East Side Gallery, el mejor arte callejero en Berlín

This time Lucy invites us to tour one of the most visited places by tourists and locals in the city of Berlin: East Side Gallery.

Berlin welcomed me with open arms and a pleasant temperature considering the time of year - almost 10° C - to walk its streets in February. My anxiety to discover this destination was so great that while planning this trip I compiled a lot of information that I’ll share with you.

Since the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, street art has established itself as a form of expression in the city of Berlin. And although the letters and drawings that cover public spaces today point to new recipients, they continue to attract crowds both for their aesthetics and for their content. East Side Gallery has 1.3 km of wall - the longest stretch that is preserved - with 103 murals painted in the 90s by artists from all over the world who tried to explain through the murals, the change that occurred after the fall of the Berlin Wall . This initiative was led by Kani Alavi, an Iranian art student who lived in Berlin, who brought together a total of 118 artists from 21 countries who painted the works for months.

It is a mixture of walls that speak, criticize and dream; fertile ground for the development of the most diverse expressions of popular culture that he decided to visit on a sunny winter Sunday.

The East Side Gallery is located between the Oberbaumbrücke bridge and the Ost-Bahnhof train station, on the banks of the River Spree.

I arrived at the place through the tourist bus route that runs through the city. One of its stops is near the one ends of the Berlin Wall, on Mühlenstraße in the Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg district, along the banks of the River Spree.

Said tourist bus left me right where the mural of the kiss between Leonidas Brezhnev (president of the USSR) and the president of communist East Germany, Erich Honecker, is. Its popularity is due to the fact that in the West this gesture was very controversial, while in Russia it was something of the most common.

I visited the wall from one side to the other, savoring each piece, looking at the details, trying to interpret the message that each mural sends. And I understood that no artist wanted to miss out on the privilege of being represented on the wall. They dedicated themselves to reminding humanity of the painful fact of the division of Berlin and Germany that came to an end with the fall of the wall in the hands of the people. That is why this East Gallery is considered a symbol of freedom. The paintings have different themes and styles, the result of the technique of each author. But they all have a common intention: to tell with images the feelings that existed in Germany in a historical time. In my opinion, the gallery of murals is the emblem of the end of an era in which the whole world changed forever, and that we must not forget who we were in the past and who we will be in the future.

Where to eat near the Berlin East Side Gallery murals?

Near the Oberbaumbrücke bridge I found a sausage, hamburger, potato and beer stand where the delicious German aroma invited me to enjoy the typical classic currywurst. It is a German sausage cooked on the grill, cut into small pieces and served with ketchup and curry powder on top. They are accompanied with some German rolls and French fries; and of course the famous German beer. Along the banks of the River Spree, numerous beachside bars can be found, a perfect setting to enjoy a break between the months of May to September.

Coming to the end of my tour, I leave you with a list of the works that I liked the most:

  • The Kiss: painted in 1990 by the Russian artist Dmitri Vrúbel. At the bottom you can read "Mein Gott, hilf mir, diese tödliche Liebe zu überleben" which means "My God, help me to survive this mortal love".
  • Trabi mural: the trabi was the car of East Germany and in the mural you can see how it crosses the wall. In fact, on the license plate it bears the date of the fall of the wall: November 9, 1989.
  • Mural with the slogan: in this mural you can read the following sentence: "Many small people, who in many small places, do many small things, can change the face of the world."
  • Heads of the artist Thierry Noi: a French painter living in Berlin. In the 1980s, before the fall of the wall, this artist decided to transform the gray and cold wall that he saw from his window into something more colorful and began to scribble drawings and political protests on the western part of the wall. The colorful heads on his side are also a Berlin icon.

Be sure to visit East Side Gallery, the open-air art gallery that reminds us that street art is living art, in constant movement. What is here today may be gone tomorrow.

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