At the height of the Cold War in 1961, socialist East Germany erected the Berlin Wall as an imposing concrete barrier that divided Berlin's eastern and western sides for nearly 30 years. In 1989, toward the end of the war and the fall of East Germany and communism in Europe, the wall's demolition began, thus reunifying Germany. Today, sections of the wall remain as permanent reminders of the days when the country (and Berlin) was divided.
On Bernauer Strasse, the Berlin Wall Memorial is made up of an original section of the wall and a gun turret. Visit the memorial and various portions of the wall on a small-group tour to learn about the area's history among other travelers, or on a private historian-led tour for an in-depth, personalized experience. Bike tours, Segway tours, and walking tours are all great ways to see the wall's various remaining sections spread across the city, as well as Checkpoint Charlie, the infamous border-crossing spot between the two sides.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The Berlin Wall Memorial features a visitor center, where you can get an overview of Berlin wall sites and watch a historical film, plus the Documentation Center with its exhibits and the Chapel of Reconciliation, where prayers services are held.
- The longest and most interesting remaining stretch of the wall is the open-air East Side Gallery, set on Mühlenstrasse featuring murals painted by international artists in 1990 and again in 2009.
- Because Berlin's reunification was so successful, it can be difficult to tell the difference between east and west in many parts of the city. Look for the double row of cobblestones to guide you along certain sections of the wall’s course.
How to Get to the Berlin Wall
The almost 100-mile-long (160-km) Berliner Mauerweg is a multi-use path that runs along the former wall, with 40 multilingual information stations posted along the way. In other parts of the city, lengths of the wall are covered in psychedelic graffiti, like that at the East Side Gallery on Mühlenstrasse. Sections of the wall also remain near the former site of the Gestapo headquarters.
When to Get There
The Berlin Wall Memorial on Bernauer Strasse is open daily from 8am to 10pm. The visitor center is open Tuesday through Sunday from 9:30am until 6 or 7pm, depending on the season. The East Side Gallery is always available to visit, and the Museum Haus am Checkpoint Charlie is open daily from 9am to 10pm.
Berlin Sights Along the Wall
It's ironic that Berlin's most popular attraction, for the most part, no longer exists. Because the Berlin Wall disappears and reappears around the city, you can see several of the German capital's most important landmarks as you visit the wall. Museum Island, Potsdamer Platz, and the Brandenburg Gate can be seen easily on a bicycle tour, weather permitting.