The 35th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall in 2024
Today is a special day for Berlin and the whole of Germany. Because 9th November, 1989 is the day on which the Berlin Wall fell - one of the most significant events in our recent history. For 28 years, it divided the metropolis into East and West along more than 155 kilometres and affected life in the city. The fall of the Wall was in turn the starting point for the reunification of Germany on 3rd October, 1990, the advent into freedom.
35 years since the fall of the Wall: Berlin will celebrate this historic anniversary in 2024. Numerous events and ceremonial acts are already being planned, more details of which will be published at a later date. Incidentally, more than three decades after its fall, the Berlin Wall still attracts travellers from all over the world. Berlin reminds us of its past as a divided city in many places. The Berlin Wall Memorial was the third most visited museum and memorial in 2022.
East Side Gallery, Parlament der Bäume or Invalidenfriedhof: In this newsletter, we present a wide variety of places where you can go on a quest for traces. And our podcast “Berlin Unboxed” also brings the moving history of the city to life.
Experience the Berlin Wall
Construction of the Berlin Wall started on 13th August, 1961. It changed a nation overnight. The Wall - it symbolises a divided city, a divided country, the Cold War. Although it was built over six decades ago, it is still very much alive in many places. For instance at the East Side Gallery, the world's longest open-air gallery. This art mile stretches for 1,316 metres along the banks of the River Spree in Friedrichshain, making it the longest continuous section of the Wall. 100 works of art document the political developments of the years of upheaval. Especially popular: the brother’s kiss by Dimitrji Vrubel or the Trabant breaking through the wall by Birgit Kinder.
Equally impressive is the Parlament der Bäume gegen Gewalt und Krieg, which is located on the banks of the River Spree opposite the Reichstag building. Artist Ben Wagin created this memorial site in 1990 on the site of the former border strip of the Berlin Wall. He worked on 58 sections of the wall for this, granite slabs commemorate 258 victims of the Wall who died at the inner-German border. The centrepiece of the memorial site is a square of 16 trees planted by the 16 German prime ministers in 1990 - the actual Parliament of Trees (Parlament der Bäume).
There are two important places in Mitte that convey Berlin's history impressively. The Gedenkstätte Berliner Mauer on the former border strip comprises four theme stations with historical audio and visual material, a visitor centre and an observation tower. There is a 70 metre long section of the Berlin Wall with a border strip and a watchtower on Bernauer Straße. The sector border also ran through the Invalidenfriedhof at the time. More than 90 per cent of the graves had to make way for the death strip with its watchtowers, control strips, the running track for the guard dogs and the patrolling road. Parts of around 180 metres of the former hinterland wall have been preserved here.
Tracing the Berlin Wall
On foot or by bike: The Berliner Mauerweg absolutely worth it on fine autumn days. It marks the course of the former GDR border fortifications to West Berlin and runs for 155 kilometres around the former half-city. The Berliner Mauerweg is divided into 14 individual stretches that are between seven and 21 kilometres long. Historically interesting sections with remains or traces of walls alternate with scenic stretches. One possible tour, for example, goes from Wollankstraße to Nordbahnhof or from Potsdamer Platz to Warschauer Brücke.
And if the weather doesn't co-operate? Then you can still trace the Berlin Wall, for instance in the Mauermuseum – Haus am Checkpoint Charlie. Visitors travel back in time to a divided Berlin. Rainer Hildebrandt founded the Mauermuseum in 1962, which he used to document the escape plans of GDR citizens. Original objects such as an old Volkswagen with a hiding place in the boot, a mini-submarine, a hot air balloon and a pushed-together suitcase relate these escape attempts.
Even the Tränenpalast provides insights into personal stories. In 1962, the GDR built a terminal building at Friedrichstraße station, which was used for departures from East to West Berlin. Friends and families said goodbye in the glass and steel pavilion - mostly in tears. The permanent exhibition “Site of German Division” commemorates these fates.
What did an autumn day in 1980s Berlin look like? This is shown by the huge panoramic image “DIE MAUER – das asisi Panorama zum geteilten Berlin”. In the 360° installation room, artist Yadegar Asisi portrays everyday life on both sides of the Wall.
And another museum is dedicated to the divided Berlin. The “Die Mauer I The Wall” museum opened on Leipziger Platz in 2020 displays exhibits such as uniforms, newspaper cuttings, firearms, badges and old telephone and communication equipment.
More: Tracing the Berlin Wall
Berlin's history in an app
If you would like to find out more about the Wall and the divided city, the ABOUT BERLIN App by visitBerlin an inspiring source. The story “Bösebrücke: Brücke in die Freiheit – die Nacht, in der die Mauer fällt” relates the story of a very special night: 9th November, 1989. At that time, the German-German border ran through the middle of the bridge. The history of the Hotel Adlon is also moving. The story “Hotel Adlon: Grand-Hotel im Abseits der Berliner Mauer” traces the decay of the magnificent building. Audio and video material bring both stories to life.
Explore even more Berlin Stories
Listen to Berlin's history
The podcast “Berlin Unboxed” from visitBerlin offers new perspectives on the city. In episode 7 “Berlin Unboxed – Der Sound der Freiheit mit Mark Reeder”, the British musician and Berliner-by-choice talks about the music scene and club culture of the 1980s, punk rock in the GDR and East and West Berlin. And about why Berlin's music scene stands for the sound of freedom.
You can find images on our website in the Download section and for current press releases, press here. Our visitBerlin blog provides even more inspiration. Please contact us if you have any questions.