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Berlin is the Quintessential European Capital of Culture


Berlin is the quintessential European Capital of Culture (ECC) because of its fascinating and compelling features including cultural/people diversity and unique architecture. In 1988, Berlin became the fourth city in Europe to win the ECC (Wilson, 2017). Berlin’s history dates back to its foundation in the 13th century where it later became Prussia’s capital (Stöver, 2013). The city rapidly grew in the 18th and 19th century to the extent of becoming a world city. The world city was rich in leadership roles as far as science, music, the humanities, museums, higher education, and government diplomacy, as well as military affairs, are concerned (Stöver, 2013). The rich history of the city provides a lot of points to focus on regarding what makes the city stand out as the perfect and complete ECC. Therefore, there is a lot to discuss, but I will dwell on only three major areas including the richness in people and cultural diversity, and unique architecture.

Diversity of People

Berlin has long been referred to as a diversity city because Germany is a country of immigration (, 2012). With a total population of about 3.5 million people, the city is home to over 1 million inhabitants who do not originally come from Germany but the 184 countries of Europe (Make it in Germany, 2017). Therefore, Berlin reflects different and diverse ethnicities, which imply that the city provides opportunities for Europeans from diverse backgrounds to have a sense of belonging in one particular area (Lahdesmaki, 2012). The Kreuzberg district in Berlin shows the diversity of people in the city. The district is known as a diverse place with many


Turkish immigrants (Visit Berlin, 2017). Additionally, Kreuzberg is interesting and fascinating in that one can experience diversity and vibrancy at every corner (Visit Berlin, 2017). According to Kymlicka (2010), ethnocultural diversity is a feature of multiculturalism implying that individuals acknowledge and share traditions and customs. Through multicultural museums, like the Jewish Museum, Kreuzberg shows how Berlin supports ethnic and cultural diversity (Visit Berlin, 2017). This has created opportunities, particularly for youth studying in the city’s universities, to have a quintessential European experience because it helps them viscerally feel European (Streitwieser, 2014). According to Visit Berlin (2017), the Jewish Museum in Kreuzberg is the most visited museum in the city thus supporting tourism.

Diverse European Culture and Art

The diversity of people in Berlin gives the city a vibrant and varied culture as well. There is cultural richness, social diversity, and cosmopolitanism in Berlin (Make it in Germany, 2017). According to Make it in Germany (2017), the immigrant society in Berlin brought about the richness in artistic, political, religious, musical, literal, sporting and educational, cultural diversity. Nye (2013) states that electronic dance music (EDM)/techno, has unquestionably been the export trademark of the city, which is a critical point of reference in musical history. According to Cohen (2012), musical memory, heritage, and local identity are essential features to note while explaining the past of a ECC. Therefore, the celebration of techno music in Berlin portrays the music as a tool for memory retrieval and the construction of self-identity and ownership based on the argument by (DeNora, 2000 p.67), that music is a temporal medium. Based on Cohen’s (2012) assertion, the techno music, collective memory, local identity, and emerging musical memory are a validation of Berlin’s status as a quintessential ECC. As highlighted above, the extent to which European cultural heritage including art and music is celebrated in Berlin puts the city at the international stage as an attractive tourist's site. Therefore, I argue that Berlin's richness in the diversity of the European cultures has boosted tourism in Germany, has enhanced its image in the eyes of its own inhabitants, and has also raised its international profile. Consequently, I am inclined to state that the above are the primary reasons why Berlin is the quintessential ECC (European Commission, 2017).

