The Berlin Wall the East Side Gallery

October 3 is Germany’s Unity Day, commemorating the anniversary of German reunification in 1990. Here Asif Jiffry shares impressions of a visit to what’s left of the iconic symbol of a divided Germany, 50 years after its construction.

If I asked you to name two famous walls, what are the odds you would say the Great Wall of China and the Berlin Wall?” One or two rock fans among you may also mention Pink Floyd’s “The Wall”, but with that we’ve named the most known walls I guess.

For those of you who have just arrived from another planet or have been sleeping through most history classes, here’s a glimpse of the Berlin Wall. Stick with me, it’s not that much.

Considering just how historical this Berlin landmark is, it’s amazing how much it has been neglected. Thanks only to an artistic accident of history, the East Side Gallery is one of the few surviving pieces of the Wall still standing and relatively intact. The Berlin Wall East Side Gallery is a 1.3 km-long section of the wall near the centre of Berlin. Approximately 106 paintings by artists from all over the world cover this memorial for freedom and make it the largest open air gallery in the world.  

Running from the Kreuzberg end of Warschauer Strasse until near the Ostbahnhof train station, the East Side Gallery is a large portion of the Berlin Wall that has been left over from the Cold War era and become transformed into a gallery of works from over one hundred artists from all corners of the globe.

The gallery, is “document to times of change and express the euphoria and great hopes for a better and free future for all people of the world” (guide book). Renovated in the past decade, it is quite a sight to behold.

I have walked across it so many times and each time I feel renewed awe and admiration. The level of detail and graffiti are quite intriguing, as are the varied messages portrayed by each artist, depicting anything from a crack in a divisive world to quotes showing the power of the individual to influence mankind. It’s no surprise that it is such a tourist attraction.

The easiest way to access the gallery if you are unwilling to spend a small fortune on a bus tour full of hardcore camera-wielding tourists hellbent of photographing absolutely every single thing is to make your way to Warschauer S.Bahn station, easily accessible from Alexander Platz and all other central locations.

Exit the station and turn left on the bridge, keep walking downhill until you reach another red bricked bridge, turn your head 45 degrees to the right and voila. All you have to do then is to cross the street safely and the East Side Gallery is your oyster!

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