Before World War II, the land Potsdamer Platz sits on was one of the busiest squares in the whole of Europe. However, when the Wall was built, it was divided right in the center and was left deserted for many years. Now that the Wall is down, this has been a prime development area. About US$4 billion have been spent on this makeover and the results are impressive. Many famous architects, including Renzo Piano, RIchard Rogers and Arata Isozaki, have left their marks here. It is now a vast modern district and remains one of the most active construction sites ever.
This is worth seeing to marvel at how quickly things can change in the new Berlin. Of course, the architecture is top-rate modern and though some areas have the feel of an upscale mall, it exudes a sense of whimsical and sophistication.
The Info Box building (see my entry in this journal) is the logical first stop. There are exhibits, architectural models, and a special mail box to send your postcards with a special Info Box postmark. Once you understand the development that has taken place (and continues to this day), walk over to the complex where Sony, Deutsche Bahn, and Daimler-Chrysler have a strong physical presence. There are restaurants, shops, cinemas, and a man-made lake. It comes complete with its own Cinestar multiplex and an interactive museum.
In reality, this is a man-made environment and a commercial area. But the atmosphere is fun and the energy level high. There are many corporations and apartment complexes here, an urban oasis for living and working. It reminded me of Times Square in New York, but on a much larger scale and with brand new high caliber buildings.
I recommend this as a must-see to fully comprehend the changes Berlin has made in the past few years. Potsdamer Platz is well-covered in many travel articles about the city and it is worth spending a short afternoon here.