Berlin possesses some of the finest art galleries and museums in the world and offers the highest standards of music and opera performance. It is endowed with a range of historic architecture and is the site of Europe’s greatest concentration of first-rate contemporary architecture. Once again a national capital, it is also one of the most exciting cities on the Continent, recent and rapid changes pushing through a transformation without peacetime parallel.
One of the grandest capitals in Europe for the first forty years of the last century, it then suffered appallingly from aerial bombardment and Soviet artillery. For the next forty years it was cruelly divided into two parts and became the focus of Cold War antagonism, a bizarre confrontation between an enclave of western libertarianism and hard-line Communism.
Since the Wall was breached in 1989 the city has been transformed beyond recognition. From being a largely charmless urban expanse still bearing the scars of war, it has become a vibrant, liveable city, the very model of a modern major metropolis. The two halves have been knitted together and cleaning and repair have revealed the patrimony of historic architecture to be among the finest in Central Europe.
The art collections, formerly split, dispersed and often housed in temporary premises, are now coming together in magnificently restored or newly-built galleries. Berlin possesses international art and antiquities of the highest importance, as well as incomparable collections of German art. The number and variety of museums and the quality of their holdings make Berlin among the world’s most desired destinations for art lovers.
With three major opera houses and several orchestras, Berlin is a city where truly outstanding performances can be virtually guaranteed.
Fly at c. 12.45pm from London Heathrow to Berlin Tegel (British Airways). Take an orientation tour by coach: the New Embassy quarter, Reichstag, Brandenburg Gate, Pariser Platz and Unter den Linden. Dinner and overnight.
Walk through the oldest part of the city to ‘Museums Island’, a group of major museum buildings. Visit the Pergamon Museum, home of one of the world’s finest collections of Near Eastern antiquities including the eponymous Hellenistic altar from Anatolia. Some free time. Evening performance at the Staatsoper: The Magic Flute (Mozart) with Oksana Lyniv (conductor), René Pape (Sarastro), Mauro Peter (Tamino), Elsa Dreisig (Pamina), Arttu Kataja (Papageno), Serena Sáenz (Papagena) Gloria Rehm (Queen of the Night), Florian Hoffmann (Monostatos).
Schloss Charlottenburg, the earliest major building in Berlin, is an outstanding Baroque and Rococo palace with splendid interiors. The Berggruen Collection of Picasso and classic modern art is also here. Evening at the Deutsche Oper: Lucia di Lammermoor (Donizetti) with Stefano Ranzani (conductor), Noel Bouley (Enrico), Mihaela Marcu (Lucia), Vittorio Grigolo (Edgardo), Andrei Danilov (Arturo) Byung Gil Kim (Raimondo), Anna Buslidze (Alice) Jörg Schörner (Normanno).
Europe’s greatest building project in the 1990s, Potsdamer Platz showcases an international array of architects (Piano, Isozaki, Rogers, Moneo). Scattered around the nearby ‘Kulturforum’ are museums, the State Library and the Philharmonie concert hall (Hans Scharoun 1956–63). The Gemäldegalerie houses one of Europe’s major collections of Old Masters. Free afternoon, an opportunity to visit the Museum of Musical Instruments. Evening performance at the Staatsoper: The Barber of Seville (Rossini) with Massimo Zanetti, Julien Salemkour (conductors), Juan José de León (Count Almaviva), Paolo Bordogna (Bartolo), Tara Erraught (Rosina), Grigory Shkarupa (Don Basilio), Adriane Queiroz (Berta), Gyula Orendt (Figaro), Jaka Mihelač (Fiorillo), Florian Eckhardt (Ambrogio).
Fly to London Heathrow from Berlin Tegel, arriving at c. 1.30pm.
Price – per person
Two sharing: £2,490 or £2,370 without flights. Single occupancy: £2,780 or £2,660 without flights.
Flights with British Airways (Airbus A320); travel by private coach throughout; accommodation as described below; breakfasts, 3 dinners with wine; all admissions; all tips; all taxes; the services of the tour leaders.
Tickets to 3 performances are included, costing c. £250.
The Regent Berlin: elegant 5-star hotel decorated in Regency style, close to Unter den Linden. Rooms are of a good size and excellent standard. Single rooms are doubles for sole use.
There is a reasonable amount of walking and standing around in art galleries. Average distance by coach per day: 9 miles.
Between 10 and 22 participants.
Before booking, please refer to the FCDO website to ensure you are happy with the travel advice for the destination(s) you are visiting.
'This tour was a joy from start to finish. The balance between art and opera was excellent.'
'Excellent itinerary – operas with the best seats plus marvellous cultural tours of major Berlin museums.'