The city’s official memorial to the Berlin Wall is along Bernauer Strasse, where the wall once divided the eastern districts of Prenzlauer Berg and Mitte from the West Berlin district of Wedding. The half-mile stretch functions as a kind of open-air museum, peppered with large-scale photos showing how the wall once looked at relevant intersections; a reconstruction of the so-called Death Strip that ran between the wall’s two main barriers; and maps displaying escape tunnel routes. A touching shrine honors the 139 lives cut short by the wall’s existence (some while attempting to escape), and a documentation center has a platform with views over the whole memorial and an exhibition about the wall’s development and downfall. An associated bookshop is farther along the street.
Mauerweg | Berlin Wall Trail
The Berlin Wall Trail opened in 2004 after a long campaign by the Green Party to turn the former patrol roads used by East Germany’s border guards into a recreational and historical trail for hikers and cyclists. Dotted with information boards and memorial sites along its 100-mile length, the trail cost more than $10 million to create but is one of Europe’s most distinctive trails. Marked by double rows of cobblestones and gray-and-white signs, it crosses the city center and beyond, heading into scenic countryside and passing alongside lakes and through parks. Check the website for suggestions on how to walk it in stages using the S-Bahn system.
Berlin Wall, 1976
Some remains from the Berlin Wall which are scattered throughout the city.
The Crumbled Berlin Wall
I am a huge fan of Germany, but Berlin does not exactly fit the standard of a normal German city. Perhaps this is why I’m drawn to this city! With the angst of a teenager, and the grit of real life struggles, Berlin is one of the most interesting and creative cities in the world. One of the most intriguing parts of this city? The Berlin Wall. Though Checkpoint Charlie is the highlight tourist attraction for the Berlin Wall, walking along the path where the wall used to stand and discovering its remaining remnants is what truly reveals the impact of what once was. I remember my German friend’s mother telling me “I never thought the wall would come down. It was a completely cut off place. I hated the process of visiting my family. We were always treated so poorly by the guards. Its truly amazing that the wall has come down.” Standing in front of the crumbling walls at nightfall gives you a strange look into the past. Its hard to believe the wall ever stood here at all. Its definitely a thought provoking travel highlight, but discover it in your own way when you visit. Feel the wall for yourself.
Fall of the Wall
I think no trip to Berlin is complete without a visit to the Berlin Wall. I could not believe how much I did not know. But out of everything I saw, this image of the East Berliners running to a newly opened west will be forever remembered. I know this image is not a destination, but rather a reminder. Though Berlin is famous for fashion, food and street art, take a moment to remember and learn about the past not to make this mistake in the future.