Berlin itinerary - a walk on Berlin Wall and the journal of Europe's recent history
children older than 5 years
solo female travel
Berlin is a city with very strong feelings. If you ask me all the 20 century evil was concentrated here. It is a memory that you can feel and see. I'm sorry can not tell you how hip and vibrant this city is, but this in not what I felt. Short history, Germany lost the first World War, Then Hitler and Nazi Party rise to power, then the Second World War Started, then all atrocities against the Jews, Rroma people and war prisoners, then they lost the war and the country was cut in half and Berlin had the same faith and the all the Cold War tensions were felt here the most. How is that for a history? Berlin has history on every corner, on every street, and I like it that people make sure it is not forgotten even if it is cruel and painful. I felt Berlin like a wound that has not yet healed and the scars are left as a commemoration and an effort not to forget. Day1: we visited the most important landmarks of Berlin: Brandenbug Gate, Reichstag Building and Museum Island; Day 2 and Day 3: we walked 50 kilometers of the Wall.
All 3 days of this itinerary will start from Checkpoint Charlie. It is a place where worlds divide and come together in the same time. The first day will be about landmarks of Berlin, the most important places to visit if you had just one day here.
[food and beverages]
Every journey starts with a good appetite. A great place to have you breakfast.
The bear is the symbol of Berlin City. You will find it in a lot of places in Berlin and a lot of logos. Even the film festival has it in its name: Berlinale and the coat of arms of Berlin City has a BEAR in it.
This is the place where Ronald Regan (at that time the President of USA) gave it's speech on June 12, 1987 addressed to the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev. The place is specially selected in the proximity of the Berlin Wall with the Brandenburg Gate behind. At that time the Brandenburg Gate was part of East Berlin, the communist-controlled part of the city.
The Soviet War Memorial Tiergarten is a war memorial erected by the Soviet Union to commemorate its war dead, particularly the 80,000 soldiers of the Soviet Armed Forces who died during the Battle of Berlin in April and May 1945.
Designed by Heinrich Strack after 1864 to commemorate the Prussian victory in the Danish-Prussian War. It is in the middle of a roundabout. The entire column with the sculpture is a 67 meters high. It is visible from far away and recognized by the gold-lie sculpture of Victoria (8.3 metres high and weighing 35 tonnes). You can go up to see the city panorama, or you can wait for the Reichstag visit and see it from there.
The Bismarck Memorial is a memorial statue dedicated to Prince Otto von Bismarck, Minister President of the Kingdom of Prussia and the first Chancellor of the German Empire and it is one of 250 memorials to Bismarck worldwide. This memorial in Berlin portrays Bismarck in his ceremonial garb as Chancellor standing above statues of: Atlas, showing Germany's world power status at the end of the 19th century; Siegfried, forging a sword to show Germany's strong industrial and military might; Germania pinning underfoot a panther, symbolizing the suppression of discord and rebellion; a sibyl reclining on a sphinx and reading the book of history. (Source: Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bismarck_Memorial)
You have to pass through the security check-point and wait for a group to form. You go inside and take the elevator up to the rooftop. Here you can have an audio-guide, which is very useful. You visit the glass dome above the Reichtag building free of charge. You can register here, but do it with a few weeks before: https://visite.bundestag.de/BAPWeb/pages/createBookingRequest/viewBasicInformation.jsf?lang=en You can also visit a plenary sittings: https://www.bundestag.de/en/visittheBundestag/dome/plenum
If you haven't reserved a permit to visit the Reichstag building and rooftop, you can wait here in the line to reserve a place, but most probably the first available places are in a few days and the queue waiting time is around 30 minutes.
It is a garden / experience / installation where the visitor walks between 49 cement blocks (7 x 7) that are covered with willow trees. Willow is one off the four species and it has special meaning in Jewish culture.
The East Side Gallery is an 1316 meters long open-air gallery consisting of 105 paintings on the Berlin Wall. The gallery is a protected heritage and it is aconsidered a celebration of the unification of Berlin and the unity between people because it was painted afteer the Berlin Wall felt. From a place of terror and separation it became a place of arts and has more than 3 million visitors every year. When we went there it was raining, which didn't stop people from visiting this place. You can find more information about East Side Gallery: https://artsandculture.google.com/exhibit/east-side-gallery/gQAJocMp?hl=de and http://www.eastsidegallery-berlin.com/data/eng/index-eng.htm
From here starts our journey along the Berlin Wall. From the total 160 km of the Berlin wall we will walk about 40 km. As you walk along the Berlin wall and you see life taking place around it, try to imagine how it would be like to see a 3.6 meters high wall separating so artificially 2 worlds that are actually one. We will walk part of the Berliner Mauerweg (Berlin Wall Route) You can find a library of multimedia materials related to the rise and fall of the Berlin Wall: https://www.the-berlin-wall.com/ Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berlin_Wall TED: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A9fQPzZ1-hg
My God, Help Me to Survive This Deadly Love by Dmitri Vrubel
This is one of the most powerful and controversial from all the paintings in the East Side Gallery. The mural depicts Leonid Brezhnev and Erich Honecker in a fraternal embrace and it is a reproduction a photography that captured the moment in 1979 during the 30th anniversary celebration of the foundation of the German Democratic Republic. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/My_God,_Help_Me_to_Survive_This_Deadly_Love The original photo of The Socialist Fraternal Kiss between Leonid Brezhnev and Erich Honecker that is the inspiration for this painting: https://rarehistoricalphotos.com/socialist-fraternal-kiss-leonid-brezhnev-erich-honecker-1979/
Worlds People, wir sind ein Volk by Schamil Gimajev
I love this piece because it is a continuous line forming shapes and humans and it requires attention in order to understand the details. The message Worlds People, we are one people, and I think the message gets across as everything overlaps, interacts, intersect, complement each other. Also I love the use of colors.
