Tours from 1st of April till 31st of October 2013
15 km, 3.5 hours
Tue, Thu, Sat at 11am
€14 + €5 for bike-hire
In winter season, tours in English on request, please contact us.
THE BERLIN WALL TOUR
All along the Wall!
For 29 years the Berlin Wall zigzagged its way around the island of West Berlin. It was a four-meter-high monstrosity made of massive concrete slabs crowned with the characteristic concrete piping that prevented potential climbers from getting a hold.
The East side of the wall was flanked by the so-called “death strip”: a raked area, 20 to 30 meters wide, with barbed wire, watch dogs, flood lights and watch towers. A smaller wall separated this hostile no-man’s land from the East Berlin city area.
Seven border crossings enabled different categories of visitor – West Berliners, West Germans, foreigners and diplomats – to cross into East Germany. In the other direction, only pensioners and those few with special permission were allowed to enter West Berlin.
The Wall was forced down following the peaceful demonstrations that broke out through East Germany between summer and fall of 1989. Although only a few hundred meters of wall and three watchtowers remain, traces of the city’s division are still visible in many places.
Until the wall came down in 1989, the Wall ran directly behind the Friedrich Ludwig Jahn Sport Park. This former “death strip” has been turned to a park with grass and wild heather. It’s now called Mauer Park (Wall Park) and is very popular with the inhabitants of the neighboring areas of Prenzlauer Berg (former East) and Wedding (former West). In the background loom the floodlights of the sports stadium.
To make room for the “death strip”, a whole row of houses was torn down on Bernauer Street. On this street, East Germans had been jumping out of their apartment windows into the West. The inner city’s scars are still healing, more than 20 years after Reunification.
The West side of the Wall was covered in colourful graffiti and murals. After Reunification the “Wall-peckers” came with hammers and chisels. Everyone wanted to take a colourful bit of Wall home with them. This part of the original Wall has survived the souvenir hunters.
The East Berlin district of Mitte protruded like a nose into West Berlin territory.
Two of West Berlin’s underground train-lines and one above-ground train-line crossed beneath this area. The trains rolled through these dim ghost stations whose above-ground entrances, like this one at Nordbahnhof, had been walled up.
A rabbit was run over on the former border crossing on Chausee Street. These metal animals (above) were placed in the asphalt on the now busy street in memory of the 28 years in which they were the only ones who could hop freely back and forth over the border (below).
The new era has dawned quickly around the old watch-tower. The tower is now protected as a historical building and houses a Memorial.
Jürgen Litfin, whose brother was the first person to be shot trying to escape in 1961, here explains the deadly Wall installations to a group of visitors.
Brandenburg Gate stood in the middle of No Man’s Land. The badly damaged buildings surrounding it had been removed completely and the whole area was made inaccessible. On the 9th of November in 1989, German citizens from both sides of the divide got their gate back.
In the shadows of the new Potsdamer Platz skyline you can see one of the surviving watchtowers. If it will stay there is unclear since the ground it is on is proving interesting for property developers.
This fragile piece of the original Wall near Potsdamer Platz has to be protected from souvenir hunters by a steel fence.
At Checkpoint Charlie you can purchase all kinds of paraphernalia from the Cold War. Strangely, pieces of the original Wall are in unlimited supply. The border crossing of Checkpoint Charlie was reserved for foreigners and diplomats. Here is where American and Russian tanks stood face to face during the most dramatic phase of the Cold War that almost ignited a new World War.