East and West Germany may have reunited in 1990, but reminders of the almost three-decades-long divide still linger throughout the capital city. Remains of the Berlin Wall are the most evident, but segments that have remained standing for the past 20 years aren't all negative—in fact, Berliners have taken a piece of this symbol of division and turned it into one of art and freedom as the largest open-air gallery in the world.
The East Side Gallery is located near the center of Berlin on Mühlenstraße in the young, artistic neighborhood of Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg. The standing portion of the wall, running more than a kilometer, has been painted by artists from all over the world. What used to be plain, imposing concrete is now covered with bright colors and striking images.
There is no charge to visit the East Side Gallery, and a biergarten is conveniently located at one end. If you're interested in the modern history of Berlin and find yourself around Kreuzberg, it's worth a visit.
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The Lives of Others
I'll never forget that day in 1989 when the wall came down—and the iconic images that followed. It represented freedom, the success of democracy and the West, and it marked the end of the cold war! It was the Reagan era, Saturday Night Live was hilarious, and MTV was actually cool!
So when I got the opportunity to visit Berlin more than a decade later, I had to pay a visit to the wall. The Berlin Wall East Side Gallery is a 1.3km-long section of the wall near the center of the city. Approximately 106 paintings by artists from all over the world cover this memorial for freedom and make it the largest open-air gallery in the world. It is an amazing site and a "must see" on any visit to Berlin!
Extending along the 1.3km stretch that makes up the Berlin Wall, East Side Gallery was the highlight of my winter trip to Berlin. Despite the freezing temperatures, I was blown away by the 106 paintings from all over the world that cover this memorial.
Along the banks of the river Spree, this open-air gallery is a constant reminder of old and new Berlin.
A large portion of the Berlin Wall in former East Berlin still stands and in 1990 was turned into a cement canvas for 118 mural artists from around the world. Here is where you will find the infamous painting of that Socialist kiss.
At the west end of the East Side Gallery is an outdoor bar area, complete with basketball court and food shacks, covered in street art that will transport you to Africa. Step in to hear reggae music, drink some beer, and meet men from all over the Dark Continent.
I believe drinking beer while walking to the next park, cafe, museum, or music venue is a huge highlight when visiting Berlin. Walking the length of the East Side Gallery, the largest open-air gallery in the world, is another. The art ranges from political to artistic to solemn, which creates a range of emotions among my friends and I. Some pieces bring on deep discussions or outright laughter. There are many amazing places to see in Berlin, but the remainder of the Berlin Wall is the only place I visit every time I come to this awesome city.