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EAST SIDE GALLERY
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BERLIN WALL FOUNDATION

EAST SIDE GALLERY

OVERVIEW

The longest preserved piece of the Berlin Wall, standing between Ostbahnhof and Oberbaumbrücke, is known worldwide as the East Side Gallery. After the Wall fell, 118 artists from 21 countries redesigned 1.3 kilometers of the former border into the longest open-air gallery in the world. The East Side Gallery stands both as a symbol of joy over the end of Germany’s division and as a historical reminder of the inhumanity of the GDR border regime. Today it is one of Berlin's most popular tourist attractions.

Open 24 hours a day all year round
Free admission

Dmitri Vrubel, Lord Help Me To Survive This Deadly Love
Dmitri Vrubel, Lord Help Me To Survive This Deadly Love

East Side Gallery

Mühlenstraße 47 - 80
10243 Berlin

S- and U-Bahnhof Warschauer Straße

S3 S5 S7 S9 U1 U3
TramM10, M13
BUS 248, 347

East Side Gallery or Tamara-Danz-Straße

BUS 248

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THE HISTORICAL SITE

The border fortifications at this site had special significance. When the Wall was built on August 13, 1961, the River Spree between Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg became part of the border strip. The entire width of the river here belonged to East Berlin. West Berlin territory began at the riverbank on the Kreuzberg side. Thus, the East Side Gallery exists today on a section of former "Hinterlandmauer", the inner wall that had faced East Berlin.

In addition to this topographical distinction, the border grounds here exhibited another unique feature: With Mühlenstrasse serving as a "protocol route" for high-ranking visitors to the GDR, the inner wall here was visible to all. It resembled the "Border Wall 75" that usually faced West Berlin. The 3.5-meter-high wall elements were supposed to obstruct the view of the death strip.

The historical relics on Mühlenstrasse give an impression of how increased security measures and ongoing expansion of the Berlin Wall made the border increasingly invincible. Building structures on the river embankment were gradually removed in the 1970s to provide GDR border soldiers with an unobstructed “view and clear line of fire.” The entire area was razed in 1977, leaving only the Mühlenspeicher, a warehouse from the large harbor grounds. The intact urban structure here was completely destroyed by the GDR border fortifications. A section of the inner wall made of the characteristic cinder blocks from 1961 still exists here and is one of the few preserved examples of the first generation of the Wall.

Mühlenstraße 1987
Mühlenstrasse, 1987. Gerhard Danigel, CC BY-SA 4.0
Border troops patrol boat on the Spree, 1980
Border troops patrol boat on the Spree, 1980
Mühlenspeicher and border troops patrol boat on the Spree, 1980
Mühlenspeicher and border troops patrol boat on the Spree, 1980
Border fortifications on Mühlenstrasse, southeastern view, 1988
Border fortifications on Mühlenstrasse, southeastern view, 1988

The Berlin Wall

The Berlin Wall Memorial website provides more information on the history of the Berlin Wall and how the GDR border regime functioned.

At least 16 people died in the border area around Mühlenstrasse while trying to flee across the Spree to West Berlin. Some were shot and killed by GDR border soldiers; others drowned as a result of hyperthermia or exhaustion. A 25 year old and a 27 year old who were not trying to flee also died here.

Dramatic incidents also occurred on the West Berlin side of the river when children who were playing in Kreuzberg accidently fell into the river. They lost their balance or slipped and could not get out of the water. West Berlin emergency workers were not allowed to enter the Spree here and GDR border guards did not intervene. By 1975, five children had died at the Gröbenufer riverbank in Kreuzberg (now called May-Ayim-Ufer). To prevent further accidents, the Berlin Senate had access ways to the river embankment welded and a fence erected along the quay wall. In spring 1976, water emergency alarms were set up on the West Berlin side of the river.

