Why visit the Berlin Wall East Side Gallery

Although many sections of the former wall lie scattered around Berlin, the East Side Gallery is not only the longest stretch still standing, but also the most interesting. Covered with politically charged murals, this 1.3km strip artistically documents the changing times. As the largest open air gallery in the world, it is no surprise the wall features some of the most iconic artwork of divided Berlin. The East Side Gallery also gives a reference point for the height of the Berlin Wall, to imagine the plight of those that tried to scale it before 1989. You can also check out the back side of the wall, where modern street artists have taken over.

Very interesting to see a large part of the Berlin Wall still standing, and the art is fascinating. If you are into the Wall history or art it's a "must see".

Miles B, 03 Dec 2012, USA
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Free tour

Alternative Berlin Free Walking Tour

Focusing on Berlin’s underground culture, this 3 hour free walking tour explores the lesser known sights and neighbourhoods. Ideal for those seeking to mix with the local lifestyle.


Berlin Wall East Side Gallery history

The Fall of the Wall

In 1990, shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall, 118 artists from 21 countries gathered to transform the grey wall, untouchable up to that point, into an artistic document. The result became known as the Berlin Wall East Side Gallery. A 1.3km strip of the eastern side of the wall, covered with 105 murals. This informal open-air gallery commenting on the events and emotions of the period, with many bearing slogans of peace and liberation.

The Damage of Time

Despite being placed under a...

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The Fall of the Wall

In 1990, shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall, 118 artists from 21 countries gathered to transform the grey wall, untouchable up to that point, into an artistic document. The result became known as the Berlin Wall East Side Gallery. A 1.3km strip of the eastern side of the wall, covered with 105 murals. This informal open-air gallery commenting on the events and emotions of the period, with many bearing slogans of peace and liberation.

The Damage of Time

Despite being placed under a heritage protection order in 1991, the East Side Gallery was in poor condition, heavily graffitied, weathered and suffering from erosion. The results was that only a few years after their birth, the paintings were in such bad condition they were barely recognisable.

There was public discussion for its demolition, which was thwarted in 1996 upon the founding of the Artists Initiative East Side Gallery, a non-profit organisation that fights for the East Side Gallery and its preservation at its original placement.

Restoration of the Berlin East Side Gallery

In June 2000, one third of the Berlin Wall East Side Gallery underwent restoration with public funding raised by the Artists Initiative. The works were repainted and protective measures taken to prevent further deterioration of the wall.

Partial Demolition

In July 2006, a 40 meter segment of the East Side Gallery was removed to create access to the River Spree from O2 World. The segment was relocated slightly west, parallel to the original position.

Second Restoration of the Berlin Wall East Side Gallery

In 2009, funds were provided to restore and preserve the remaining murals of the East Side Gallery, in honour of the 20th anniversary of the fall of the wall. This called for reconstruction of sections of the wall and the repainting of the iconic paintings. 15 of the original artists refused to recreate their murals, insisting the city of Berlin’s offer of 3000€ euros was not fair compensation. The situation escalated when the artists were told if they did not repaint the works themselves, substitute artists would be found. A lawsuit ensued, with artists pressing charges against Berlin council for both the destruction of and copying of their original work. The case is not yet resolved.

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Opening hours

Always accessible

Time to visit

1 hour and 30 minutes

Transport

U1, S3, S5, S7, S9, S75 to Warschauer Straße‎

Address

Mühlenstrasse, 10243 Berlin, Germany