The Museum Island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a highlight of Berlin’s museum landscape. The most famous museums are the Pergamon Museum with the Pergamon Altar and the New Museum with the Bust of Nefertiti.
In the middle of Berlin, on Lustgarten, where swampy terrain used to be, the visitor will find a beautiful green area that is often used by Berliners and tourists for a little break and sunbathing. The panorama is impressive: the Berlin Cathedral is here and the huge reconstruction of the Berlin City Palace. Here, so to speak, is the “entrance” to the Museum Island.
At the Kupfergraben, opposite the museums, a small piece of Old Berlin has been preserved. In house 4a lived the great philosopher Hegel. From there the visitor reaches the boulevard Unter den Linden, which has numerous restaurants and other cultural sites, such as the Brandenburg Gate, the State Library and the Opera. If you walk in the other direction, you can quickly reach the Spree shore with a beautiful beach bar, many other restaurants and finally the area for going out around Hackescher Markt.
The Schinkel-designed Old Museum was finished in 1830. The design of the Spree island began with a royal order to build these “temples for the arts”. The Museum Island occupies the entire triangle between the Spree, Kupfergraben and Lustgarten. The development was continued with the building of the New Museum, the Old National Gallery, the Bodemuseum and has been completed a hundred years later in 1930 with the Pergamon Museum. The entire island, with its magnificent buildings housing some 6000 years of cultural history, has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1999.
Behind the Old Museum, the visitor crosses Bodestrasse and arrives at the New Museum, which was built by Stüler (1843-47). With the colonnade courtyard in front of it, it is a noble building that was spectacularly restored from 2003-09. It houses the Egyptian Museum with the papyrus collection, the Museum of Prehistory and the Antiquities Collection. A visit to the “most beautiful female Berliner”, the world-famous Bust of Nefertiti, is part of every tour when the New Museum is visited.
Old National Gallery
Next to it, with a side front to the Spree, is the Old National Gallery, built by Stüler in 1866-76 like a Corinthian temple. There you can admire paintings of the 19th and 20th centuries, among others by Adolph Menzel, Max Liebermann, Lovis Corinth and Karl Blechen.
The Pergamonmuseum was built 1909-30 and impresses the visitor already at the entrance with the precious Pergamon altar. The museum, formerly known as the “Berlin Wonder of the World”, houses other interesting art treasures also. For example the Ischtar Gate and the processional street of the ancient city of Babylon. Those who walk along this street will follow in the footsteps of Nebuchadnezzar. Particularly beautiful are the glazed bricks of the wall frieze with animal depictions in blue and turquoise tones. No less important are the cuneiform tablets as contemporary witnesses of human writing from the end of the 6th millennium before our era. The Islamic Museum displays not only book art, carpets and ivory carvings, but also highlights the ornate façade of the desert castle of Mschatta (740) and the Aleppo Room with murals from Syria (1600).
The Bode Museum is built directly on the northern tip of the Museum Island and accessible from the Kupfergraben and Monbijous park. It was built in 1897-1904 and was first called Kaiser Friedrich Museum and since 1956 Bodemuseum after Wilhelm von Bode, its scientific founder. Only since 2006, you can admire the Sculpture Collection and the Museum of Byzantine Art with precious icons and the Coin Cabinet.