Twenty-five years ago, the Berlin Wall came tumbling down amid shock and glee when the East German government announced the lifting of travel restrictions on November 9, 1989.
Erected almost overnight in 1961, the iconic symbol of the Cold War once divided not just Germany, but the world. After three reinforcements during 28 years, the barricade was finally, and literally, torn down by the people nearly as fast as it went up. Once 87 miles long, today only bits and pieces remain as symbols of freedom, of triumph over oppression.
In 2014, special events and exhibitions will mark the anniversary throughout Berlin. While you should work with your travel professional on a customized itinerary, here are a few things to consider in commemoration of this historic event.
The Berlin Wall Light Installation, November 7-9, 2014
To celebrate a “symbol of hope for a world without walls”, thousands of illuminated helium balloons will run more than seven miles across the center of Berlin, from the former border crossing at Bernauer Strasse through Mauerpark, then near the River Spree and the Reichstag, Brandenburg Gate, Potsdamer Platz and Checkpoint Charlie.
At five spots, white balloons will be released to commemorate the fall of the Berlin Wall. If the weather cooperates, the light installation will be visible from outer space.
Berlin Wall Memorial
For a deeper understanding of the divided city of Berlin and a chronicle of the Cold War period, visit the Berlin Wall Memorial and Documentation Centre.
Learn about the Wall’s construction, impact and dramatic events. Evocative indoor and outdoor displays include historical films, original documents and news from the period. From the watchtower, you can see preserved parts of the border facility and a memorial to victims.
East Side Gallery
The East Side Gallery is one of the few remaining sections of the Berlin Wall left standing.
Located near the center of Berlin on Muhlenstrasse, the open-air gallery is nearly a mile long and consists of 105 paintings from artists around the world. While parts of the mural have been marred by graffiti, the art remains a fascinating, colorful and moving international memorial to freedom.
Walk the Wall
Follow the double cobblestone rows throughout Berlin to trace the path of the Wall, designated periodically by copper plates “Berliner Mauer 1961-1989” (mauer is the German word for wall). See the Brandenburg Gate, the Holocaust Memorial, the Topography of Terror, Checkpoint Charlie and more.
The cobblestones are not continuous as the “infamous death strip” has now been replaced by modern high-rises and multiplexes, so you will need a map or, better yet, a Mauerguide, which is a handheld map with GPS, audio and video.