1.3 kilometres of amazement: take a walk along the East Side Gallery and rediscover art and the history of the Berlin Wall.
A Trabant, cleverly painted to look like it’s breaking through the wall. Honecker and Brezhnev in a brotherly socialist kiss. The East Side Gallery takes a section of the Berlin Wall and makes it the longest open-air gallery in the world.
A whole 1.3 kilometres of history and art
At 1316 metres long, the open-air art gallery on the banks of the Spree in Friedrichshain is the longest continuous section of the Berlin Wall still in existence. Immediately after the wall came down, 118 artists from 21 countries began painting the East Side Gallery, and it officially opened as an open air gallery on 28 September 1990. Just over a year later, it was given protected memorial status.
In more than a hundred paintings on what was the east side of the wall, the artists commented on the political changes in 1989/90. Some of the works at the East Side Gallery are particularly popular, such as Dmitri Vrubel’s Fraternal Kiss and Birgit Kinders’s Trabant breaking through the wall. They are not just a popular subject for postcards – you’re sure to want to photograph them yourself.
Out in the open air, the East Side Gallery is completely exposed to the weather, which means that there are regular efforts to restore it. In 1996, Kani Alavi founded East Side Gallery e. V., an artists’ initiative to preserve and restore the works. By 2000, a 300-metre stretch of the wall had already been restored and 33 pictures repainted, and in 2009 the whole East Side Gallery was restored. 87 artists took part and 100 paintings were restored.
Attractions around the East Side Gallery
Warschauer Straße and Ostbahnhof railway stations are the perfect starting points for a walk along the East Side Gallery. And there’s also plenty to discover either side of it. Opposite the East Side Gallery, for instance, is the Mercedes Benz Arena, a venue for sporting and musical events. On the Oberbaumbrücke, two giant hands play scissors-paper-stone. They represent the two districts of Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg that the bridge connects. Or use the banks of the Spree as a starting point for a leisurely boat trip through Germany’s capital city.
Information for schools
There’s no more striking way for children to encounter the history of Germany and Berlin than with a visit to the East Side Gallery. The East Side Gallery artists’ initiative offers guided tours for schools. If you want, you can arrange a meeting with an artist who will tell you fascinating details of the history and works of art.