Street art is pretty much the main reason why I wanted to visit Berlin in the first place. This city is often referred to as the street art capital of Europe. This city is buzzing with creativity, there’s art at every street corner and it’s almost like there are no restrictions. A city of freedom. It all sounded like music to my ears and so I had high expectations. During my four days in Berlin I planned a whole day to explore all the works and alternative places this city has to offer. In this article a small summary of what I managed to see in this city.
East Side Gallery
If you think about Berlin, you immediately think of the Berlin wall. The 45 kilometer long fence that separated the communist east from the capitalist west for over 25 years. The year it fell and Germany reunited again was also the year I was born. So I haven’t experienced it myself, but I’ve always read about in the history books and now I had the chance to see it in real life. Today you can find the longest piece of the wall near the station Ostbahnhof. Here the wall is more than a kilometer long and not boring at all. Every inch is filled with the most colorful pieces of art and graffiti. In 1990 the city council invited over 100 artists to express their vision of freedom on the wall. The result is a beautiful monument filled with street art and hidden political messages.
The art works have been on the wall for almost 16 years. That’s a long time and that also has some negative sides. For example, it needs to be re-painted once in a while because colors are starting to fade away. Kind of logical because weather is always a factor. But worse than that is the fact tthat the wall is smeared with ugly tags and graffiti. That’s why city council decided to fence important parts of the wall off. You can still see the street art, but it’s not that impressive as it used to be. But hey, if this is what it takes to preserve this important piece of history then this is what needs to be done.
The murals of Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain
Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain are seen as the most trendy neighborhoods of Berlin. They’re known for their raw and alternative atmosphere. You’ll find here flea markets, cozy cafes and lots of street art. I was especially struck by the murals these areas have to offer. In Kreuzberg you’ll find these between Görlitzer Park and Schlesisches Tor. I spotted here the yellow men of Os Gemeos, but also the dead animals of ROA and the astronaut of Victor Ash that watches over Kreuzberg as a guard. Really impressive!
Whereas Kreuzberg is the multiculti area, Friedrichshain is more known as a young and hipster neighborhood. Also here you can find several grand artists. Until recently Blu had two murals in this area. Sadly one is now covered in black paint. They say Blu himself gave orders to do this, because the neighborhood was becoming too popular and the rent was going up. During our days in Berlin we heard people complain about this several times and that’s why they allow ugly tags on the buildings because it makes the area less attractive.
The courtyard of Haus Schwarzenberg
Berlin is not only the city of murals, it also has several small art pieces which you can find on every street corner. An example is the dancing girls of Sobre. You can find these women all over the city and they refer to the famous clubbing scene of Berlin. But if you don’t have the time or energy to look at evert corner for art, you should go to Haus Schwarzenberg. Here you can find all sorts of pieces of art. From paste-ups and stickers to wild knitting. The composition of the works change all the time, because so many artists want to create their works here. It’s that cool. I especially liked the Berlinerin of the artist El Bocho. It’s like looking at a giant cartoon on the wall. This area is also used by several small art galleries, like the Anne Frank Center. For some tourists this is a bit confusing, because they think this is the place Anne Frank used to live (of course not).
What are your favorite art pieces in Berlin?