Architecture, Community

Finding Heine and Treasures in Berlin


“We don’t catch hold of an idea, rather the idea catches hold of us and enslaves us and whips us in to the arena so that we, forced to be gladiators fight for it.”

– Heinrich Heine 1797 – 1858


So says the inscription on the statue of German Poet, Journalist and literary critic, Heinrich Heine, in Berlin, Germany. His words of wisdom have often intrigued me and it was for that very reason that I tracked down his statue, on a recent trip to Berlin.



Why bother to search for a statue, you might say? After all, the Heine statue is a little off the usual tourist path and one has to actively search for it, [and you already know that I was doing just that]. It is because I’ve been fascinated by the liberal, and at times prophetic words, of this free thinking writer and how his words written in the 19th century, became catastrophically true, in the twentieth century. But more about that a little later.


Heine’s statue sits in a small square, fringed with manicured hedges and shady trees, and is a suitable spot to rest and reflect, as Heine did, upon the world, (although I suspect, today’s visitors might update social media, rather than navel-gaze). Whilst mapping out my walking route around Berlin attractions, finding his statue was a short stop before my walking destination – the Pergamon, a Berlin absolute ‘must – see’.

Towards the entrance of the Pergamon

The Pergamon is situated amongst a complex of museums, housed in several palatial buildings on Museum Island. The classic architecture of the museum buildings harkens back to Ancient times and is an excellent visual attraction in itself.


The Neue Museum

Also in the Museum complex, the monumental Neues Museum, circa 1800’s, contains Ancient art and archeology, whilst Neoclassical art fills the neighbouring and awe-inspiring Altes Nationalgalerie.


Altes Nationalgalerie

But, I am here to see the Pergamon itself, and its jewels in the archaeological crown – one of which is the excavation finds of frieze panels of the Pergamon Altar, reclaimed in archaeological digs, from 1878 to 1886. Disappointingly, for me and future visitors, I find that the Pergamon Altar exhibit is closed for renovation, until 2019. Well, maybe next time.


What you won’t see till 2019. Wikipedia Photo

Nevertheless, I am aware that one ‘altar’ doth the Pergamon, not make. There are other ‘jewels’ to see. Some of the other monolithic exhibits, such as the Market Gate of Miletus, the Ishtar Gate and the Processional Way from Babylon, are overwhelming and to say that is a complete understatement. Just look at them!!!


If you don’t ever get to visit the historic sites of the Middle East yourself, visiting the Pergamon will make you feel like you have!


The exhibits are unlike anything I have seen and are but a small window into the world of ancient civilizations. I am completely gobsmacked by the level of intricate detail and the skills necessary to produce such fine work.


The Museum complex now houses three of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin’s collections: the Antikensammlung, Vorderasiatisches Museum, and the Museum für Islamische Kunst.



To Plan a visit, go to the Museum website here, and please note there’s an option to purchase a combo ticket, for entry to all three museums, at a discounted price. A good tip to remember is to arrive at the Pergamon around opening time so as to avoid the lengthy queues commonly found, later in the day. I arrived just on opening time, and already the queue to enter took around 20 minutes.


If you decide the queues to the Pergamon are too long on your arrival, the surrounding gardens and Berlin’s Domkirke cathedral are in themselves, a delight to see. The square in front of the Cathedral church is filled with buskers, street artists, and unfortunately, a few less desirable folk angling for the tourist dollar, legally or illegally. Be careful with your money around them.

Berlin Domkirke
The Pergamon Museum complex is located on Bodestraße 1-3, Berlin and if you don’t want to walk there, from your accommodation, as I did, you can take a Bus, Tram, UBahn or Uber. Me? I enjoyed the a brisk, but lengthy early morning walk from my room at Comfort Hotel Auberge, which is located on Bayreuther Straße, a few steps from Wittenbergplatz station, but the walk back was a little too much, after being on my feet all day, so a bus near the Brandenberg gate took me right back to Kurfürstendamm, and then it was only a short stroll home past the farmer’s markets.


2016-07-16 22.38.00 Berlin
My room at Hotel Auberge
Hotel Auberge is family run boutique hotel with classic old world features. Think ornate plaster ceilings, chandeliers in every room, carpeted stairs with turned wooden banisters, and a spacious room overlooking a leafy courtyard. Breakfast is an ample and satisfying buffet and tea is served to your table.


On a 37° Celsius summer day like this one, the balcony seat was a perfect place to enjoy the sounds of the birds, and the city waking from its slumber before embarking on my walk.
The modern KaDeWe and Kurfürstendamm shopping precinct, the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, the Europa-Center and the Zoological garden are an easy 10 minutes walk away.
Wittenbergplatz is a short stroll away

On my lengthy walk around Berlin, and the Pergamon, I was happy to find Heine, and pondered his thought-provoking words, especially his tragically prophetic line from the 1821 play, Almansor,

Where they burn books, they will, in the end, burn human beings too.”