Monument with memorial cross for Udo Düllick
Monument with memorial cross for Udo Düllick on the West Berlin Gröbenufer, today’s May-Ayim-Ufer, 1980
Water emergency signal on the West Berlin bank of the Spree, 1980
Water emergency signal on the West Berlin bank of the Spree, 1980

Biographical portraits

The Berlin Wall Memorial website presents biographical portraits of the people who died at the Berlin Wall between 1961 and 1989.

GALLERY

Following the Peaceful Revolution and the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989, the monstrous concrete barrier was torn down. It was to disappear from the cityscape as quickly as possible. The “wall peckers” did their part by chiseling away at the Wall with their hammers and picks and removing pieces as a triumphant souvenir of the end the division. But a 1.3 kilometer section of the Berlin Wall on Mühlenstrasse was left standing. At the same time, more than a hundred artists from all over the world engaged in a project that ensured that the Wall remained part of the Berlin cityscape.

In December 1989 artists from West Berlin and the GDR suggested that international artists paint the Wall on Mühlenstrasse as the first all-German art project. His idea was adopted and the “East Side Gallery,” officially commissioned by the GDR Council of Ministers, opened on September 28, 1990. The artists created murals with individual messages and statements, demonstrating that in the end, freedom and creativity are stronger than sanctions and force. The more than 100 paintings are an expression of the happiness felt over the fall of the Wall and the end of division.

The East Side Gallery artists were able to prevent their works from demolition, further decay and destruction. The city of Berlin added the East Side Gallery to its monument register in November 1991. It was the most visible outcome of the opening of the Wall, but now, with almost the entire Berlin Wall gone, it is one of the few remaining relics of the border fortifications at its original location, serving as a reminder that the city was divided for 28 years. In 1996 several of the artists became involved in the East Side Gallery Artist Initiative, an association that supports conservation of the artwork and was initiated by Kani Alavi.

Birgit Kinder, Test the Rest
Birgit Kinder, Test the Rest
Ignasi Blanch I Gisbert, Parlo D’Amor
Ignasi Blanch I Gisbert, Parlo D’Amor
Laszlo Erkel, You Can See Infinity
Laszlo Erkel, You Can See Infinity
Andy Weiss, Spirit Trave
Andy Weiss, Spirit Trave
André Sécrit, You have learned, what freedom means
André Sécrit, You have learned, what freedom means
Jürgen Grosse, Birth Of Kachinas, copied
Jürgen Grosse, Birth Of Kachinas, copied
Gerhard Lahr, Berlyn
Gerhard Lahr, Berlyn
Dieter Wien, Morning
Dieter Wien, Morning
Sándor Györffy, Fireheads
Sándor Györffy, Fireheads
Rainer Jehle, Monument, Memorial
Rainer Jehle, Monument, Memorial

Since 1996, many of the artists have been involved in the artists' initiative East Side Gallery e.V. initiated by Kani Alavi, which is committed to the preservation and care of the paintings.

In response to damage caused by exposure to the elements as well as by massive amounts of graffiti and other minor and major acts of vandalism, the East Side Gallery was entirely refurbished in 2000 and again in 2009. More than 2 million euros were made available for the last restoration work, which was carried out by the “Gesellschaft der behutsamen Stadterneuerung mbH” (S.T.E.R.N.). The renovations included stonework repairs, which required sandblasting large portions of the murals. When the work was completed, the artists were invited to repaint their murals on the Berlin Wall. Most of the artists restored their original paintings, but a small group was critical of the renovation work and refused to redo their paintings. The murals on the Wall today are the replicas created in 2009.

Due to urban development measures taken at the site, this uninterrupted section of the border could not be entirely preserved. In the years after the Wall fell, urban planning concepts focused on the Spree area around the Oberbaum Bridge. Construction plans for the land along the river were often not in sync with efforts to preserve the landmarked East Side Gallery. To accommodate the construction work, openings were made in the Wall, leading to major protests and demonstrations, especially in 2013. Most recently, in March 2018 additional sections of the painted wall were dismantled and moved to a nearby site.

