When it comes to seeing Berlin’s history, the Berlin Wall is an absolute must see tourist sight in Berlin! Though the Berlin Wall (Berliner Mauer in German) was abolished in 1989, there are still remnants of its structure throughout the city of Berlin and is definitely worth seeing for any history junkie or general tourist.
So what exactly is the Berlin Wall? Built during the Cold War in 1961 by the German Democratic Republic, the Berlin Wall was erected to keep the eastern district of Berlin separate from the western part of Berlin. East Berlin fell under communism during the Cold War whereas the west did not. During the time the Berlin Wall was up and being used as a divider, there were various armed guards patrolling the perimeter and heavily armed towers to protect East Berlin from “fascism”. Of course the idea of keeping the Berlin Wall in place wouldn’t last forever and so was dismantled in 1989 to unify both parts of Berlin once again.
The Berlin Wall was once a whopping 140 kilometers long but now all that remains is a few bits and pieces of it here and there. The most famous part of the Berlin Wall is probably what is known as the ‘East Side Gallery’ which is located on the eastern side of the wall in Muhlenstrasse 1. It is basically what can only be described as a giant mural filled with absolutely stunning paintings! It is 1.3 kilometers in length and was a canvas for some 102 talented artists. It is now known today to be the world’s biggest open air gallery. With all that being said, there are other very good places to check out the remnants of the wall. You should definitely head on over to Mauerpark and Checkpoint Charlie to catch some of the best glimpses of the wall.
The Berlin Wall is completely free of charge to visit and remains to be one of the most notable historic points of interest in Berlin. I highly advise that you take one of the many walking tours in Berlin which will talk through the history of the wall in great detail and show you some of its very best bits. If joining a tour isn’t to your tastes and you would much prefer to go it alone then I definitely recommend reading the history information points which can be found near each part of the wall. Some of the stories you will hear about the lives lost and families broken because of this wall are really moving so you should definitely prepare yourself. If you desire, there are a few gift shops located throughout Berlin which actually sell pieces of the wall to tourists – perhaps not the perfect present to bring home to children but definitely worth getting yourself one as a souvenir!
So no matter how long your stay is in Berlin, whether it is a few weeks, a few days or perhaps even just 48 hours!, make sure you visit the Berlin Wall and educate yourself on its history!