Saturday, June 2, 2018

Elegant Elbe: Berlin 3a (6/2/2018)

Saturday, June 2, 2018
After breakfast we walked over to Peter & Beth's hotel, and then we all went to take the U-Bahn, in order to minimize walking, to get to Museum Island/Museum Insel. Since now I was working off a printed map instead of any precise pre-planned directions, I messed up. When we had to transfer trains, I could not find the one that went to Hackescher Markt. I asked a U-Bahn employee, who said we needed the S-Bahn. Oh, of course! I should have realized that before leading the others up and down, and up and down, stairs to check every U-Bahn track!
Statue titled The Monument (2015,
by the workshop of van Lieshout)
We arrived at the Pergamon Museum before opening time, but it allowed us to join the line before it became too long. As it turned out, we just made the first group allowed into the museum! While in line, a woman came up to me to ask about where to get tickets, in German. Out of all the people in the line, why did she pick me?! I had to tell her that I did not know, that we already had tickets, but perhaps she could get them inside. Someone else in line overheard and confirmed she would get them up ahead.
The Pergamon Museum is the must-see museum in Berlin. It was custom-built to hold the Pergamon Altar, a monumental structure (2C BCE) from the ancient Greek city of Pergamon. The site was excavated 1878-1886, the pieces were brought to Berlin and carefully reconstructed in the larger new museum of 1930. Unfortunately, with the master plan to renovate the museums, the Pergamon Altar section was closed.
The Pergamon Museum houses the rest of the Antiques Collection/Antikensammlung (that is not on the Old Museum/Altes Museum), the Islamic Art Museum/Museum für Islamische Kunst, and the Middle East Museum/Vorderasiatisches Museum.
Ishtar Gate (circa 575 BCE), one of eight gates to the
inner city of Babylon under Nebuchadnezzar II
Left side of Ishtar Gate
Ishtar Gate detail (KSS)
Not just the gate, but the much of the processional way!
A model of the original Ishtar Gate and Processional Way
Processional Way detail (originally there were 120 lions);
I do not know why there is a color difference
The gate was used for a New Year's procession that occurred after the barley harvest at the vernal equinox (first day of our spring). The lions represented the goddess Ishtar, the mistress of heaven, and each lion is unique in the color of the fur and manes.
Basalt sculpture of bird from Tell Halaf 
The amazing story behind the Tell Halaf artifacts begins in 1899 with archaeologist Max von Oppenheim unearthing a palace from about 11-10 BCE in what is today Syria. Oppenheim displayed his finds in a renovated machine plant in Berlin in 1930. During World War II, in 1943, a bomb destroyed the private museum, and water from hoses hitting the fire-heated stone monuments caused them to crack and shatter. Anything made of wood was burned to ash. Oppenheim collected all the basalt fragments in hopes that someday it could be put back together, but then died three years later. The fragments were kept in the Pergamon Museum in East Berlin, and the people who wanted to restore the sculptures were in West Berlin. Finally in 2001, a team of four people laid out all the pieces and began the painstaking work of fitting them together like very complicated 3-D jigsaw puzzles. They completed the task in 2008, resulting in 60 figures of humans, animals, and mythical creatures.
Oppenheimer's Venus before destruction and after restoration (BBC)
Assyrian winged creature Lamassu, a protective deity
that often stood at city gates in pairs; these were found
in the ancient Assyrian capital of Aššur at the palace
of King Tukulti-Ninurta I (ruled in 13C BCE) (KSS)
Assyrian relief of a winged divine being
from the Palace at Nimrud (850 BCE)
The fellow carries a bucket of holy water and
wears a rosette bracelet signifying divine power,
and is covered in cuneiform script
The next monumental exhibit was the market gate (2C CE, then destroyed by an earthquake)
of Miletus; it was reconstructed in the Pergamon Museum using new material to
complete it (60% original), which led to criticism
Miletus was an ancient city in what is now Turkey. Its Roman period was from circa 129 BCE to 3C CE.
Roman mosaic floor (circa 200 CE) from Miletus, depicting
Orpheus at the top and a hunting scene (hunters with wings?) (KSS)
