Remains of The Wall, Berlin
Update 9 November 2009
In my tip I have written about fading colours. This is no more the case. The Eastside Gallery has been repainted by the artists for today's celebration of the 20 year anniversary of the fall of the Wall. So again it is in mint condition. Just wonderful news. The upgrade came at a huge cost of 4.2 million Euro.
After a long day this can become a long walk. The stretch of the Wall along the northern bank of the river Spree (in former East Berlin) and Mühlenstraße is 1.3 kilometres long.
But you will not regret the walk from Oberbaumbrücke to Ostbahnhof, as this open air gallery is spectacular. Spectacular with one reservation: Many of those open air paintings on the concrete slabs of the Wall, the so-called hinterland Wall, created by internationally renowned artists, are fading or even peeling off. And some have been defaced by some primates’ primitive graffiti. So some of the paintings are not recognisable anymore.
Others have been redone or restored lately – and those are spectacular. For example the one with the border controls, including the kiss of the spiritual brothers, this horrible intimate kiss of Erich Honecker and Leonid Breshnev. I hope other artists come back as well and freshen up their work, so this spectacular Gallery keeps on attracting people.
Some of the paintings did not make much sense to me, they were just nice and colourful. But most of them incorporated the artists’ ideas about separation and reunification, some very obviously, other messages more sophisticated. Some are very critical, others hilariously funny.
As this part of the Wall was along the route international protocol visitors took to East Berlin’s airport Schönefeld, it was constructed of the better looking L-shaped slabs that were used for protecting GDR from the Western conspirators. The artists started their painting jobs in 1990.
What annoyed me a bit were the open air bars behind the slabs of the East Side Gallery. They block off the views over the Spree and to Oberbaumbrücke. You cannot buy and have a drink every some metres, just to be allowed to look over the river. So those bar owners have created a new kind of wall, blocking off people who want to enjoy both sides of Berlin. Well – at least you are free to look if you pay… ;-)
The Mauerpark in Prenzlauer Berg is a great example of Berlin reclaiming the past and turning a once- traumatic site into a place for the pleasures of today, while still never forgetting what once happened here. A stretch of what was No Man’s Land, the so-called Death Strip, has been reclaimed and turned into a park. I found it both uplifting and a little poignant to see children now playing on the site of so much past grief.
A section of Wall runs near to its western side and forms an official practice ground for budding street artists. On a Sunday this park is a magnet for locals and tourists alike, with one of the city’s liveliest flea-markets, buskers, ball games and picnics. If you want to see Berlin at play this is as good a place as any!
The nearest station is Eberswalder Straße (U2)
This photo effect at the East Side Gallery is also fascinating.
You look behind the scenes – into non-existing holes, behind fences, around corners. You create the third dimension on your one-dimensional photo by making the person in the second dimension have a special look at the paintings.
Just a tip because I like the photo – not for rating. Thanks!
This is really great fun. You can become part of East Side Gallery if you stand at the right spot on photos.
You can shake hands with the former well-hated uniformed GDR checkpoint monsters, tickle Erich Honecker under the chin, so he stop the kissing with Breshnev, and so on.
I especially liked the humourous painting on the Wall. Such satire makes the events – bad as they were – even worse, and when you can laugh about it you get aware that this part of German history was not just horrible and inhumane but also ridiculous.
Mühlenstraße, between Oberbaumbrücke and Ostbahnhof
U-Bahn U 1, station Warschauer Platz
S-Bahn station Ostbahnhof
Probably nowhere was the division created by the wall between east & west felt more than in Bernauer Strasse. This street was split, with neighbours, friends and often families divided by the wall.
Some of the houses in the picture were used as a means of escape. Tunnel diggers in the west - some working for money, others for ideological reasons - built tunnels under the street in order to help people escape from the east. Many of these escapes were successful, though some of the escapees and their helpers were arrested and/or shot when their plans were discovered.
Some time when you walk through the streets of Berlin you still found some parts of the wall... Here this part is located very close to the restaurant "Freischwimmer" at the Flutgraben (Kreuzberg / Friedrischshain)
From 1990 you can see this open air museum (largest in the world) with a 1,316 meter long section of the Berlin Wall where the most famous spraying artists have set their signs.
It stretches from Ostbahnhof station to the Oberbaumbrücke.
- "Brotherly Kiss" by Dimitri Vrubel
- "Fatherland" by Gunther Schaefer
- "Berlin ? New York" by Gerhard Lahr.
[S-Bahn] (suburban train) "Warschauer Strasse" S 3, 5, 6, 7, 9, 75
[U-Bahn] (underground) "Warschauer Str." U 1, 12, 15
[Bus] 140, 142, 340, 147
If you want to pick your piece from the wall - you will get hardly any chance for that since the minor parts you can see are either in a museum or a museum for itself. Thats why I dont encurage you to do that, but there is a small piece left, covered by trees, not much guarded and probobly not a museum:
S1 - "Humbolthain" Station. Liesenstrasse - under the bridge where the S-Bahn goes... you might have to climbe for that.
In the new Potsdammer Platz you would not expect to find this relic down a quiet back street. The watch tower is located down ERNA BERGER STRASSE, close to the Sony Centre.
I suggest you to go a little bit out of downtown to see some remaining part of the wall. Take a little walk and read the inscriptions on it...