The Berlin Wall


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Little remains of the infamous Berlin Wall that once divided the city, separating East and West, but it will long be a part of Berlin. After World War II, Germany was divided into four sectors controlled by France, Britain, America and the Soviet Union. The capital city of Berlin, entirely within the Soviet sector, was similarly divided into four sectors. A decade after closing the inner German border between East and West Germany, East Germany in 1961 closed the border between East and West Berlin. Over several decades, they built the 100-mile-long (160 km) Berlin Wall to completely surrounded West Berlin and prevent the flow of people defecting from the East.

On the first day of a three-night trip to Berlin, we visited Checkpoint Charlie and the East Side Gallery, and also took in some fabulous street art nearby at Urban Spree. Checkpoint Charlie was a border-crossing between the American sector in West Berlin and the Soviet sector in East Berlin. It became the best-known crossing between East and West, and was where Soviet and American tanks had a tense stand-off in mid-1961. The 4,250ft (1,300m) East Side Gallery is the longest remaining section of the Berlin Wall. A few days after the wall came down in 1989, artists descended on Berlin from all over the world and painted murals on the wall there as a celebration of the end of Germany’s division and a reminder of the tyranny of the East German border regime.

Below are trip highlights from Jan 25th, 2020 in Berlin. Click any image for a larger view, or click the position to view the location on a map. And a live map of our current route and most recent log entries always is available at mvdirona.com/maps.

1/24/2020
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Spitfire
Het Catshuys is coming to pick up Spitfire for boarding while we’re travelling. It’s always sad to see him go, but he’s in very good hands.
1/25/2020
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Amsterdam Centraal
At Amsterdam Centraal train station just before 6am to take a train to Schiphol Airport for a flight to Berlin.
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TV Shipping
We’re not the only ones to ship a Samsung 55-inch TV by air. We saw this one at the airport in Berlin.
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Kurt-Schumacher-Platz
At the Kurt-Schumacher-Platz metro station in Berlin. We took a short bus ride here from the airport and will take the metro to our hotel.
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NH Friedrichstrasse Berlin
A top floor corner room at the NH Friedrichstrasse Berlin. The location was excellent, right at Berlin Friedrichstrasse station, and the room was fabulous.
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Friedrichstrasse Station
Friedrichstrasse Station adjacent to our hotel in Berlin.
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Children’s Transport Memorial
Trains to Life — Trains to Death is a memorial to the children’s transports during World War II. The five children in gray facing the camera symbolize the suffering of those deported to concentration camps while the lighter bronze figures facing away represent the children saved in the Kindertransport to England. More more than two million children lost their lives due to the Nazi regime, and the Kindertransport saved roughly 10,000.
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Tranenpalast
During the Cold War, Friedrichstrasse Station was entirely within East Berlin. Tranenpalast was a border crossing between East and West Berlin used heavily by western residents travelling to East Germany to visit friends and relatives who were not allowed to cross into the west. The border crossing name means means “Palace of Tears”, referring to the tearful farewells in front of the station when the westerners departed back home. The station is now a museum with exhibits on the Cold War and showing how travellers passed between East and West Germany.
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Checkpoint Charlie
After World War II, Germany was divided into four sectors controlled by France, Britain, America and the Soviet Union. The capital city of Berlin, entirely within the Soviet sector, was similarly divided into four sectors and Checkpoint Charlie was a border crossing between the American and Soviet sectors within Berlin.

The inner German border East and West Germany was officially closed in 1952, but the border between East and West in Berlin remained open. In 1961, East Germany closed the border between the sectors and built the Berlin Wall surrounding West Berlin to prevent the flow of people escaping to the West. Checkpoint Charlie became the best-known border crossing between East and West and was where Soviet and American tanks had a stand-off in mid-1961.

Pictured is a replica of the original checkpoint building that was removed in 1990 after the Berlin Wall was taken down in 1989, with a photo of a Soviet soldier in the background.

