Due to Monday being a holiday, Ebe was able to ride along with me on the public transportation for free. We took advantage of the situation and headed out west, to Spandau, which is the westernmost Bezirk (borough) of Berlin. Besides an interesting little "Altstadt," Spandau is also home to a very cool fortress, known as the Zitadelle (citadel).
The Zitadelle is quite an amazing site, especially considering it's in the middle of a bustling metropolis. It used to be just a good ol' castle, but the city of Spandau made it into a "modern-day" Renaissance fortress back in the 16th Century to protect itself from invading armies. It has quite the history as you can imagine, it having been occupied by Napolean, serving as the location for a Nazi Gas Defense Laboratory, and now acting as a museum as well as the oldest remaining structure in all of Berlin!
We couldn't have went on a better day, which made walking through the ramparts and the grounds a true joy. One of its museums housed old Prussian and German military outfits throughout the past 200 years. I found the collection of helmets especially entertaining. We also learned that Rudolf Hess was imprisoned in Spandau and was the last prisoner to die in captivity before the prison was leveled. Another museum also housed a huge collection of cannons and artillery. The craftsmanship on the barrels of the cannons from the late 18th Century was truly amazing. Other buildings housed art projects from local schools as well as a collection of historical items throughout Spandau's history.
(p.s. Don't forget to check out the gorgeous Zitadelle U-Bahn station)
More pics of Berlin's Zitadelle
I wish I could say we saw visited other amazing sites throughout Berlin for the remaining week, but we mostly enjoyed the weather and reading in the park. Sometime during the week our friends Jake and Sophie invited us to accompany them to see Berlin's "true" soccer team: FC Union. Now I say "true" soccer team because it was East Berlin's soccer team during the days of the Iron Curtain, and many Berliners feel FC Union shouldn't be taking a backseat to the "traitors," Hertha BSC.
We had to get to the stadium early, which lies quite a few stops east of the ring on the S-bahn. Union was playing a rival Magdeburg, so tickets were only sold on game day, hence our early arrival. We were surprised to see so many cops in riot gear on our way there, but come to find out, Union fans have a knack for letting things get out of control, especially when playing a rival team... sweet, a soccer riot with real German hooligans!
We got our tickets, had a few beers with some fans in a staging area, and then walked through a forest to get to the stadium. I'll say one thing, Union doesn't have anything on Hertha's Olympiastadion, but Union's stadium was small and cozy with that touch of the DDR we've come to love.
The game was a lot of fun, and it was neat hearing all the fans chant their slogans, which deal a lot with "never forgetting" and the "iron union!" Unfortunately for the home fans Magdeburg pulled out the win, and the visiting fans were advised to go directly from the stadium to the S-bahn with a police escort... there would be no rioting today.
Once again we had a great week, and we saw many new things and had many new adventures. Who knows, maybe we'll catch a riot when we go to Union's last home game on the 31st?