Day Tour

The Story of Berlin (3 Hours)

Context Travel

Berlin, Germany

Valid for Travel Now Through: 01 Feb 2021

The Story of Berlin (3 Hours )

Berlin, Germany

Tour Features


  • Culture, History & Arts
  • Sightseeing



Recommended Ages

12 and Above

Activity Level



Berlin, world capital and the site of myriad momentous historical events, started out as a humble market town in the early 13th century. In the company of a local docent, we’ll explore the origins of the city, chronicle its increasing political importance under the noble Hohenzollern family (which ruled here from 1417-1918), through to the traumas and repercussions of more recent times.

Over the course of the walk, we’ll take in a broad but comprehensive sense of the city in all of its many incarnations, including its present incarnation as the most vibrant, exciting city in Europe. In particular, we will look for what one architectural historian has called the "ghosts of Berlin," the way that centuries of (often tumultuous) history are layered and sedimented in the cityscape of the capital, making it possible to see in a single street or building traces of communist rule, Nazi terror, imperial ambition, and Enlightenment rationalism all at the same time.

Our walks begins at Pariser Platz in the shadow of the Brandenburg Gate, originally erected in the 1730s as a small gate in the city’s customs wall but subsequently transformed between 1788 and 1791 into the monument that still serves as one of the main symbols of Berlin. Looking at this magnificent structure, based on the design of the Propylaea (the entrance to the Acropolis in Athens) and surmounted by Johann Gottfried Schadow’s neo-classical Quadriga, we will have an opportunity to discuss the city’s imperial past as well as the many divergent uses to which the city’s monuments have been put over the centuries. Clearly, this gate meant something very different to the Electors and Kings of Brandenburg and Prussia than it did to Adolf Hitler or the Communist leaders of the German Democratic Republic (GDR). And of course it has an altogether new symbolism today, standing as it does at the heart of a reunified Berlin and a reunified Germany.

From Pariser Platz we continue through Berlin’s historic center. As we contextualize this rich visible landscape within the city’s history and culture, however, we will also pay special attention to everything that can’t be seen. Relentlessly bombed by British and Americans planes during the Second World War and largely neglected by the GDR during the years of the Berlin Wall, much of this area has only recently been reconstructed and revivified in the years following unification in 1990. The modern center of Berlin, therefore, is as much defined by the structures, history and geography that you can’t see as it is by the Baroque, neo-classical and modern monuments that you can.

At the end of our time together, we’ll be better able to "see" the invisible layers of this most remarkable city and discuss what may be in store for Berlin in the 21st century. Thereafter, you will be able to continue your exploration of the city on your own, either visiting the numerous world-class museums just around the corner, strolling to the nearby Hackesche Höfe for a good German meal or beer, or hopping on an S- or U-Bahn to visit another exciting part of the capital.

About Us

Context Travel offers cultural and historical tours and activities led by deep subject-matter experts in over 50 cities around the world. With coverage of lesser known locales as well as main city sites, our experts take clients through in-depth, thematic topics to help them get to know a city more deeply. The tours are designed to be the ideal environment for learning – they are conversation-driven private experiences that are structured, but never scripted.

Insider Tip

Contact your Virtuoso Travel Advisor for insider knowledge to help enhance your experience.

Terms & Conditions

Context walks can be cancelled up to 48 hours prior to the walk with an 85% refund. Within 48 hours all reservations are final and cannot be refunded. Walks are held rain or shine with some variations to accommodate the weather. If you are running late for your meeting with our docent, we ask that you call to alert us so that we can relay the message to the docent. No shows are treated as last-minute cancellations and are non-refundable. Cancellations within three business days need to be made by phone to the emergency number provided in your confirmation email. Cancellations within three business days made via email or by calling our U.S. 800 number may not be honored. Other terms and conditions may apply.

The trademarks VIRTUOSO, the Globe Swirl Logo and SPECIALISTS IN THE ART OF TRAVEL are registered trademarks of Virtuoso, Ltd. Virtuoso, Ltd. has a U.S. copyright registration for the Globe Swirl Logo, ©2000. All rights reserved. Virtuoso CST#2069091-50. California CST# 2069091; TA# 808 - Registered Iowa Travel Agency; Washington UBI # 601 554 183. Registration as a seller of travel does not constitute approval by the State of California.

Reviews and Recommendations for Context Travel


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Italy trip

By: Joe C

Reviewed on: 27 Jun 2018

Without question they did a superb job.
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"The Great European Tour"

By: MJ

Reviewed on: 14 Aug 2018

The trip was our first experience with Context and it was amazing!
Travel Advisor:  Donna Peacock
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By: Shari

Reviewed on: 17 Nov 2018

The 6 person maximum of Context tours really made for an intimate learning experience. The docents they get to lead the groups were top notch!
Travel Advisor:  Kelly Millington

Context Travel: One very good tour, one medium good tour

By: Rob

Reviewed on: 27 Feb 2019

We had two tours, one entitled "Intro to HK: Colony to Financial Powerhouse" and the other "Kowloon Street Food Tour". The first had an architectural as well as historical framework, which was worthwhile, and our guide was very earnest and enthusiastic. We liked her very much. Our second tour, ostensibly a "Kowloon Street Food" got a little off track onto some political topics (reference is made in the description to discussing "local issues") but we made clear to our guide that we much preferred to spend our limited time checking out the street food and markets, and leaving politics and history aside. (Every guide prior to this had given us a similar capsule history of HK.) In fairness to our review of the guide, my wife and I were extremely tired by the time of our evening tour, and had to conclude the tour early, and we do not fault our guide in any way for our "running out of steam". Our guide was nice, though he made a couple of comments that might have been better left unsaid.
Travel Advisor:  Rachel Dicker

Context Tours

By: DHunt

Reviewed on: 05 Mar 2019

We were highly impressed with context tours. Each guide was very knowledgeable and the private group setting allowed us to really spend time and enjoy each site without feeling like we were part of a herd. Further, the guide is interactive, not just dictating into a radio with information.
Travel Advisor:  Nathan Cripps


By: Liz

Reviewed on: 22 Mar 2019

Great tours, leaders had in depth know,edge and were patient with questions. Length of tours were appropriate and breaks were schedule to accommodate our needs.
Travel Advisor:  Marion Harbison