Berlin truly is a unique city.

Because of its long and agitated history (which I won’t get into – God knows I’m no historian, Wikipedia would be a better option than me!), Berlin has an unparalleled architectural heritage, which translates into some unique street art as well, as Cheryl tells us about every other day.

But what I want to write about today is not exactly street art – it may seem like it at first glance, but it hold much more history than a simple, impromptu graffiti.

Does the East Side Gallery ring a bell?

east side gallery photos

The East Side Gallery is, in short, an international memorial for freedom. Located on the east side of the city, in the surprising Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg neighborhood, it’s the longest-lasting and largest open air gallery on Earth – it was established in 1990, and is 1300 meters long.

Impressive, uh?

east side gallery photos

east side gallery photos

east side gallery photos

It not only represents what Berlin was all about for the second half of the 20th century, aka the Berlin Wall, but also a more actual take on the events, and modern ideas like liberty, equity, peace, respect, individualism.

Concepts that were actually quite flouted only twenty years ago.

east side gallery photos

east side gallery photos

east side gallery photos

I was quite touched by the East Side Gallery, and other remains of the Berlin Wall around the city.

I don’t know if it’s because I’m not European, or too young, or too naive, but for me, the idea of war and the  drastic measures it’s often synonym with are very abstract notions. Racism, disregard of fundamental rights, hatred, discrimination, broken families… It feels like these belong to the Hollywood movie sets, instead of actual pages of our history as whole.

I’m not entirely certain that wars, regardless of the scale, are a thing of the past – who knows what the future hold. But I think that by visiting memorials, and really think about the related events,  makes each of us grow a little more…

Hopefully, grow above war.

east side gallery photos

Have you been to the East Side Gallery? How did you interpret the events? What’s your favorite East Side Gallery photos?

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17 Responses so far.

  1. Efrutik says:

    I have been to the East Side Gallery while in Berlin about almost two years ago. Went to see it with a friend I made through Couch Surfing, it was definitely nice. So glad we withstood the miserable cold weather to walk the entire 1300 meters of the open air gallery (it seriously was freezing!).

    I will visit the gallery again once back in Berlin in this summer/fall for sure! I interpreted the wall as a symbol of creativity that people can cultivate against oppression. I liked many of the illustrations from the wall. I must admit that I really liked the Berlin and New York one(not pictured here) probably b/c I am affectionate towards both cities.

  2. Laurence says:

    I loved all the street art when I visited Berlin – and this was no exception!

  3. Melissa says:

    I visited Berlin in 2010 and was instantly enamoured with the city. I liked the grittiness of it, the graffiti and art everywhere. I went to the East Side gallery and walked the entire thing. What I got from it was a sense of hope. That something so horrible can happen to people but they have covered it with art to showcase in the present day. They have overcome that past. Have you visited the Imperial War Museum in London? There is a section which discusses the wars going on in the world since world war 2. Basically people will never stop warring with each other, sad but I think very true.

    • I LOVE the IWM in London. My first true experience with wars in Europe, and it really moved me. And I agree on this – as long as there are two people on this planet, they’ll find a way to fight each other. Sad but true.

  4. Great photos. I find the Brezhnev Honecker iconinc. To me it pretty much says it all.

  5. I went to Berlin on a tour when I was not too far out of college. It was such an incredible thing to see in-person, and it was my first experience with graffiti art.

  6. I love the art work on the old Berlin Wall…. stunning and so politically interesting as well. Did you also go to Checkpoint charlie museum? It was my favourite museum in Berlin

  7. I have visited the place a few years ago. Although I am traveling through Germany again this year (I have just been to Lubeck yesterday, but now I am in Aarhus, Denmark with the plan to return to Germany later this month) I don’t think I’ll make it again to Berlin. So, I’ll just have to dust off some old photos and share them with you when I get back home.

  8. Cheryl says:

    I’m obsessed with street art! Berlin is seriously one of the best places to find it, that’s for sure. Thanks for the link-back! :)

  9. I was just old enough to remember the day the wall came down. What a great way to preserve history by making it a art gallery.

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