The Berlin Wall and the division of the city

  • 5 days
  • Spring
  • Summer
  • General public
  • Culture / Heritage
  • Medium

A symbol of the Cold War, the Berlin Wall has remained intact in some parts of the capital and has become an essential tourist attraction. These 5 days of visit will immerse you in the lives of Berlin's inhabitants, divided between West and East for almost three decades.

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28 th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

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Details of the stay: The Berlin Wall and the division of the city - 5 days

Day 1 : The Wall

The tour starts at Bernauerstraße, between Ackerstraße and Bergstraße (U-Bahn 5: Bernauerstraße) where a piece of Wall is classified as a historical monument. A memorial was inaugurated there in 1998. Next to it is the Chapel of Reconciliation, built on the site of the Church of Reconciliation, which was destroyed by border troops in 1985. Opposite is the documentation centre on the Wall (free entrance). Feel free to climb the steps of the observation tower of this institution: a raised platform shows that the Berlin Wall actually consisted of two walls: a "protection wall" on the east side doubled the Berlin Wall, with, between the two buildings, an area permanently mined and patrolled by the formidable border police. Then visit Mauerpark, on Eberswalder Straße, a very popular park where the unmissable Berlin Sunday meeting is held, a giant Flohmarkt (flea market). Now very much alive, it was once a no man's land that ran alongside the Wall. Then go to the East Side Gallery, on Mühlenstraße (S-/U-Bahn: Warschauer Straße or Ostbahnhof) where more than one kilometre of the Wall is located, illustrated by international artists during the reunification, at the invitation of the new German government. Visit the viewpoint on Schlesische Straße, near the Landwehrkanal (U-Bahn Schlesische Tor). Then go down to the S-Bahn Marienfelde station to visit the German Refugee Museum in Marienfelde. To close this visit, take a tour of the Liberty Bell, J-F-Kennedy Square (U-Bahn Rathaus Schöneberg) from where JFK launched its famous "Ich bin ein Berliner".

Day 2 : The Wall (bis)

Head for the Wall Museum, called Haus Am Checkpoint Charlie, on Friedrichstraße, at No. 44 (U-Bahn Kochstraße or Stadmitte). After 2 or 3 hours in this museum, you will know everything about the Wall, from its construction to its fall. Explanations in French. On Niederkirchnerstraße are also a few metres from the more unknown Wall. Then admire the Potsdamer Platz, a true emblem of modern architecture in Berlin, where the Sony Center and the Debis Tower, designed by star architect Renzo Piano, stand. Go up to the Brandenburg Gate (Brandenburger Tor), long considered the symbol of the German division. A little further north, not far from the Reichstag, wreaths of flowers litter the ground in commemoration of those killed trying to cross the Wall (a double line of paving stones indicates the location of the Wall). Finish with a visit to the Invalidenfriedhof (Invalides Cemetery), on Scharnhorstraße, perpendicular to Invalidenstraße. This cemetery was once crossed by the Wall and its Todesstreife (death zone).

Day 3 : To the East

Start with the Gethsemanekirche, Stargarden Straße 77, U-Bahn Schönhauser Allee. In this church began resistance to the GDR regime, encouraged by the Protestant clergy, which welcomed opponents of the dictatorship within its walls - which the East German political police were not allowed to violate. A visit to the Hohenschönhausen Memorial on Genslerstraße 66 (tram no. 6 or 7 to Genslerstrasse) is really worth a visit. A former Soviet and GDR prison that housed between 10,000 and 20,000 prisoners between 1945 and 1946, many of whom died in March 1951, this place became one of the headquarters of the Stasi (Ministry of National Security) where many suspects were tortured. Today, the visits (in German and English) are guided by former detainees, whose living testimony is absolutely poignant and hopeful. Finish with the Normannenstraße memorial, the Stasimuseum. Formerly the headquarters of the Stasi, this place is now a centre for research and commemoration of the German resistance, but also a museum of the Stasi. It describes the interrogation methods, the objects (sometimes ridiculous, sometimes frighteningly ingenious) used by political police officers and even the modest office of Stasi leader Erich Mielke.

Day 4 : In the south, the Berlin blockade

Next to the former Tempelhof airport (on U-Bahn Platz der Luftbrücke square) there is a memorial to the air bridge (Luftbrücke) built during the West Berlin blockade (June 1948 to May 1949). This arch is completed by its other half which is located near Frankfurt am Main where it can be seen from the motorway. The Allied Museum (Outpost Cinema, Clayallee 135, U-Bahn Oskar-Helene-Heim), located in the former US Army cinema, tells the story of the role of France, Britain and the United States in the post-war period.

Day 5 : Life under the GDR

Start with two open-air museums of the East Germany regime. First, the (long) Karl-Marx Allee (S-Bahn Schillingsstr.), symbolic avenue of East Berlin. The plan went through its army every year. A small museum is dedicated to the Café Sybille at 24, on the avenue (free entrance). Then walk on the side of the Soviet memorial with its impressive esplanade in Treptow park (Sowjetisches Ehrenmal, S-Bahn Treptower Park). In the afternoon, take a tour at the daily LIFE Museum of the GDR (DDR Museum) at the end of Alexanderplatz at the Karl-Soviet bridge level.

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