Phoenix-Dragon basin of hammered brass (late 13C from Mosul,
now in Iraq) shows the influence of China with the phoenix and dragon
motifs on Islamic art and was once inlaid with gold and silver wire
The Aleppo Room (circa 1600, the Ottoman period) of painted panels
commissioned by a wealthy broker and Christian for the entrance
room to his private dwelling, with Persian and Biblical scenes
Aleppo Room detail
In 1912 the family sold the wood paneling, then regarded as passé, to the Berlin Islamic Museum. A philosophical (and perhaps political) question has arisen, "does Aleppo prove that western countries should keep the world's antiquities?" Assuming that if this artifact had remained in Aleppo, it would have long ago been destroyed.
Islamic prayer niche, inscribed with
text from the Koran (KSS)
Islamic not-a-prayer niche, found in the
home of a Samaritan family in Damascus (KSS)
Koran stand (13C, from central Turkey)
Mosque lamps (circa 1600 and start of 14C)
made of glass, enamel and gold paint
Mshatta Façade (early 8C Umayyad desert castle in Jordan) (KSS)
Unbelievable detail of the carved stone
Persian carpet (15C from Anatolia) with the
phoenix and dragon motif brought from China,
along with the yellow color denoting a sovereign
Peter & Beth headed back to their hotel, as Kent and I took the S-Bahn to Brandenburg Gate.
This time I was able to see the station that had been closed during
the communist era, which retains the original green subway tile
We stopped in at the former north guardhouse
of Brandenburg Gate, which has a
Room of Silence/Raum der Stille for reflection
Silence! It would have been an oasis from the
crowds outside at the gate, but it was stuffy and hot!
At the corner of Ebertstrasse and Scheidemannstrasse
is another memorial to the victims of the Berlin Wall,
that is, to those who died trying to escape crossing the wall
As we walked into the Tiergarten, we saw some more of those Three-card Monte dealers. All of a sudden they took off, literally running into the woods. A minute later a posse of police officers arrived.
The police officers listened to all the reports, while even the guard at the
Sinti & Roma Memorial showed pictures on his mobile phone
Memorial to the Sinti and Roma (gypsies)/Sinti und Roma Denkmal
(2008-2012, designed by Dani Karavan) commemorates the gypsy groups
(including the Sinti, Roma, Lalleri, Lowara or Manusch, and Jeniche)
who were persecuted and murdered during the Nazi regime
The glass walls of the memorial show the timeline of the persecution of the traveling peoples, and you enter through a rusted steel portal.
The black-lined pool has a triangular stone in the center on which
lays a flower; it is said that when the flower withers,
the stone sinks and comes up again with a fresh flower
The triangle shape of the flower stone refers to the badges that concentration camp prisoners had to wear.
Many of the stones around the pool are marked with the names of
concentration camps; around the rim of the pool is inscribed a poem titled
Auschwitz by Roma poet Santino Spinelli
An organ grinder and his macaw
Sculpture of a lion group/Löwengruppe (1872, by Friedrich
Wilhelm Wolff) that on closer inspection shows
the lioness has been killed by an arrow (KSS)
Goethe Memorial/Denkmal (1880, by Fritz Schaper)
for the German writer and statesman Johann
Wolfgang von Goethe, surrounded by allegories
of Dramatic Poetry, Lyric Poetry, and Science
Memorial to Homosexuals Persecuted under National Socialism/
Denkmal für die im Nationalsozialismus verfolgten Homosexuellen
(2008, by Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset)
A small window in the memorial shows a video loop
of either two men, or two women (running now),
kissing, and the video is changed every couple years
Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe/Denkmal für die ermordeten
Juden Europas, or Holocaust Memorial (2003-2004, by
architect Peter Eisenman and engineer Buro Happold),
which contains 2,711 concrete stelae that vary in height (KSS)
To exit from wandering among the stelae,
you must go uphill
Some of the stelae had metal bands due to cracks (KSS)
There was a glass pavilion entrance to the underground visitor center, with a long line of people waiting to enter. We continued on.
We had a quick sandwich and salad lunch
Next: Berlin 3b.

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