Berlin: Checkpoint Charlie
Checkpoint Charlie ("Checkpoint C") was the best-known Berlin Wall crossing point between East Berlin and West Berlin during the Cold War.
I had been driven past several times, although never had the chance to stop. Randomly my friend Amanda and I found ourselves there in-between searching for the Jewish museum via wrong directions, and trek to a closed Löwenbräu.
I have to call shenanigans on this one. Checkpoint Charlie has morphed from a historical place of interest into a gimmick oozing with serious 'tourist trap' vibes. The building displayed is not authentic, it had changed shape many times during its years in operation and was eventually removed in June of 1990. A 1960's replica was installed August of 2000. Between one or two actors dress up as soldiers and stand "guard"; but you better grab 3€ out you want a photo with one or both of them. Seeing this left me wondering if anyone hires them to stand there all day, or if they are self-employed street performers who wake up every day, dress up and head down each morning dedicated to rumble with other fake soldiers over turf. Just as I imagine the performers working at Alexanderplatz and Pariser Platz do.
There is a McDonald's in the background which adds perfectly to the commercialised scene, as well as a little tourist kiosk set up on-site selling souvenirs. One of which stupidly sucked me right in! You can pay 5€ to have your passport stamped; I didn't have mine with me at the time. However, I'll be jumping straight on that gimmick train the next time I'm in town... Toot, toot!!
There is value in the Mauermuseum (Haus am Checkpoint Charlie), there you will find a substantial amount information regarding the history of the Berlin Wall and the stories of those affected by it, worth a visit if you have the time. Admission is 12.50€, plus an extra 3.50€ for an audio guide and a further 2€ for permission to take photographs. I suggest the audio guide or else you're going to have to do a lot of reading.
All in all Checkpoint Charlie as it stands today is worth a visit due to the site's historical value, and still a great spot to stop and take photos, I just wouldn't plan my day around it.
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