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Charlottenburg, Berlin

Germany's insider take:

When the Wall went up, Charlottenburg became the commercial heart of West Berlin, as it remains today. The Lehrter Bahnhof is the point of entry for many first-time visitors to Berlin. Behind it is the Helmut Newton Stiftung, a museum exhibiting the body of work donated to the city by native son and photographer Helmut Newton (2 Jebensstrasse; 49-30-3186-4856; Much of the area—especially along the main shopping drag, the Kurfürstendamm —was heavily damaged during WWII and rather unimaginatively rebuilt in the 1950s, and is now unabashedly commercial. The KaDeWe department store (the largest department store in continental Europe) remains a monument to consumer capitalism. Further west toward Savignyplatz, where there's a sophisticated enclave of cafés and bars, the situation improves, giving a glimpse of prewar Berlin. Just southeast of the Zoo on Breitscheidplatz, the burnt-out remains of the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche, which was bombed during the war and left unreconstructed as a monument, is a reminder of the ill fate of a totalitarian state.

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