Is Berlin Pretty?

Among the major European capitals, Berlin can reasonably lay claim to a few superlatives: hippest, youngest, cheapest. But prettiest certainly isn’t among them. The city is, for the most part, a mix of old architecture that survived the various wars (or was rebuilt in recent decades), Soviet-era monoliths, and sparkling new buildings in the former no man’s land near the Wall.

Still, there’s the odd aesthetic experience in Berlin that takes your breath away. Here are a few pleasing glimpses of the Museumsinsel and its environs — some of which show the appealing juxtaposition of old, reconstructed buildings (like the Berliner Dom) and Soviet creations (like the Fernsehturm, or TV tower):

And here are a few views of Potsdam, just outside the Berlin city limits and the former stomping grounds of Frederick the Great (and others):

And, for good measure, here are five of the ten American Burns Fellows who met up in Berlin this weekend — from left to right, Krista Kapralos (FAZ in Frankfurt), someone most of you will recognize, Chelsea Wald (Deutsche Welle in Bonn), Dalia Fahmy (Die Welt in Berlin), and Shant Shahrigian (Süddeutsche Zeitung in Munich — the day before, a van ran over his foot; remarkably, he emerged mostly unscathed):

But outside of the bookish journalists who have invaded it — it’s not an ugly city, is it?

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