Unter den Linden is one of the most beautiful, historic boulevards in Germany. It is located in the center of Berlin and runs from the Brandenburg Gate in the east to the site of the previous Berlin Palace in the west. It has had a long and interesting history dating back to 16th century.
The name Unter den Linden literally means under the lime trees. Lime trees are one of the main features of this boulevard and were planted in the mid 17th century, under the orders of Friedrich Wilhelm, who was also called the Great Elector. He wanted to create a visually stunning route from his palace at one end of the boulevard to his hunting grounds at the other end.
These trees line the two roads of the boulevard and stretch 1.5 kilometers. Unfortunately, the original trees were destroyed during World War II, some by order of Hitler and others because the local people needing firewood. It was not until after the war that replanting took place.
The boulevard is home to many famous landmarks including the Berlin State Opera, Humbolt University, which was originally the Palace of Prince Heinrich, the Historical German Museum and the Cathedral of St Hedwig, to name just a few.
One of the most touching monuments is an underground room with a glass roof called 'The Empty Library'. It is a reminder of a day in 1933 when thousands of books, which offended the Nazis, were burnt on the streets.
After the war, the boulevard was left mostly in ruins. Many of the grand buildings were completely destroyed and restoration did not begin until the late fifties, with this work continuing well after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1990. The Brandenburg Gate was only completed in 2002 and other restoration work is still proceeding.
Many foreign embassies and upmarket hotels are located along the street. An interesting feature is the DDR traffic lights located along the boulevard. They are a reminder of the days of the Cold War when much of Unter den Linden was in East Berlin. Interspersed along the boulevard are several historical statues, the most impressive one of Frederick the Great riding a horse.
Under den Linden has a multitude of shops, cafes and entertainment venues along its large expanse. Many are housed in neoclassical buildings intermingled with the more austere architectural style of the DDR. It is full of life and the restoration work completed over the last decades is a credit to the German people.
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