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Travel and Tours

 October 13, 2015
New Archaeological Tour Explores Medieval Ancestry of Berlin

 Scholar-led organization launches new tour uncovering fascinating origin story of Germany's most famous metropolis. Context, organizer of critically acclaimed walking tours, expands its Berlin program with Medieval Mitte and the Birth of Berlin, an archeological tour that sets the stage for modern-day Berlin by unearthing the city's historic origins.

Most visitors to Berlin are familiar with its dramatic milestones of the last century and its current characterization as a buzzing European metropolis. The 1900s dawned with the city in its adolescence, in the throes of industrializing and modernizing itself, but as the century progressed, Germany's capital was beset by one struggle after another. Today, contemporary legends of political, economic, and social strife persist in dominating the perception of the city; however, below the layers of this recent history lay many other stories that unveil how Berlin came to be. Reaching to the 9th century, these stories take us to Berlin's beginnings as a Slavic town along the banks of the river Spree and then even further back to follow in the tracks of the prehistoric groups who traveled the country's hinterlands. Archeological excavations have revealed some of the secrets of antiquity, which now guide us in becoming acquainted with Berlin as it once was: a modest settlement on the wetlands of central Europe.

Led by an expert archaeologist with experience on local digs, the tour begins by tackling topics of prehistoric culture and technology in the gallery collection of the Märkisches Museum. It then steps back in time into the13th-century medieval quarter of the Nikolaiviertel, and visits key sites of ancient Berlin, including the Marienkirche and a segment of the old city wall, to marvel at their miraculous survival. This immersive experience takes visitors off the beaten path to introduce them to a rarely discussed side of the city.

"Through my own research and working here as an archaeologist I have discovered that these earlier histories of the city are equally as fascinating and, at times, as tumultuous as anything that came later," says Aaron Birchenough, the Berlin-based archaeologist and co-designer of the walk. "I have tried to achieve a unique tour which focuses on the earlier prehistory and history of the city - in effect, telling the seldom-told early story of Berlin."

Medieval Mitte and the Birth of Berlin lasts 3 hours, and is available daily. Group walks cost €80 per person, private tours cost €345 per party. As with all Context walking seminars, groups are led by a credentialed expert and limited to six (6) people maximum.

Founded by National Geographic writer Paul Bennett and designer Lani Bevacqua, Context Travel is a network of English-speaking scholars and professionals, including art historians, writers, architects and gastronomes, who organize and lead walking seminars in thirtyfive (35) world cities, including: Florence, Rome, Venice, Naples, Paris, London, Edinburgh, Madrid, Barcelona, Berlin, New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Washington, D.C., Istanbul, Athens, Beijing, Shanghai, Vienna, Prague, Budapest, Amsterdam, Tokyo, Kyoto, Buenos Aires, Cartagena, Rio de Janeiro, Milan, Montreal, and Vancouver. A certified B Corporation, Context Travel was named one of the fastest growing American companies in 2011 by Inc Magazine. Travel + Leisure has called Context one of the top European tour companies for its innovative approach to travel and the depth of its programs.