Less than 30 years ago the Berlin Wall stood as a symbol of oppression and imprisonment the world over. Over 150km of concrete fortifications separated East Berlin from the West, leaving West Berlin as an island floating in a sea of Socialism. However, now, in 2013, with very little of the original wall remaining, it has become arguably Berlin’s most popular tourist attraction.
Pay attention through this list as we give you the ultimate guide to seeing Berlin’s most famous landmark, from the quickest and easiest ways, to the most intense and informative. You cannot leave Berlin without a story about the wall, so let Oh-Berlin get you started.
A lasting Impression – Remaining sections of the Wall
Of course, the East Side Gallery is our number one tip for visitors. Whether you’re here for business or pleasure, you would be foolish to leave before seeing this 1.3km long mural against oppression. Covered in more than a hundred original art works by commissioned artists, it’s a beautiful site to walk along, and a massively empowering image.
2. Bornholmer Straße Border Crossing
This remaining section of the original Berlin Wall near the Bornholmer Straße S-Bahn station on the Pankow/Wedding border gives a contrasting experience to Friedrichshain’s East Side Gallery. Once the GDR’s most northerly border crossing in Berlin and the point where the wall was first breached in 1989, the remaining 200m section of original inner wall has been left in its original form more-so than most other sections through the city. What you can experience here, then, is an authentic impression as to the realities of living within the walled city as it’s less of an ‘attraction’ and more of a living piece of history.
3. The Berlin Wall Memorial
The appropriately named, Berlin Wall Memorial is a lasting section of the original wall and a visitor center, aimed at providing tourists with an authentic and vivid representation of life either side of the synonymous border. Located on Bernauer Straße, the site hosts the only remaining section of the wall with the original, preserved grounds behind it. The visitor center features authentic photographs of intrepid escape attempts, real-life commentaries from those involved and a huge collection of vivid documents.
Looking to Experience it ALL, though?Then pack your hiking boots!
4. Mauerguide – Walk the Wall
If the Berlin Wall is your main source of interest in Berlin, then why not experience the most famous section in its entirety? The new Mauerguide is a PDA system with GPS tracking and audio/video presentations, allowing you to track the path of the section of wall that separated West Berlin from East Berlin, entirely in your own time. The device will take you to all of the major Berlin Wall memorials, such as the Brandenburg Gate and Checkpoint Charlie, as well as the three others covered above. Alongside this, 22 other points of interest are accessible via the PDA map along the city centre route. You can rent the device for either 4 hours, or for the whole day, and track the wall for up to 14km or as far as you can make it.
You can pick up the PDA’s from the Bernauer Straße memorial center; from a designated kiosk at Checkpoint Charlie and from the Brandenburg Gate U-Bahn station, at Pariser Platz. They are priced at €8 for 4 hours, or €10 per day.
For more information call +49 (0) 308 8713624 or visit www.mauerguide.com
5. The Berlin Wall Trail
For true Berlin Wall junkies, the only way to experience the Wall is a complete one directional cycle of the trail upon which it once stood. Sounding, perhaps, a little more daunting than is true, the ride is very pleasant and ultra-informative. With regular sign posts pointing the direction of the trail, as well as numerous memorials and information points this look at the former Berlin Wall is as intensive as one could get. However, bear in mind that this route will take you across 160km of the city, so perhaps it’s wise to choose either your most desired sections, or break it up into several chunks. 14 prearranged routes are easily navigable and will take you across some of the most interesting sections of the wall.
This all-encumbering cycle will take you past all of the memorial sites for victims who were killed at the wall, as well as dozens of remaining wall segments and even two concentration camps. You will also see many beautiful areas of the city all-to-often ignored by the long-weekender. For people looking for a comprehensive experience unrivaled in relation to the Berlin Wall, then this is definitely the choice for you.
For a complete listing of different routes visit www.berlin.de/mauer/mauerweg/index/index.en.php
If you don’t want to plan your own tour, then we can highly recommend Fat Tire Bike Tours’s Berlin Wall and Cold War Bike Tour. Here an expert guide will take you to all of the major locations and remaining wall sections, helping them to come to life with expert knowledge and fun commentary.