East Side Gallery is anything but a traditional gallery, and is a 1.3 kilometre explosion of art along the most significant surviving length of the Berlin Wall. This makes East Side Gallery the longest open-air gallery, not just in Germany, but the world.
In 1989 when the Berlin Wall fell and people rejoiced in freedom and a unified Germany, a collective of 118 artists from 21 countries turned this grey concrete stretch on the East German side of the Wall into a Kunstmeile (art mile). The art on the wall is a public expression of their feelings about the political events of 1989 and 1990, resulting in a bohemian patchwork of surreal imagery, political statements and graffiti-esque effusions that have been captivating visitors ever since.
Given the ephemeral nature of East Side Gallery, it's hardly surprising that many works have weathered and been vandalised across the years. One-third of the works were controversially restored during the past decade or so with the original artists returning to repaint them.
Among some of the best-known works are Dmitri Vrubel’s My God, Help Me to Survive This Deadly Love, a depiction of Erich Honecker and Leonid Brezhnev in a mouth-to-mouth embrace; and Birgit Kinder’s Test the Best that shows an East German Trabant car crashing through the Wall. There's even a space for visitors to make their own contribution to East Side Gallery and become a piece of living history in the process.
While East Side Gallery has no admission fee and you can see it any time of the day or night, it's recommended to take a tour and experience the artwork through the eyes of professional insiders from the Artists Initiative of the East Side Gallery. Otherwise, absorb its mixed bag of artistic expression and provocation at your leisure – and don’t forget your camera.