The East Side Gallery is one of Berlin's must-visit sights - nearly a mile (1.3km) of the Berlin Wall turned into the world's largest open-air gallery. After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, artists immediately began adorning the east side of the wall, formerly in East Germany, with vivid murals of political statements and peaceful protests.
It is one of the most important places for understanding Berlin's history as a divided city, and the positive, forward-thinking attitude that is carrying Berlin into the future. Spend a few hours exploring the wall's bright murals, slogans and expressions of peace, love and understanding using our guide to the East Side Gallery.
Painted on the side of the longest existing stretch of the Berlin Wall are dozens of works of art of all shapes, colours and sizes. They make up the East Side Gallery. The gallery officially opened on 28 September 1990, after 118 artists from 21 different countries had spent months painting the murals. They range from huge realistic paintings to tiny expressions of love drawn in permanent marker. These are a few of the most iconic and beloved East Side Gallery artworks:
Also known as the 'Fraternal Kiss', this realistic mural by Russian artist Dmitri Vrubel depicts the historic moment in 1979 when Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev and East German President Erich Honecker locked in an embrace at the 30th anniversary of the creation of the German Democratic Republic.
By Kapitel - Own work, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=36759368
Thomas Klingenstein painted this evocative mural to explore his unfulfilled childhood dreams of travelling to Japan from his home in East Germany.
French artist Thierry Noir was the first person to paint the Berlin Wall, having spent the five years before the fall of the wall painting the western side illegally. Now his huge mural of colourful cartoon heads proudly and legally graces the east side.
This huge mural of black and white swirls interlaced with multiple colours is the brainchild of artist Schamil Gimajev, who painted it in 1990 to spread a message of peace and understanding.
German-Iranian painter Kani Alavi's experience of living near Checkpoint Charlie on the day the Berlin Wall came down inspired this haunting mural of faces pouring, mouths agape, over the wall.
How to See the East Side Gallery
The East Side Gallery is free to visit and open to all. The best way to experience it is to simply walk the length of the wall, taking your time to see the many small murals and slogans that decorate it.
You can walk either direction, but the best way is to start at the southern end. First, visit the Wall Museum where exhibits offer historical context to give you a deeper understanding when you get outside and look at the East Side Gallery itself.
You can also sign up for a bicycle tour, which saves your feet and gives you the benefit of a local guide explaining the murals' intricacies.
Where to Eat
The East Side Gallery is across the street from the giant Mercedes-Benz Arena and shiny Verti Music Hall, a venue and shopping destination opened in 2018. There are several restaurants, coffeehouses and bars, here. And the stylish Gallery Rooftop Bar shakes up cocktails to drink on a terrace with a direct view over the East Side Gallery.
About halfway along the East Side Gallery, there's a gap in the wall where East Side Blick, a cafe and bistro overlooking the Spree River, sells coffee, alcoholic drinks and burgers.
The East Side Gallery is open day and night, year-round, so you can visit anytime. There is no huge advantage to visiting at any particular time of year but visiting during the height of summer means the walk can get very hot - there is no shade or escape from the sun. Visiting at night is possible as there are streetlights, but you may not be able to see the murals in great detail.
Get to the southern end of the East Side Gallery by taking the U1 to Schlesisches Tor, then walk five minutes, taking the Oberbaumbrücke bridge over the Spree. You can also take the S-Bahn (lines S5, S7 and S75) or tram number 10 to Warschauer Straße station.
Find somewhere to stay by checking out our hotels in Berlin.