Exploring the East Side Gallery’s beautiful street art

In the very heart of Berlin lies street art that has witnessed the rise and fall of history, a gallery that tells stories of division, struggle and ultimately triumph. The East Side Gallery, a living tableau inscribed on the remains of the Berlin Wall, attracts travellers and history lovers. With over a hundred fascinating murals on display, this open-air art exhibition is a tangible relic of a divided past and an inspiring symbol of reunification. Enter a world where art transcends its traditional boundaries. This is no ordinary gallery walk, the East Side Gallery is the largest open air gallery in the world and is an odyssey through the heart and soul of Berlin's transformative history, an experience that promises to leave an indelible mark on every traveller lucky enough to set foot on its ground.

East Side Gallery

- © Eddy Galeotti / Shutterstock

The East Side Gallery’s history

During the Cold War, the site of what we know today as the East Side Gallery served as a border post, when access to East Germany was a privilege reserved for West Germans. This section essentially functioned as an internal barrier, an additional defence to stop fleeing East Germans before they crossed the fearsome "death strip" - a perilous no-man's-land where guards were authorised to open fire without hesitation.

The seismic waves of the peaceful revolution of 1989 led to the dismantling of a large part of the Berlin Wall, but a section remained, crystallising its historic essence. The following year, an extraordinary event took place along the eastern face of this remaining section of wall: a gathering of over 100 artists from 21 nations came together for an emblematic painting session. Thus was born the East Side Gallery, a living canvas that would later receive official monument status from the local authorities.

Some of the gallery's most famous murals are forever etched in the annals of history and popular culture. Take, for example, Birgit Kinder's "Test the Rest", which depicts a Trabi car driving through the wall, or Dmitri Vrubel's "My God, Help Me To Survive This Deadly Love", which shows East German leader Erich Honecker and Soviet icon Leonid Brezhnev enjoying an unlikely fraternal embrace. Another striking work is "Detour to the Japanese Sector" by the East German artist Thomas Klingenstein, a striking depiction of the Japanese landscape, a realm off-limits to East German citizens.

But time has taken its toll. In 2009, the gallery underwent a controversial restoration due to the deterioration of the wall caused by the elements and marks left by tourists. The operation resulted in the removal of several murals, prompting artists to join in the repainting efforts, encapsulating the ever-changing nature of this living historical canvas.

“Detour to the Japanese Sector” by Thomas Klingenstein

- © meunierd / Shutterstock

What to see at the East Side Gallery?

With more than a hundred works of art adorning what was once the eastern side of the wall, artists commented on the political changes that emerged due to the fall of the Berlin Wall. Some of the works in the East Side Gallery's vast collection have become remarkably popular, such as Dmitri Vrubel's "Brotherly Kiss".

“Brotherly Kiss” by Dmitri Vrubel

- © karnizz / Shutterstock

In addition, Birgit Kinder's depiction of a Trabant triumphantly breaking through the barrier is a must-see of the gallery. These works of art go far beyond mere postcard motifs - they invite you to capture their essence personally through your lens.

Berlin trabant by Brigit Kinder

- © Roman Sigaev / Shutterstock

The length of the East Side Gallery

Stretching an impressive 1,316 metres along the banks of the River Spree in Friedrichshain, this open-air art gallery is an unparalleled record of history. This continuous portion has the distinction of being the longest surviving section of the Berlin Wall. When the wall collapsed, 118 artists from 21 different countries joined forces to adorn the East Side Gallery with their creative expressions. The gallery, born of this collaboration, was officially inaugurated on 28 September 1990, transforming the remains of the division into an open-air art haven.

Barely a year after its creation, this remarkable space was granted protected memorial status. This decision cemented the importance of the East Side Gallery, not only as an artistic spectacle, but also as a place of remembrance, preserving the memory of a tumultuous past while celebrating the unity that eventually emerged from its shadow.

The East Side Gallery

- © ilolab / Shutterstock

Practical information about your visit

Schulz Hotel Berlin Wall at the East Side Gallery Berlin

Schulz Hotel Berlin Wall at the East Side Gallery

The Schulz Hotel Berlin Wall at the East Side Gallery is in Berlin's trendy Friedrichshain district, right next to the East Side Gallery. The hotel features free Wi-Fi, a canteen bar and an open-air café overlooking the Berlin Wall.
84
From
£75 /night
Book!

How to get to the East Side Gallery?

By car: 

  • If you prefer driving, you can rent a car or use a taxi service to get to the East Side Gallery. But, keep in mind that traffic and parking might be challenging. 

By bus: 

  • Berlin has an extensive public transportation network, including buses! You can take a bus to go from your accommodation to the East Side Gallery. 

By subway: 

  • The subway (U-Bahn) in Berlin can take you to the East Side Gallery stopping at the Schlesisches Tor station

Some things to keep in mind for your visit

  • Make sure to bring a fully charged camera or phone to take pictures of the art!
  • Be prepared to walk the 1316 metres of this magnificent gallery. 

Useful Link

Berlin's official travel website:

https://www.visitberlin.de/en/east-side-gallery/?utm_source=easyvoyage          

by Faustine PEREZ
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