A definite must see in Berlin for both art and history lovers is the East Side Gallery.
Located near the city's centre, this international memorial for freedom is the most extensive open-air gallery in the world, spanning 1.3 kilometres and features 101 images painted onto a remaining section of the Berlin Wall.
While in Berlin the East Side Gallery is always high on my list of things to see.
After meeting at Brandenburg gate, some sight-seeing in the general area and a cheeky smoke in the Tiergarten, my friend Amanda and I decided to make our way across town to the East Side gallery.
I am unsure - maybe our brains weren't functioning, or perhaps it is confusing, but ignoring the hour we spent figuring out the S-Bahn and U-Bahn confuffle in Berlin, the gallery is easy to get to and is only a short walk from Berlin Warschauer Straße or Berlin Ostbahnhof (train stations).
Once arriving, we laughed, realising the gallery was 300 meters from Amanda's backpacker hostel, and she knew exactly how to get back to her accommodation quickly from Brandenburg Gate.
I didn't realise this until returning to the East Side Gallery, but I was quite lucky the previous year. The murals had just been retouched and were in a much better condition in 2012.
As the East Side Gallery is outdoors, erosion is a factor; however, vandalism and graffiti are significant issues. I was shocked to see the condition of the wall upon returning, some of my favourite pieces had been ruined or covered by the pointless scribble.
In saying this, some of the graffiti does add a particular type of ambience. I am a fan of the graffiti covering the East Side Gallery sign and Ohne Titel (Untitled) by Hans Bierbrauer at the beginning of the gallery. However, I believe that out of respect it should stop there and not continue to spill onto the rest of the wall/ artworks. Quite a few of the artists are now deceased, and it is disappointing to see their work ruined.
Below are some comparisons of the condition of the wall one year apart.
DANKE ANDREK SACHAROW BY DIMITRI WRUBEL
TEST THE BEST (TEST THE REST) BY BIRGIT KINDER
OHNE TITEL (UNTITLED) BY LUTZ POTTIEN
DEVELOPER REMOVES SEGMENTS OF THE EAST SIDE GALLERY
In March 2013 a developer removed a 1.2-meter section of the wall (Himlen over Berlijn by Karina Bjerregaard & Lotte Haubart Nielsen) to build an access path to a new residential complex. A substantial proportion of Berliners have a vested interest in preserving the remaining stretch of the Berlin wall, and the decision, sure enough, caused an uproar.
Protesters gathered in their thousands from early March upon the removal of the first panel until finally, at 5 AM in the morning on the 27th of March 2013, the developer swooped in guarded by 250 police and the final pieces were taken (read about it here).
Personally, I was pretty disgusted to hear that such a piece of history could be compromised so easily and removed for something as petty as a driveway. However, oh wow did my morals, unfortunately, fly out the window when on my next visit I noticed I could buy pieces of "the wall" as a tacky souvenir. I highly doubt my small part is genuine, but for now, I will ignore common sense and intuition, and tell myself that I have a little slice of German history placed on my desk.
EXTRA IMAGES [click to enlarge]
EAST SIDE GALLERY LOCATION
Mühlenstraße, 10243 Berlin, Germany
by Natalie Marie.
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