One of the biggest recommendations I must urge you to do when you visit Berlin is to check out the iconic East Side Gallery of the Berlin Wall.
This international memorial for freedom was established in 1990 after the fall of the Berlin Wall that shook history to its core. The Cold War was finally over. The 1.3 km long section of the Berlin Wall, near the city centre on Mühlenstraße in Friedrichshain-Kreuzburg, has been preserved and decorated by budding street graffiti artists with big and evocative thought-provoking ideas.
The border for this section was actually located at the River Spree, which is one end of this Berlin Wall stretch. The Gallery stretches towards the city centre on the so-called ‘hinterland mauer’ that closed the border to East Berlin.
Celebrating a time of change and expressing the joy and hope for a better and more free future for all people of the world, The East Side Gallery was created with 105 murals painted on the East Side of the Berlin Wall in 1990. The two German artist organisations, the VBK and the BBK wanted to celebrate unity and together they achieved their ambitions.
However, since 1990 many paintings have been damaged due to vandalism, erosion and graffiti and many if the prominent artists have refused to re-paint saying it infringed on their copyright. I think it was a shame as these paintings should have been preserved or restored to document this moment in time. But any attempts to restore the paintings may not be needed as demolition work has started to build luxury apartments on the bank of the River Spree. Protests have delayed the demolition but it is unclear whether the builders will stop their efforts even if they didn’t inform the authorities in the first place.
That’s the history lesson over and done with! So what can you do as a tourist or traveller? Support the artists! The East Side Gallery is a major tourist attraction committing their dedication to ensure that the Gallery remains standing. Document and take photos and spread the word. Observe the murals and discuss with other visitors of what they mean to you. Each mural has a powerful message and that’s no mean feat as there are 105 messages to contend with. What do each mean to you?
That is what I did and I dedicate this section of the website to the East Side Gallery to commemorate the hope of the world started in 1990.
Also, to raise awareness of the East Side Gallery, what better than a dashing handsome man to model beside them?
If you want to visit the East Side Gallery in summer, remember to slap on some sun cream. A burnt tan is definitely not the look! Only if someone told me…