The guides at Insight Cities are professors, doctoral students, historians, journalists, art critics, and published authors. Sharing our cities with people from all over the world is an extension of the curiosity and commitment that led us to academic research, teaching, and journalism. As brainy guides, we look for the crucial detail, the vital, quirky fact that illuminates local cultures for you while also revealing global contexts. We care passionately about good storytelling and good hosting and we take pride in having helped thousands of travelers of all backgrounds to get the most from their time in our great cities.
Martin was born in West Germany and managed to move to Berlin by sheer coincidence at the time of the fall of the Wall in 1989. Being young, restless, and curious, he was fascinated to be suddenly able to explore areas of East Berlin like Prenzlauer Berg, Mitte, and Friedrichshain. In the 90s, Martin lived in London for 3 years and then in Paris for 7, working at Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent, before, at the not so tender age of 41, he made a mid-life swerve, enrolling in an MA program in Film Studies at Bath University. After earning his Masters with distinction, the University of Warwick offered him a generous Vice Chancellor’s bursary to study for his PhD in history. His dissertation focused on rescue operations during the Holocaust, a project that took him to archives around the globe (The Center for Jewish History In New York; the American Film Institute; the University of Southern California; the German Literature Archive, and so forth), and eventually, back to Berlin with an internship at Berlin’s Holocaust Memorial. As a complement to his endeavors as a historian and researcher, Martin relishes his work as a licensed Berlin guide, helping travelers to explore every detail of Berlin’s tumultuous history from the 18th to the 20th centuries. A history filled with figures: famous and infamous; good and bad, politicians, musicians, artists, natives, and immigrants who shaped the city’s fortunes: its iconic sites and the many discoveries that lie in wait for those who adventure off of its beaten track.
Lee left his Eastern Washington home in the fall of 1986 on a Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange Scholarship. After his year in a quiet West German suburb of Osnabrück, he enrolled in university but quickly left again to study Art History in Florence, Italy. During the fateful year of 1989, Lee was in Berlin when the Wall fell and saw the collapse of Communism first-hand; demonstrating on Wenceslas Square during Czechoslovakia’s Velvet Revolution. Lee has a Master’s Degree in Central European History and also studied Czech history and Literature at Charles University in Prague. At some point, he also managed to spend significant time living on the island of Maui and in Munich. He is a well-respected tour guide, working with Rick Steve’s Europe Through the Back Door. He has worked extensively on Rick Steve’s Germany and is currently in charge of roughly half of the Fodor’s Germany guidebooks. Lee is the Programme Coordinator and Board Member of the Berlin Historical Association. Lee led the English-language services of the German Railroad, is an expert in almost every aspect of European travel, and has helped thousands of travelers get the most out of their European experiences.
Matti was born in Berlin the year before the Wall fell and thus, had the fortune and privilege to grow up in a city that was growing up itself. Both of his parents grew up in East Germany: his dad became a teacher, until refusal to join the Communist Party ended his career, whilst his mom worked as a tour guide for tourists from the Soviet Union. In a way, Matti has followed in his mom’s footsteps, although their tours would be incredibly different! For instance, Matti’s mom failed her first test tour, when she didn’t refer to the Wall by its official East German term, “Anti-fascist democratic protection barrier”. Matti blends personal family stories and what it was like growing up in such an evolving city, with his years of research into his city’s past: both its dark chapters and rich cultural life. He has been giving tours in English and German since 2008, and hundreds of positive TripAdvisor reviews prove that he loves what he does. Matti holds a Bachelor’s degree in English and History from the University of Potsdam and is currently completing his Master’s degree in European Studies. He has lived in New York and in Brussels, where he worked at the Goethe-Institut and the European Parliament.
Dan grew up in Houston, Texas where he earned an architecture degree at Rice University. After getting his Master’s degree from Columbia University, he worked as an architect in New York City for 15 years. His love affair with Berlin began when he visited as a student in the summer of 1987. After several more visits to the city, he settled in Berlin in 2006 where he works as a teacher, writer, and filmmaker. He has contributed to books on the history of architecture and film. His monthly “Save Berlin” column in Exberliner magazine explores the city’s architectural history and future.
Heather is originally from Pennsylvania in the United States but has called Berlin home since 2005. She graduated from Penn State University with a Bachelor’s degree in History and Jewish Studies and from Brown University with a Master’s degree in Modern German History. She has been leading an array of themed guided tours of Berlin since 2006. Beyond offering an introduction to Berlin’s general history using the city’s most iconic sites to dramatize Berlin’s Prussian origins to its present geopolitical complexities, Heather specializes in opening up the rich story of Jewish Berlin as well as the city’s dark and complex Nazi past. She is fascinated by the idea of memory itself in a city steeped in memories, which includes all its monuments. She feels incredibly lucky to help visitors explore a city that she loves with all its worldly and traumatic extremes. Heather’s goal is for you to leave in love with Berlin too: full of a sense of the city’s formidable and pioneering cultural sophistication, eternal dynamism and capacity to change.
