Top 10 Facts about the East Side Gallery
The East Side Gallery is an open-air gallery in Berlin. It is made up of a series of murals painted on part of the remaining Berlin Wall.
This open gallery is a heritage protected landmark. It is a monument that commemorates the fall of the Berlin Wall.
The gallery also represents the peaceful negotiation of borders and conventions between societies and people.
You will find the East Side Gallery in the Friedrichshain district. The painted section of the wall is 1.3 kilometres long.
Artists from over 20 countries took part in the creation of the murals.
Their main aim was to articulate a message of peace and unity after the end of the Cold War.
Let us now look at the top 10 facts about the East Side Gallery.
1. 118 artists from 21 countries decorated the East Side Gallery
After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, 118 artists from 21 countries got to use their artistic skills to decorate the wall.
There are over 100 images that have been painted on the wall celebrating the reunification of Berlin.
The East Side Gallery was given a memorial status a year after the artists finished painting.
There are varied paintings on the wall such as Honecker and Breschnew kissing intimately.
2. It is the largest open-air gallery in the world
The gallery is 1,316 meters long making it one of the longest open-air galleries in the world to date.
There are more than 106 murals on the wall that depict the jubilant celebration that followed the fall of the wall.
In 1991, the images and part of the wall were declared a national monument.
The paintings have however worn out due to changing weather and vandalism by visitors.
A long-term preservation process of the wall was carried out by some of the original artists.
They have also been fighting the threats of new construction projects that would block the wall.
3. Restoration of the art at the East Side gallery is controversial
Weather and other factors have really damaged the murals on the East Side Gallery.
This has led to restoration efforts to save the national and cultural heritage.
The efforts to have some of the paintings re-painted have been met with opposition from the original painters.
Several of the painters refused to repaint their images that were destroyed during the renovation.
They have gone further and defended the copyright of the murals.
4. The kiss between Brezhnev and Honecker by Dmitri Vrubel
This mural is a reproduction of the famous 1979 photograph of the socialist fraternal kiss between Brezhnev and Honecker as shot by photographer Régis Bossu.
It is one of the most famous artworks on the Berlin Wall and the East Side Gallery.
Dmitri Vrubel was the artist that painted this famous mural. He painted it after the collapse of the East German regime.
It is a symbol for the fall of the Berlin Wall. The title of this painting is: My God, help me to survive this deadly love.
This fraternal kiss was intended to demonstrate the special solidarity between the socialist states.
5. It is the most visited gallery in Berlin
Over 800,000 people come to the East Side Gallery every year.
The Eastside Gallery is conveniently located on Mühlenstraße in Friedrichshain making it a tourist magnet.
Many come to not only admire the beautiful art but also to witness the constant reminder of Berlin’s past.
The gallery was an invention of two artist associations that merged, VBK and BBK.
6. There are more than 150 paintings on the East Side Gallery
The Gallery has 105 paintings by artists from all over the world who took up the task in 1990.
River Spree served as the border between the East Side and the West Side.
These paintings document the time of change, elation and hope for a better future for Berliners.
7. Part of the wall was taken down
Over the years, development along River Spree has boomed threatening to outshine this historical landmark.
A section of the wall was even scheduled to be removed in 2013 to make way for luxury apartments.
Fortunately, the demolition of the wall did not happen due to the involvement of protesters.
The gallery was then transferred to the Berlin Wall foundation that runs several sites and museums in the city.
8. The artwork on the wall varies in style and symbolism
The artwork on the wall is varied in style and symbolism.
One artist that took part in painting the murals is Dimitri Vrubel from Russia.
He is the artist behind the famous painting of Leonid Brezhnev and Erich Honecker kissing.
The Wall Jumper is another famous mural, it was designed by Gabriel Heimler in 1989 and was restored in 2009.
It depicts a man jumping over the Berlin Wall to leave East Berlin and reach West Berlin. He was fleeing from dictatorship to join the free world.
9. There are bus tours to the East Side Gallery
For a more curated and best experience, you could opt to be part of the bus tour team.
The guides on this tour give detailed history and story behind every painting on this gallery that stretches for 1.3 kilometres.
10. The East Side Gallery is free to visit
The East Side Gallery is free to visit and open to all.
One of the best ways to experience it is by simply walking along the wall while taking the time to admire the paintings and take pictures.
The best location to start from is from the southern end. Drop by the Wall Museum to check out the historical exhibits.
If walking is strenuous, you can take a bus or a bicycle tour of the wall.
These tours have local guides that explain intricate details of the murals.