Today, we were supposed to go to Potsdam for the day, but because of the cold, some of us opted to go to the Museum Island instead. I was one of those people.

The first museum we went to was the Pergamon Museum, named for the Greek altar on display there. Personally, I had expected the alter to be smaller, like the kind that you would find in a church, so I was surprised at how big it was. The Pergamon Alter is a full-sized Ancient Greek sacrificial alter that once stood atop a hill that looked out over the sea. You can even climb the steps to see where the sacrifices would have been made. In the next room, they have a Roman market gate, the largest original structure to be displayed in a museum. The gate is over two stories high and made of stone. The next room holds a gate from Ancient Babylon. This one is very colorful, made with glazed bricks. Bulls and dragons stand against a deep blue background, warning off enemies. In that same room, they also have a small stretch of the walkway that would have led up to the Babylonian gate, also very colorful. We learned that this gate connected to our theme, since the Jews were persecuted and forced into exile under the Babylonian king, Nebakenezer. On the second floor, they have a museum of Islamic art, which contains an entire room from an ancient Islamic house that would have been used for greeting and entertaining guests, along with a small stretch of the wall of a palace that was never completed. I thought that this museum was amazing and would definitely go back the next time I came to Berlin.

After we were done touring the beautiful Pergamon museum we headed over to a nice little restaurant for lunch that served Asian cuisine. It was a very relaxed day where we could all go at our own pace through the museums and got to sit down at lunch without having to be somewhere by a certain time. After lunch we went to the Alte Nationalgalerie which was located in the same area as the Pergamon. I don’t know too much about art so I wasn’t sure what to expect but right as you walked up the marble staircase you’re in awe. The sculptures are extremely breathtaking and I’ve never seen such big paintings before. The first sculpture that caught my eye was one of the god Pan comforting Psyche. She is a young girl who is heartbroken by the loss of her lover and Pan is god who is half man half god that is known for causing chaos; this sculpture is a rare depiction of pan as a paternal figure who is trying to comfort Psyche. The next piece of art that I thought was fascinating was a depiction of death dancing on a road and people following behind him. What is interesting about this is that there are kings and religious leaders behind death showing no matter how important you are in your life you cannot cheat death. I did not get to see the whole museum because we were on a bit of a time crunch, but from what I saw I really enjoyed Arnold Bocklin’s work. He used a lot of religious and mythical inspirations in his art which made for interesting and creative pieces. If I ever come back to Berlin I would like to explore this museum in its entirety.

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