Our last day in Berlin, we took Fionn's mom to the Eastside Gallery. She's an artist, so we figured she'd love the murals painted on old sections of the Berlin Wall. It's another way Berliners have turned ugly history into something positive.
During the Cold War, people in West Berlin drew graffiti on their side of the wall, and when the wall came down, artists joined together to create an international memorial for freedom by painting murals on remaining parts of the wall. The Eastside Gallery is one of the world's largest open air galleries, but it's had its share of problems. Just this year a developer for luxury apartments destroyed part of the wall to begin construction despite protests, and every year the wall is further damaged by weather and vandalism.
I've visited the gallery a lot of the past few years, but I was very shocked at the amount of graffiti on some of these famous murals when we visited last week. In less than two years the wall has really fallen into disrepair and there is a hardly a mural left that hasn't been damaged by irresponsible tourists or vandals. I never understand why people feel the need to deface history like that, especially such an important piece of world history!
Some murals were unrecognizable and some had so much offensive and rude graffiti drawn on them they were completely ruined (another blogger wrote about the vandalism of the famous "Fraternal Kiss" mural over here). It made me so sad. This is one of Berlin's biggest tourist attractions and people are allowed to just destroy it and no one does anything about it. Where's the city government? Where is the personal responsibility? You don't come as a visitor to another city and ruin it!
one of the famous murals completely wrecked by graffiti
Luckily some of the murals were still pretty intact, so the whole trip wasn't ruined. It was just disappointing to see such a change from when we were living in Berlin in 2011.
Despite the vandalism, I love the color and creativity of these murals. Fionn's mom had a blast taking pictures of it all!
My favorite ones are the more political ones (it appeals to my inner history nerd). Especially for a city like Berlin, with its turbulent past and very art heavy present, using art as a kind of healing is very powerful.
When we got to the end, it was a bit surreal seeing how thick the Berlin Wall actually was. A few feet of concrete divided families, a country, and the world. Incredible.
You can find the East Side Gallery on Mühlenstraße, which is easily reached by S-Bahns Ostbahnhof or Warschauerstrasse. Follow the crowds and the signs and you'll easily find it.
Have you visited the Eastside Gallery? Should something be done about the vandalism?