2019 is a particularly good time to visit the various remnants of the city’s historic borderline as this year represents the 30th anniversary of the end of the Berlin Wall.
On November 9, 1989, a spokesman of the Communist Party announced that newly- adopted travel regulations allowed East Germans to go anywhere; this marked the end of the separation of East and West Berlin, which had been enforced for 28 years. The concrete barrier immediately started to come down – at first informally, as citizens demolished sections of it and took souvenirs, then formally in June 1990. Most of it has since vanished, of course, but a few pieces remain which commemorate the border.
This anniversary year is the perfect opportunity to track the remains of the “Berliner Mauer”. Checkpoint Charlie on Friedrichstrasse was the largest official border crossing by car or by foot. The old warning signage has been kept although the place now has a “Disneyland” look with its popular tourist attractions. More interesting, however, is a series of panels telling the story of Berlin’s division. Next to Checkpoint Charlie also stands the Asisi Panorama. Turkish artist Yadegar Asisi painted a 360o artwork of the Berlin Wall in the early 1980s. This is the closest impression of the way West Berlin used to look along its dreary border.
By following the Wall Path – a mark on the ground tracing the former demarcation line – a large piece of wall is still visible next to the former Gestapo headquarters. You can then take the S-Bahn train at the nearby station Anhalter Bahnhof and go out at Nordbahnhof – stations along the ride were also part of the wall and not accessible except at Friedrichstrasse. Nordbahnhof station stands next to the Berlin Wall Memorial. Set up along Bernauer Strasse – formerly No Man’s Land – the memorial shows the wall as it was in the early 1980s. A preserved documentation centre complements the visit.
On the way back, stop at the former Tränenpalast next to Friedrichstrasse station. The place used to be the rail border crossing for passengers going to West Berlin – giving it the nickname “Palace Of Tears”. It contains a faithful reproduction of the border control area. Then a colourful way to finish the cultural and historical tour is to end up at the East Side Gallery (next to Ostbahnhof station) – 1.3km of the wall remains and, covered in over 100 individual pieces of street art, it is the longest open-air art gallery in the world.