Berlin may be steeped in history, but it’s also as hip, contemporary, and alternative as capital cities come. With an extraordinary number of monuments, museums, and buildings which commemorate the city’s turbulent past, engaging with Berlin's history is an illuminating and often moving experience. But to focus too much on the past does the city a disservice. The city has embraced its history, emerged triumphantly, and is now recognized as perhaps the coolest city in Europe. Relax along the River Spree, shop till you drop on the KuDamm, and visit the shops, bars, and nightclubs of the ever-evolving Kreuzberg neighborhood. Take the time to walk the length of the East Side Gallery in neighboring Friedrichshain, too. This 1.3km stretch of what was formerly the Berlin Wall is now a huge, open-air gallery of street art. This wall is indicative of the city having turned its troubled history into something very cool indeed.