Berlin Wall
Fragment of the Berlin Wall on Freidrichstaße

Today, as I read a book called Stasiland by Australian author, Anna Funder, and learn of what it was like to live in the GDR, prior to the fall of the infamous Berlin Wall, I remember the inscription on Heine’s statue and ponder more his words, in much the same way as Anna Funder did, in her book:

“Heine, the free thinking poet, would be turning in his grave to see the sort of enslaving and forcing and fighting that has gone on here, under his cold black nose and pigeon shit shoulders.” -Anna Funder in Stasiland.


Have we really learned any lessons?


If you enjoyed reading my Tuesday Travel adventures, and are looking for other Travel themed blogs, you may like to check out:

Mindful Traveller

Restless Jo’s Monday Walks

If you have a blog post on Travel and would like me to add it here, please leave a comment below with your link, so that others can find your post.

Amanda at Something to Ponder About

32 thoughts on “Finding Heine and Treasures in Berlin”

    1. Yes, Joseph. One wonders whether Heine foresaw early warning signs or this possibility politically in nineteenth century Prussia/ Germany, or whether it was a commentary on the world itself.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s a practical truth that the seeds of a thing are in the ground long before the thing flowers or gives off fruit. The thing itself can often be understood before it displays itself if we will just look beneath the surface.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Ooo. I like the way you phrase that metaphor! If you say the signs are often there if we drill down beneath the surface, would you say these journeys are inevitable, pre-destined almost? Or is there potential for aberrations and deviations ?

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I think there must always be opportunity to change, otherwise why hope for a better tomorrow? I believe in destiny not fate. Fate is ineveitable, Destiny has to be embraced. I think the reason most people embrace a dark destiny simply because they are not intentional in avoiding it because they never look to see what lies beneath.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Hmmm. You have more clearly enunciated my thinking, Joseph. One has influence over our destiny. Or it could be said that there can be deviations from a destined path, that is potential for change from variables, whereas fate seems a concept beyond one ‘s control, inevitable as you said. Much like the Jews in the war. There was little they could do in the face of the Nazi war machine. Perhaps this might be a good topic for my Proverbial Friday post later published today? Fate versus destiny. I think many people are simply too busy in their life’s to search for deeper meanings in life and especially in the actions of others or political leaders. Insightful journalists/writers of the past, would often promote these messages but I see that journalism today has been radically altered, in its baseline purpose by the quest for higher profits. So we have to dig deeper ourselves, don’t we?

              Liked by 1 person

              1. Absolutely we have choice over our actions and reactions if we so desire. Some feel they have no control especially when emotions are heightened and one reacts simply from the autonomic nervous system, but it is the thought in our head, in the millisecond before that action that dictates how we choose to respond.


  1. A thoughtful and interesting read, Amanda. I’ve never been sure that I would like Berlin, but most people I know who’ve been there were seduced by it and the Pergamon looks like compulsive viewing. How can it be that so much architecture from the Arabic world can be held in a museum? It looks fabulous! Many thanks for sharing. 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I wondered the same about these incredible Arabic treasures. I suppose some of the old colonial powers have incredible treasures from past years in their stores. As an Australian from the New World, we just have absolutely nothing to compare to that as the indigenous folk were a nomadic people, due to the pressures of the environment they lived in. I think you should try Berlin. My first visit was merely a stopover, and like others you have spoken to, I was completely seduced by it, and couldn’t wait to get back. There is definitely so much to see. I hope you get there one day. For you, it is so much closer!!!

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Berlin has so many historic and cultural sights to offer and we have a vast selection of museums. The Pergamon is definitly my favourite though. The altar is very impressive..

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Heine’s “We don’t catch hold of an idea, rather the idea catches hold of us and enslaves us and whips us in to the arena so that we, forced to be gladiators fight for it.” It is very true of the current political situation in the UK!!

    Liked by 2 people

          1. Many nasty ones. People becoming emboldened to be openly nasty to immigrants. It has really divided the country. Jobs being lost (many agencies are moving from the UK). Lots of uncertainly which is affecting business investment and sales. Instead of the government putting in place a “soft” Brexit as the leave vote won by a very small margin the extremists seem to have taken over affairs. They got a lot of positive press in the tabloid newspapers. The owners of these newspapers don’t pay tax in the UK and want to avoid the EU new rules on tax that are coming into place at the start of 2019.


  3. Beautiful images, wonderful location, Thanks.
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