The division of BERLIN into zones of occupation in 1945, although seemingly arbitrary, followed exisiting local government boundaries, and the dual profile which emerged was by no means solely a product of the Cold War. In his famous interwar collection of short stories, Goodbye to Berlin , Christopher Isherwood wrote:
Berlin is a city with two centres - the cluster of expensive hotels, bars, cinemas, shops around the Memorial Church, a sparkling nucleus of light, like a sham diamond, in the shabby twilight of the town; and the self-conscious civic centre of buildings around the Unter den Linden, carefully arranged .
The latter, the political and cultural core of the Imperial German capital, duly became the heart of East Berlin and of the GDR, while the former quickly adapted itself to the makeshift role of city centre. Because of the decades of division, the reunited city found itself with two of almost everything, but the rationalization process has already reduced the duplication quite markedly, and will eliminate it almost entirely over the course of the next decade.
Although never a conventionally beautiful city, Berlin has much fine architecture, as well as an extraordinary spread of museums which collectively rank among the very richest on the planet. It also has a wide range of bars and restaurants , a vibrant nightlife and strong traditions in the performing arts . Because it occupies a vast geographical area, one interrupted by a plethora of parks, forests and lakes, Berlin is not a place that is appreciated easily or quickly.
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