I love street art. So when I was in Berlin, I couldn’t pass up a chance to explore the stirring art of East Side Gallery that has come to represent Germany’s turbulent history between East and West. This large open-air gallery is an international symbol of freedom. It is the longest remaining part of the Berlin Wall at 1.3 km long and located along the banks of the river Spree in Friedrichshain borough. After the Wall was brought down in 1989, artists came from around the world to transform the gray barriers into 105 paintings, each a testimony to victory of the human spirit.
We walked the entire length of the wall, stopping every few steps to admire the moving and thought-provoking art. The wall features many famous works of art such as the kissing politicians by Dmitri Vrubel. The painting of the ‘fraternal embrace’ is a reproduction of an iconic photograph. There is an incredible mixture of colors, artistic vision, and painting styles. Each is unique – some come with a poignant message while others are wonderfully weird and wacky. My favorites are the colorful doodles where the artist plays with colors and shapes. A lot of the murals have been damaged over time however, but have been recently restored and preserved.
It’s surreal and hard to imagine this continuous wall had once divided a city, cutting off friends and neighbors. At least 136 people were killed at the Berlin Wall between 1961 and 1989 while trying to escape. In the end, what remains of this massive wall are just a few small sections, kept for posterity. Now it stands as a symbol of beauty and perseverance.
- Take the U-Bahn U1 or Tram M10 or S-Bahn exit at Warschauer Strasse and walk 5 minutes down to Mühlenstrasse
- Take the U-Bahn U1 to Schlesisches Tor, enjoy the view as you walk over the Oberbaumbrücke
- Take the S-Bahn exit at Ostbahnhof and walk 5 minutes down to Mühlenstrasse