ultimate sights: no. 2 – East Side Gallery, Germany


My next sight is also located in Berlin, and I visited this one the day after I went to the Brandenburger Tor. This time I was accompanied by two super nice girls I met in my hostel. That is one of the hardest things about traveling solo, finding people to hang out with. Luckily I managed and we had a great, but very cold day!

the facts
The East Side Gallery is a leftover part of the Berlin Wall and considered to be a international symbol of freedom. The total gallery consists of 105 different murals, and all of them were painted in 1990, after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. The entire wall section is 1,3km and has many different paintings on it. Unfortunately many murals have been defaced by vandalism and graffiti over the years. Restoration of all the murals was started in 2009. The murals portrays the artist’s ideas about freedom and every artist has done this in vastly different ways. Although the actual concrete Wall is original, it was really part of the Berlin Wall, but all the murals were painted later. This because East German authorities did not allow the painting of the wall. On the picture above you can see the Wall on the side of the Spree River: this is mostly graffiti.


the experience
I had the unfortunate privilege to visit the East Side Gallery on the absolute coldest day I have ever had the honor of experiencing. I am pretty sure that I could feel my tears freezing on my face and after 3 minutes outside the feeling in my hands was pretty much non-existent. Luckily I had 2 girls with me that were able to get their hands working, so they made all the lovely pictures. The cold weather did prevent us from seeing the entire Wall section, because it was simply too cold to stay outside longer.

It was, however, very impressive to see this. Although the art is not originally from the occupation era, it is representative of that period. I was impressed by the different ways that the artists interpreted the concept of freedom. Some murals were very whimsical, while others take a more political approach. Perhaps one of the best known sections of the wall is the one above. It depicts Leonid Brezhnev (General Secretary of the Russian Communist Party) and Erich Honecker (General Secretary of the German Socialist Party) kissing. Especially the most well-known murals were all protected by fences. Frankly, this annoys me. Not that the fences are there, but that people don’t have the decency to keep their hands of this wall.

Either way, it is very much worth to go here. History is much more prominent here than it is at the Brandenburger Tor. I will come back one day to see the rest of the murals.



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