Trabant car breaking the Berlin Wall The Trabant is an icon of the former communist state East Germany and used to be a very popular car in GDR and other soviet countries. When the Berlin Wall felt many East Germans streamed into the West with their Trabant Cars. There is an urban myth that Trabi was made out of cardboard, which apparently is not true, but nonetheless it was a cheap and non sophisticated vehicle. And seeing it break the Berlin Wall it is a statement and a joke in the same time. The car number is NOV-9-89 - the day the Berlin Wall felt.
Original in German: Es geschah im November it refers to 9 November 1989 the day the Berlin Wall. The painting shows an opening in the wall and a crowd going only in one direction: From East Berlin to West Berlin.
It is the timeline of the wall, what is has accomplished in the 28 years of existence, it is the aftermath of an stupid yet dangerous idea, it is the number of people that died trying to escape to West Berlin.
This marks the end of East Side Gallery, but he Berlin Wall goes on so does our journey. Unfortunately here are some buildings covering the exact position of the wall. As I walked the wall and saw a lot of real estate development where the wall used to be, I was wondering how does it feel to live there, how is the energy of your home if you live in a place where atrocities happened.
Orientation on the position of Berlin Wall
When you walk the path of the Berlin wall you will find sometimes marking on the road with 2 lines formed by stone in the asphalt and from time to time a metal plate with the markings: BERLINER MAUER 1961 - 1989 meaning Berlin Wall and the period when the wall was functioning as a barrier between West Berlin and East Berlin and also the 2 powers: democracy and communism. Besides the markings on the road, there are poles with the indication of the wall every time it changes direction.
During the Cold War it was one border crossing between East and West Berlin and the most important border crossing point for goods and mail. You can not tell just by looking at this road that this a place where history has its pages, so a memorial plaque tell the story of this place: On 18 April 1962, three man from East Berlin tried to break through the barriers at the checkpoint in a lorry. Although hit by fore opened by the border guards, the driver, Klaus Brueske, succeeded in driving the lorry into West Berlin territory. He died of his injuries immediately and his two passengers were seriously injured. To prevent the repetition, a slalom barrier was added at this checkpoint. Despite this, two men and two women made a further attempt to escape on 26 December 1965. The border guards shot and killed the 27-year old driver, Heinz Schoneberger. His three companions were arrested.
This memorial is dedicated to John Runnings who in 1986 climbed the Wall of Berlin from the West side on a self-made ladder and hit the wall with a hammer. He was pulled down by the border guards of the GDR and sentenced to 18 months imprisonment, but released after three months and flown out of Berlin. After the fall of the wall he was also called Father of the Wall Woodpeckers . At this site there are several pieces of the original wall displayed on different position: upwards or lying down
This museum is placed on the site where the most important Nazi institutions of terror and persecution were located between 1933 and 1945: the headquarters of Secret State Police (Gestapo), the Reich SS Leadership and Security Service (SD and SS). The buildings were destroyed during the war and the remaining parts were demolished in the next years I think in an attempt to erase the memory of atrocities. It is a free museum and a powerful one, with photos, historic information and videos and audio recording from the Nazi period.
This monument represents the desire of Korean people to reunite like Germany and destroy the wall that is separating them. The architecture resembles the Sangnyangjeong World Heritage from Seoul. The monument is places where the Berlin Wall used to be.
The Hotel was built between 1907 and 1908 and it was the scene of popular tea and dancing afternoons until 1945 when it was destroyed during the bombing of Berlin. Just some parts of the hotel survived and they were incorporated in the Sony Center for preservation.
It is a memorial to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust and it consists of a 19,000-square-meter site covered with 2711 concrete slabs. As you enter, the slabs are only a few centimeters and the further you go they grow around you to up to 5 meters. The slabs have a rectangular shape (2.38 m x 0.95 m) and are displayed in rows: 54 x 87. From above they look almost the same height but the ground is inclined so the slabs grow near you as you immerse yourself in the experience. The experience is profound, unlike other memorials and place of remembering, this one is an organic experience of solitude, desolation, despair, agony and uncertainty. As the concrete slabs grow around you the feeling grows even if it is broad daylight and you know you are in the middle of a city. The instinct for survival kicks in and your imagination starts to plot the worst scenarios. The hole place looks like a graveyard with coffins made out of concrete and you have to find your way out. It was inaugurated on May 10, 2005, sixty years after the end of World War II in Europe.
The station was on the East Berlin side and between 13 August 1961 and 1 September 1990 the trains did not stop in this station even if the Reichsbahn continued to operate the line. Trains with stop only in stations accessible from the West Berlin and they would pass the East Berlin stations. As passengers look through the window train, they would see this abandoned and poorly lit stations called ghost stations. Another proof of how absurd the idea of division and creating a wall would be.