Berlin - East Side Gallery

written on 17/10/2020
by Friedhelm Schulz

Position & Weblink

Berlin is THE touristic hotspot in Germany, approx. 14 million visitors came to the city in 2019. Despite of the attractiveness as capital, the metropolis may to cater for all tastes – see travel informations below.

The fascination of the peaceful revolution 1989 as well as the shiver of the visible division of Germany – the iron curtain in a concrete form – are united at the East side Gallery. 

Unfortunately the Gallery is continuously attacked by the unreflective behaviour of regrowing generations – as to see for everybody. Luckily some engaged groups care to maintain this piece of creativity. 

Travel – at a glance

Best period: whole year | General Info:

Despite of the official tips and guided tours, the author recommend for the individual visitor some references abroad of the mainstream:

To discover the main attractions in the historical centre, you may use the public bus 100. This line is commuting between the two central points of “Alex” and “Zoo”, passing the most relevant points and buildings.

The Berlin Welcome Card grants free use of public transport and free or discounted entrance to many attractions.

A better way to slow down, to relax and to discover the centre is to enter a Rikscha. But there are so many rivalry companies, that the author will not recommend a single one: You may enter everywhere you see one and ask for every direction – don´t forget to ask for a price before start.

The drivers will play “guide” too and explain the monuments, buildings and construction yards.

The above photo was made at the Nikolai Quarter – the oldest settled part of Berlin, completely destroyed in WWII and reconstructed for the 750-years anniversary 1987.

Today it is something like a “historic centre in a contemporary clothing”, favoured for the little craftsmanship shops and the gastronomy.

Once here, it is strongly recommended by the author to visit the “Zillemuseum”. Heinrich Zille, folksy called “Pinselheinrich” was the painter of the poor and of the reality, loved by the population but shunned by the ruling aristocrats of his period.

A more contemporary flair and a certain reminiscence to the “golden twenties” the visitor may find at the “Hackesche Höfe” (use the line “Navigation” below that website to find out more). Best way to reach with suburban or tramway to “Hackescher Markt”.

Just a few steps away, walking the “Oranienburger” in direction to “Friedrichstrasse” with the famous Checkpoint Charlie, one of the most beautiful buildings of Berlin is open for friendly & interested visitors:

The New Synagogue, built by the leading architects of their time in a Moorish Style. Once the biggest in Germany with 3200 seats, it was set to fire by the SA at 09. November 1938 but a local police officer could organise the firefighting operations and save the building.

Partial destroyed in the following war bombings, it is today a centre of Jewish culture administrated by a foundation. After a visit of the exhibition, the ascent into the cupola grants interesting views.

Of course most visitors are interested to enjoy the airview from the observation deck of the TV-Tower at the centre – folksy called “Telespargel”. In case of clear weather conditions it is spectacular.

For tickets it is good to know: choosing “tickets & prices” on the first visible line - see screenshot here - shows only what are the costs. Buying them at the entrance will implicate some time for waiting at desk and elevators.

Scrolling down till this is to see like below – here to purchase online and with guaranteed reservation but increased price, no codes or exceptional waiting time for the granted timeslot, but you need a particular app to store the tickets online on a mobile device.

For those more sportive, the French Dome offers for a little price the best panoramic platform in the midst of Berlin. Recently closed for reconstruction, normally 284 steps grant a 360° panoramic view over the city. Unfortunately closed since many years, without prospect for revival, is the little restaurant on top – well hidden behind a wooden door.

Let´s go abroad from overcrowded centre. Staying at the eastern part, the authentic “New Berlin” is to see at Prenzlauer Berg. Best to explore with a footwalk between the stations Schönhauser Allee and Prenzlauer Allee. Take your time to enjoy a coffee, a smoothie or whatever fantasy-name they gave the liquid you may order.

A more historic route indeed is to find at the former “Stalinallee” between Strausberger Platz and Frankfurter Tor. Here started the first demonstration against the East-German government on 16th of June 1953, which disembogued into the countrywide riots of 17th June 1953.

Today it is a contemporary boulevard but still with the monumental facades similar created by the imperious regimes of two various ideologies.

But just confined to this imperial boulevard the visitor may walk trough the calm roads of Friedrichshain Quarter and reach in a few minute the oldest public park of Berlin, the so-called Volkspark Friedrichshain

It is a curious fact, that the highest hill there was made of 2 million m³ rubbish brought here from the ruins of the war damages. The natives named it “Mont Klamott” and the Berlin band Silly honoured this with a song.

Let´s go more abroad. A very good impression about the dimensions of the metropolis, the visitor  gets by using the tramways or buses to exterior districts. A calm and good counterpoint for example is Köpenick, a quarter affected to water. The administrative district confines to areas like Friedrichshagen, procuring a pleasant small-town-atmosphere.

Here, for example sitting at a small cafe at the Bölschestrasse, somebody may get the feeling sitting at an amply living room, and slow down. More east the city ramifies more and more with the forests and waters, and who is lucky enough to get accomodation at Neu-Venedig (New Venice) will not be aware to live in Germany´s biggest city.

On the other direction, the Grunewald at the western side offers 3000 ha to relax and with his two hills great panoramic views. Near this is recommended a visit of the Bonheoffer-Memorial, which provide some insight to the Christian motivated resistance against fascism and nationalism.

And, last but not least, who is not emphasized of the contemporary Berlin and wants a little bit to dream about the good old times, may visit palace and park Charlottenburg.

For interested in history and arts, it will take probably a whole day, don't expect to pass in one hour. Hidden at the other end of the large park is situated the Belvedere , a small palace with an excellent collection of porcelain arts.

And finally: Eat and drink.

Berlin seems to be the centre of fast food, don't hesitate to try a sausage from the Grill-runners. But for a good meal try to avoid the big restaurants at the touristic hotspots (but the author has good experience with “Gerichtslaube” at Nikolai quarter), there are many good offers at the various districts. Try a “Berliner Weisse mit Schuss” and some of the international restaurants.

Bavarians may ask for culinary Asylum at the Hofbräuhaus-dependance, but please – this is not representative Berlin.

The author beg your pardon that not all weblinks are available in foreign languages, if more detailed information needed please contact the German Semester.