To this day, the Berlin Wall remains one of the most powerful symbols of the Cold War. On 13th of August 1961, the Communist government of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) began to build the Berlin Wall between East and West Berlin. The official purpose of the Berlin Wall was to keep Western from entering the GDR, but it primarily served the objective to stop citizens leaving. The Berlin Wall stood until 9th of November 1989, when the head of the Communist Party announced that citizens of the GDR could cross the border.
If you want to see more hidden gems along the Berlin Wall or around Berlin, check out my BertaWalks App.
Close by and also interesting to visit: Wall Museum, Quartier Schützenstraße and Café Westberlin
East Side Gallery
The most popular piece of the Berlin Wall is located between the districts Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain, running along the Spree River. The East Side Gallery, the 1.3km-long section preserved of the Berlin Wall, now hosts murals by over 100 artists from around the world. The open-air gallery ‘opened’ on September 28, 1990. A little more than a year later, it was listed as a historical monument and, since it was painted in 1990, has become a symbol of connection rather than separation. Some of the East Side Gallery's works are particularly popular: Dimitrji Vrubel's Brother's Kiss or Birgit Kinder's Trabant Breaking Through the Wall.
Mühlenstraße, 10243 Berlin (Mitte), Station: U1, U3, S3, S5, S7, S9 Warschauer Straße
Topographie des Terrors
The Topography of Terrors is an outdoor and indoor history museum. It is located in the Niederkirchnerstraße, which also marked the border between Berlin-Mitte (East Berlin) and Kreuzberg (West Berlin) until 1989. Here you can find remains of the Berlin Wall. Behind the Berlin wall, you can visit the permanent exhibition of the museum, a site on which the most important institutions of the National Socialist persecution and terror apparatus were located between 1933 and 1945.
Niederkirchnerstraße 8, 10963 Berlin (Mitte), www.topographie.de, Station: U2, S1, S2, S25 Potsdamer Platz, daily 10:00–20:00
Close by: Gropius Bau and Restaurant Beba
Wind your way up to Mauerpark, a public linear park in Berlin's Prenzlauer Berg district, where Berlin’s most legendary flea market invites you to get lost each Sunday. On other sunny days, Mauerpark is a great spot to chill on the grassy hills or listen to the street musicians. A stone circular stage area with surrounding amphitheatre is situated on the hillside directly across from the park's basketball court. The name translates to 'Wall Park', referring to its status as a former part of the Berlin Wall and its death strip. The park is located at the border of Prenzlauer Berg and Gesundbrunnen of former West Berlin.
After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the former death strip was designated as a public space and one of several green spaces in the city. An 800 m strip of the Berlin Wall still stands in the park today as the monument, and is a popular place for graffiti artists to paint and display their work.
Bernauer Straße 63–64, 13355 Berlin (Prenzlauer Berg), www.flohmarktimmauerpark.de, Station: U8 Bernauer Straße
Gedenkstätte Berliner Mauer
Bernauer Straße, on the border between the districts of Wedding and Mitte, became a historical site when the Berlin Wall was built. The Wall Memorial is a memorial site in remembrance of the division. During the inner-German division, the entire length of the Berlin Wall ran along the southern side of Bernauer Strasse.
Today, it is the only place where the Berlin Wall can be experienced in its cross-section encompassing the Hinterland Wall, death strip, and actual Wall. Part of this former border strip is now an open-air exhibition. The Chapel of Reconciliation is also located on the site, the former Church of Reconciliation having been blown up in 1985 because it was located directly on the border strip. In the newly built chapel, visitors regularly commemorate the victims of the Wall in church services.
Over the years, East Berliners built numerous escape tunnels around Bernauer Strasse. Finally, the division of the city was overcome; the first segments were broken out of the Berlin Wall at Bernauer Straße on the night of November 10–11, 1989.
Bernauer Straße 111, 13355 Berlin (Prenzlauer Berg), Station: U8 Bernauer Straße
The cemetery on Scharnhorststraße was established in 1748 as an institutional cemetery for the nearby Invalidenhaus, it was opened for the burial of high generals after the war against Napoleon in 1813 and for civilians from the end of the 19th century. After the division of Berlin in 1961, the border through East and West Berlin ran along the western bank of the Schifffahrtskanal (canal), the water area belonging to East Berlin. More and more space was needed to secure the GDR border, so the Invalidenfriedhof was increasingly taken over. In total, over 90 percent of the graves were destroyed to make room for the Berlin Wall.
Of the rear barrier wall made of concrete slabs layered on top of each other, a longer section with individual gaps has been preserved. The Kolonnenweg can also be seen and the width of the former death strip (area around the Berlin Wall) can still be experienced. Despite the destruction, the 200 surviving gravestones still offer a glimpse of the cemetery's eventful history. Of particular interest is the monument designed by Karl Friedrich Schinkel for Gerhard von Scharnhorst, Prussian general and army reformer. A resting lion crowns the austere, neoclassical structure of the tomb.
Invalidenfriedhof, Scharnhorststraße 31, 10115 Berlin (Mitte), www.foerderverein-invalidenfriedhof.de, Station: S3, S5, S7, S9 Hauptbahnhof, 16th of March until 30th of September: daily 7:00-21:30
pics by Daniel Kessler