspoken Julius Sello Malema – is a self-proclaimed “radical leftist, anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist movement that draws inspiration from the broad Marxist-Leninist tradition”.

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Mmusi Maimane – Leader Democratic Alliance

The Democratic Alliance (DA) – the ANC’s official opposition and second largest political party – accuses both the ANC and EFF of “misleading the public on land expropriation”. They claim to have the best land-reform plan. DA leader Mmusi Maimane says, “there can be no new dawn for South Africa until the ANC is out of power“.

My extended South African visa expires in 2020 – a regular entry (tourist) visa issued at the airport is good for 90 days. I haven’t decided whether to pursue the rigorous renewal process. The “retirement visa” has allowed me to make long trips (up to five years) to explore and better understand South Africa. I especially enjoy the Western Cape, hiking Table Mountain, volunteer work with young children, and vibrant Cape Town – a special and dear place to me. South Africa is a strikingly beautiful but complex and sometimes difficult country that can’t possibly be understood without spending extended time there.

Unter den Linden by Night – 123RF.com

During this period of rapid change, the National Development Plan (NDP) is the country’s detailed proposal addressing key issues for uniting South Africans.The lofty NDP goals to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality are to be implemented by 2030. What little I know of the NDP, it seems overwhelming, but I’m digressing – back to Berlin

Clouds Over Table Mountain from Signal Hill Cape Town – Erik Pronske Getty Images

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The NDP’s goal is to “unite South Africans, unleash the energies of its citizens, grow an inclusive economy, build capabilities, and enable the state and leaders to work together to solve complex problems”…

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Staatsoper Unter den Linden

Berlin State Opera Staatsoper Unter den Linden – Wikipedia

Berlin This Fall

I plan to arrive in Berlin in September. Their fall weather is much like Oregon’s with cool but mild temperatures. When winter comes and it starts getting really cold, I’ll move south – not sure where yet. I’m considering exploring new places versus returning to more familiar areas. New countries of interest include Romania and Albania, but Italy and Spain also have moderate winter climates.

Berlin Brandenburg Gate at Dusk – pond5.com

I’m looking for a three-month rental apartment in the Berlin-Mitte borough, the central section of former East Berlin. “Before the war and division of the city, Mitte was the center of Berlin. It’s regained its former pre-eminence to such an extent that many visitors never see the western side of the city.”

Bode Museum Mitte – Wikimedia.org

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Mitte is the oldest and most historic part of Berlin with many cultural attractions and “ever-expanding restaurant, club, and arts scenes”.

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Strandbar at Bode Museum Mitte

Mitte begins at Potsdamer Platz and the Brandenburg Gate on the east side of Tiergarten Park. The grand boulevard, Unter den Linden, is lined with 18th- and 19th-century palaces and monuments.

Mitte – VanDam StreetSmart Maps

Tiergarten Park – berlijn-blog.nl

Komische Opera House Berlin – operawire.com

I’m excited to attend theater performances and the Berlin opera! Berlin is teeming with performing arts theaters, cabarets, and clubs. The Staatsoper Unter den Linden, Berlin’s main opera house, and the Komische Oper, the third largest, are both in Mitte. Berlin’s Philharmonic Season begins in late September. Other major attractions in the area include Gendarmenmarkt, a neoclassical square, Berliner Dom (Berlin Cathedral), and Museumsinsel (Museum Island) with five major museums. Frivolous activities that top my list are – mingling with locals, hanging out in cafés, overnight side trips, and exploring less-traveled backstreets.

Christmas Berlin – efcollegebreak.com 

Germany’s festive Christmas Markets are legendary. These are the top five:

  1. Weihnachtszauber at the Gendarmenmarkt
  2. Berliner Weihnachtszeit at Roten Rathaus
  3. Wintertraum am Alexa
  4. Winterwelt am Potsdamer Platz
  5. Weihnachtsmarkt am Gedächtniskirche

Christmas Markets Berlin – classictic.com

I don’t speak German but am learning key phrases and pronunciation rules hoping I don’t butcher the language too much. During past travels in Germany, English was spoken everywhere. Mehr später…

Monbijou Park Embankment River Spree