Unique Architecture

Regarding architecture, Berlin shows a diverse style of buildings and street facades. Berlin consists of beautiful streets, squares, individual buildings and parks (Stöver, 2013). The ‘Palace of Tears,’ which represents two worlds within one city shows the uniqueness of the architectural designs of the city (Stöver, 2013). The Palace of Tears was used for westbound border crossing and is the place where East Germans bid their families and visitors farewell as they went back to West Germany (Cold War Sites, 2017). Therefore, it was the central terminal for West and East Germany which is an example of culture-led generation. The various designs have been influenced by the cultural diversity in the city and also reflect the fact that Berlin is a city full of rich, diversified European culture (Hudec & Džupka, 2016). Berlin won the Europa Nostra Awards twice in 2010 (The Neues Museum) and 2013 (Taut’s Home) because of unique designs of the respective houses (in brackets) (Europa Nostra, 2013; Europa Nostra, 2010). Because cultural diversity has influenced the unique architectural designs, the rich, diverse culture in Berlin has significantly contributed to the development of the city (Gospodini, 2004). Ahlfeldt and Maennig (2009) state that the Max-Schmeling-Arena and Velodrome/Swimming-Arena in Berlin-Prenzlauer Berg are examples of interesting and fascinating architecture in the city which contribute to the revitalisation of the economically deprived neighboring regions.

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It is evident in the statement that Berlin deserves the world class recognition as a city with a top international profile. The reason being the fact that it is a diverse city rich in diversified European cultures and unique architectural designs for street facades, parks, and museums. The above implies that the three arguments presented to support my answer are successful. Additionally, the success of the arguments is also evident because the diversity of people, richness in diverse cultures of Europeans, and the unique architecture shaping the city's image are fundamental features for Berlin as a ECC. Exploring the culturally-led regenerated city of Berlin is an exciting endeavour, and certainly, my discussion does not end here.


Ahlfeldt, G., & Maennig, W. (2009). Arenas, arena architecture, and the impact on location desirability: the case ofOlympic Arenas' in Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin. Urban Studies, 46(7), 1343-1362. (2012). 775 Years of Berlin, City of Diversity. Retrieved March 3, 2017, from

Cohen, S. (2012). Musical memory, heritage, and local identity: remembering the popular music past in a European Capital of Culture.

Cold War Sites. (2017). The Palace of Tears, Berlin. Retrieved March 23, 2017, from Cold War Sites:

Denora, T. (2000). Music in Everyday Life. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press.

Europa Nostra. (2010). Germany-Berlin (Conservation): The Neues Museum. Retrieved March 16, 2017, from

Europa Nostra. (2013). Germany-Berlin (Conservation); Taut's Home. Retrieved March 16, 2017, from

European Commission. (2017). European Capitals of Culture. Retrieved March 16, 2017, from

Gospodini, A. (2004). Urban morphology and place identity in European cities: built heritage and innovative design. Journal of Urban Design, 9(2), 225-248.

Hudec, O., & Džupka, P. (2016). Culture-led regeneration through the young generation: Košice as the European Capital of Culture. European Urban and Regional Studies, 23(3), 531-538.

Kymlicka, W. (2010). The rise and fall of multiculturalism? New debates on inclusion and accommodation in diverse societies. International social science journal, 61(199), 97-112.

Lahdesmaki, T. (2012). Discourses of Europeanness in the reception of the European Capital of Culture events: The case of Pécs 2010. European Urban and Regional Studies.

Make it in Germany. (2017). German society: a diverse population. Retrieved March 16, 2017, from

Miles, S., & Paddison, R. (2005). Introduction: The Rise and Rise of Culture-led Urban Regeneration. Urban Studies, 42(5/6), 833-839.

Nye, S. (2013). Minimal understandings: The Berlin decade, the minimal continuum, and debates on the legacy of German Techno. Journal of Popular Music Studies, 25(2), 154-184.

Stöver, B. (2013). Berlin: A Short History. Berlin: C.H.Beck.

Streitwieser, B. (2014). Internationalisation of Higher Education and Global Mobility. United Kingdom: Symposium Books Ltd.

Visit Berlin. (2017). Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg. Retrieved March 23, 2017, from Berlin Tourismus & Kongress GmbH: Wilson, H. F. (2017). Capitals of Culture and Heritage.

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