Amos moved to Berlin in 2004 and studied for his B.A. and M.A. in Politics and History at Humboldt University – the same university his grandfather went to before he was forced to leave Germany in 1933 after the Nazis took power. That same grandfather donated family documents to the Jewish Museum in Berlin and today Amos leads tours as a certified guide of the Jewish Museum. His great-grandfather got married in Berlin’s Neue Synagoge in 1899 and today he leads tours in this museum as well. Amos is also a certified guide at the “Otto Weidt’s workshop for the blind” Museum. As a city tour-guide, he offers tours in the following topics: “Berlin’s must-see sights”, “Jewish and Third-Reich Berlin”, “Alternative Berlin” (street-art, gay community, immigrants and refugees, modern architecture and city-planning, etc.), “Potsdam Tour”, “Day-Tour to Dresden” (“the Baroque pearl”) and tours in Hamburg/Lübeck. His tours are characterized by both a local perspective on historic and current developments – since he has German ancestors and because he has been living in Germany since 2004, as well as an outsider view – since he was born and raised abroad.
Laureline is an art historian and writer. She has a Teacher’s degree in Art (BA) and studied Art History (MA) at the Free University in Amsterdam. She has worked as an independent art professional, doing research and writing texts for galleries and art fairs like Art Amsterdam. She is a published writer for several on- and offline art magazines, like Metropolis M and 8weekly in the Netherlands and Freischutz Magazine in Berlin. At the Amsterdam Academy for the Arts, she taught Contemporary Art, Art and Culture, and Art Criticism courses. After visiting Berlin for the first time in 2000, she got hooked and after many more visits, finally decided to make the move in March 2014. At the moment, she works as a guide in the Hamburger Bahnhof Museum for Contemporary Art, the Jewish Museum, and the Berlin Biennale. She also gives tours through Berlin’s lively gallery scene. The Berlin art scene makes her heart beat faster. Looking for galleries here feels like an Indiana Jones adventure, where an art treasure can be just around the corner. You can read all about the treasure hunt in her blog Gallery Quest or come find out for yourself on a tour.
Isabelle received her M.A. from Heidelberg University in January. She is currently a fellow in a research project on Anti-Semitism in Europe during World War I at the Center for the Study of Anti-Semitism at Technical University Berlin and holds a PhD fellowship from Heinrich Böll Foundation. Her PhD project is on anti-Semitic discourses in the Berlin-based media during the Weimar Republic. Isabelle was a student of History and Political Science at Heidelberg University, Johns Hopkins University, and Charles University Prague, and participated in a program for international students at Tel Aviv University. Focusing on Jewish History, International Relations, and Resistance during her studies, she graduated with a Master’s thesis on the resistance of writers to the Communist systems of Czechoslovakia and the German Democratic Republic. Besides her studies, she was a tutor for Foreign Affairs in the Political Science Department of Heidelberg University and has worked as a freelance journalist with a focus on Jewish culture and Eastern Europe related topics. Isabelle was an editor at the Prague-based weekly Prager Zeitung and the German news media n-tv.de. She continues writing as a contributing author for the Goethe Institute and several other German and international media. She is passionate about the Jewish history of Berlin and human rights and is a member of “Reporters without Borders”.
Forrest was born in New Mexico but has lived, studied, and worked in Europe for thirteen years, currently as a doctoral student at Freie Universität Berlin. He holds an MA in German History from the University of Cardiff. Since visiting Berlin for the first time on a research trip, he married a native and settled down in the German capital. Over the years, Forrest has become passionate about Berlin’s abundant culture and delved into the museums, concert halls, art galleries, theaters, bars, bookstores, cabarets, cinemas, and cafes, savoring the international color and the diversity the city boasts. For him, Berlin is also a city of history: rich, complex, dark, looming, echoing with creativity and inspiration, and issuing a clear and dire warning for the ages. Besides sharing research with those on his tours from books, archives, and memorials, Forrest brings in the stories of Berliners themselves, many of them his in-laws and friends. Slowly, he is coming to feel that he is a part of this city’s story too, as Berlin continues to transform profoundly around him even during his short decade there. Forrest offers tours in both English and German and guides primarily in the Berlin area (including Potsdam and the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp Memorial), especially focusing on the Nazi regime and the Second World War (1933-1945), Berlin’s Jewish history, the Cold War and the years of division (1949-1990), art, architecture, or aspects of Berlin today.
Shlomit was born in Tel-Aviv and raised in Hong Kong. She later returned to Tel-Aviv where she trained as an actress at the Beit Ziv Academy, then received her Master’s in screenwriting from the University of Arts, London. Relocating to Berlin in 2010, Shlomit is the recipient of several grants from film funds in Germany and Israel to work on screenplays, a number of which are optioned and in different stages of development. Shlomit also writes regularly about Berlin as a journalist for the Israeli press and she became so passionate and engaged by her adopted city’s history that she is a professional guide, helping visitors enjoy and explore her city’s rich culture, its darker chapters, and dynamic and unfolding present.
Juliette, of Italian and British background, was born and raised in London and is now based in Berlin. She is an independent curator, musician and has been the founder and head of music at arts curating company, TundoCurating, since 2015. Juliette has worked in museums and research institutions including the HangarBicocca and Pirelli archives in Milan and the Venice Biennale. In London, Juliette contributed to the curation of exhibitions in museums and galleries including the Courtauld Gallery, Tate Britain, and Riflemaker. Juliette’s band, Juliette and the Sin – for whom Juliette writes the music, sings and plays guitar – have toured Europe and have played alongside artists such as the Fat White Family. Juliette has recently formed a new musical enterprise involving The Mokkers front-woman, Verita, which is currently recording their debut album. Juliette holds a Master’s degree in Curating the Art Museum from the Courtauld Institute and a BA in Art History from the same institution.