Construction on the East Side Gallery, 2018
Construction on the East Side Gallery, 2018

The longest open-air gallery in the world

The online exhibition of the artists' initiative documents the condition of the paintings after their renovation in 2009.

GUIDED TOURS

Public guided tours available

The history of the East Side Gallery – overview tour

Saturdays
10:30 a.m. (English)
11:00 a.m. (German)

Please call to reserve a spot by the Friday before the respective date.
+49 (0)30 467 9866-23

See below for detailed information on all guided tours.

Group tours

To book a group tour, please use our

Prices

Public guided tours

Tours for schoolchildren are free
€3.50 / reduced rate €2.50 per person

Group tours

Tours for school groups with ten or more participants are free.
€3.50 / reduced rate €2.50 per person. Groups with less than 10 participants pay a flat fee of €35.

Contact

Berlin Wall Foundation – Visitor Services

Meeting point for tours

Mühlenstraße 73
10243 Berlin-Friedrichshain

The meeting point for tours is on the Spree side of the East Side Gallery, diagonally across from Tamara-Danz-Strasse.

Public transport

S- and U-Bahnhof Warschauer Straße

S3 S5 S7 S9 U1 U3
TramM10, M13
BUS 248, 347

Tamara-Danz-Straße

BUS 248

Schamil Gimajev, We are a people
Schamil Gimajev, We are a people

The history of the East Side Gallery

General tour

The East Side Gallery is the longest preserved segment of the Berlin Wall. The border situation here had special features that made it unusual even in the GDR. After the Wall fell, however, the former border elements here became famous worldwide: 118 artists from 21 countries painted the east side of the Berlin Wall, making it the largest open-air gallery in the world. This tour is about the artistic appropriation of the former barrier, the joy over the fall of the Wall and the history of the GDR border regime.

Duration: 1 hour

East Side Gallery
East Side Gallery

Art at the East Side Gallery

Overview tour

In spring 1990, more than 100 artists from 21 countries created the longest open-air gallery along 1.3 kilometers of the former border. The art project transformed what had once been an instrument of power into a symbol of joy over the end of the GDR. The tour uses select murals to tell the history of the historical site.

Duration: 1.5 hours

Greta Ida Csatlos, Sonic Malade
Greta Ida Csatlos, Sonic Malade

Become an art expert at the East Side Gallery!

A tour for children aged 8 to 12

During this discovery tour, children aged 8 to 12 learn about the history of the Berlin Wall and become experts on the art on the East Side Gallery. They seek answers to questions such as: Why was Berlin divided for 28 years? What happened to the Wall after the border opened? Why was the East Side Gallery created? The children work with the murals’ symbols and stories and are encouraged to develop their own understanding of the art.

Duration: 1 hour
Number of participants: max. 15

ABOUT

The Berlin Wall Foundation

The Berlin Wall Foundation was established as a foundation under public law by legislation passed on September 17, 2008. The foundation includes the Berlin Wall Memorial on Bernauer Strasse, the Marienfelde Refugee Center Museum and the Günter Litfin Memorial in the watchtower of the former GDR border troops command station at Kieler Eck.

The purpose of the foundation is to document and provide information about the history of the Berlin Wall and the mass migration from the German Democratic Republic as a part and contributory factor of the German division and the East–West conflict. It also aims to preserve historical sites and authentic remains and to provide for a dignified commemoration of the victims of Communist tyranny.

The Berlin parliament decided to hand over responsibility for the East Side Gallery to the Berlin Wall Foundation in May 2018. The Berlin Wall Foundation was given a mandate to maintain the East Side Gallery monument, to tend to its public green spaces and to provide information about the historical site.

Press contact

For press-related questions and film and photograph permits, please contact:

Hannah Berger
Head of Marketing, Press and Public Relations

© BERLIN WALL FOUNDATION 2018