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American Sector
A replica of the famous sign at Checkpoint Charlie indicating that the traveller was leaving the American sector for East Berlin and East Germany.
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Berlin Wall
An original section of the Berlin Wall at an outdoor exhibit near Checkpoint Charlie. The wall was built with a wide footing on the eastern side so a vehicle could not easily knock it over, and with a round tube on top to make it more difficult for a climber to grab onto the top of the wall.
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1964
A photo of the original Checkpoint Charlie, taken in 1964.
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McDonald’s
We got a giggle out of the signs on the door of the McDonald’s near Checkpoint Charlie: “You are now entering the American Sector”.
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Parallel Parking
Parallel parking is hard the world over. But we saw some particularly nice examples in Berlin.
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Open Berlin Mobile
OpenBerlin is an urban development project to “return the city to a common good approach to public land”.
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Jewish Museum
The striking deconstructivist-style building by Polish-American architect Daniel Libeskind. It is one of three buildings in the Jewish Museum Berlin, the largest Jewish museum in Europe.
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Street Art
Berlin is full of street art. We spotted this example perched on the elevated railway line at Gitschiner and Lindenstrasse.
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Marie Juchacz
Monument to German social reformer Marie Juchacz.
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Hallesches Tor
At the elevated railway station Hallesches Tor in Berlin, originally built in 1901, to take a train to the East Side Gallery.
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Postamt 61
View to historic Postamt (“post office”) 61 from Hallesches Tor. Built in 1902, it was used as a post office until the 1990s.
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BASF
The striking European Shared Service Center in Berlin of German chemical company BASF, the second largest chemical company in the world.
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Warschauer Strasse station
Over 85,000 passengers annually flow through Berlin’s Warschauer Strasse station.
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Urban Spree
At the Urban Spree Street Art Gallery to take in some of Berlin’s fabulous street art. The art space covers about 2,000 yards sq (1,700 m sq) and is full of artist’s studios and quirky establishments, with amazing murals everywhere.
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Urban Spree 2
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Urban Spree 3
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Teledisko
The Teledisko, “the smallest disco in the world”, at Urban Spree in Berlin. For 2 Euros, you choose a song and dance inside as long as the music plays. Songs were constantly playing while we were there—it’s surprisingly popular.
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Urban Spree 4
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Urban Spree 5
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Peter Pane
Having a drink, and warming up, at Peter Pane in Berlin’s recently-opened East Side Mall opposite Warschauer Strasse station.
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Oberbaum Bridge
The Oberbaum Bridge, one of Berlin’s landmarks, was built in 1896. The towers are a symbolic reminder that this site was once the river gate into Berlin. We rode across the bridge to the end of the line at Warschauer Strasse station. When the Berlin Wall was erected, the bridge was part of the border between East and West and much of the bridge was demolished. It was rebuilt and restored in 1992 following the fall of the wall.
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East Side Gallery
The East Side Gallery is an open-air gallery of murals painted along the longest preserved 4,250ft (1,300m) section of the Berlin Wall. The gallery was painted a few days after the wall fell in 1989 as a celebration of the end of Germany’s division and a reminder of the tyranny of the East German border regime.
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East Side Gallery 2
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East Side Gallery 3
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Construction
Looking east across the East Side Gallery to new construction on the other side. As part of the wall’s construction, a wide strip of land directly to the east was cleared and filled with anti-vehicle trenches and other defenses. Known as the “death strip,” the area offered no cover and gave the border guards a clear field of view. These areas now are being redevloped with modern buildings.
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Mercedes-Benz
Mercedes-Benz has a large complex opposite the East Side Gallery in the former “death strip” along the east side of the Berlin Wall.
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Pipes
These blue pipes look like temporary municipal water distribution pipes. It wasn’t clear to us why they weren’t below-ground.
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Skating Rink
Outdoor skating rink below Mercedes-Benz Arena. The complex seats about 17,000 and is home to the Eisbaren Berlin ice hockey club and the Alba Berlin basketball team.
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Berlin Wall Museum
At the excellent Berlin Wall Museum near the East Side Gallery. The museum had detailed coverage of the various political aspects leading up to the creation of the wall and its fall.
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The Wall Concert
The final display in the Berlin Wall Museum covered The Wall — Live in Berlin, a benefit concert conceived by Roger Waters of Pink Floyd. The concert was held in Berlin eight months after the fall of the wall and drew a sell-out crowd of 350,000 people. Part of the concert set included a massive cardboard brick wall that measured 550 feet (170 m) long and 82 feet (25 m) high and was brought crashing down at the end of the show in a dramatic representation of the Berlin Wall falling. The concert was held near Potsdamer Platz, symbolically in the “death strip” on the east side of the Berlin Wall.
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BASF at Night
The BASF build ling we saw earlier lit up at night. The glass cube is perched atop an old incandescent lamps manufacturing plant and the LED lights are meant as a reminder of that past, in an energy-saving way.
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Santa Cantina
A delicious meal at Santa Cantina near Urban Spree.
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Urban Spree at Night
After dinner we walked back through Urban Spree to check out the area at night.
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Urban Spree 6
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Urban Spree 7
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Trains
At Warschauer Strasse station to take a train back to our hotel. We’ve been taking full advantage of Berlin’s excellent public transportation system.
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Friedrichstrasse from Terrace
The view to Friedrichstrasse station from our hotel terrace.
Show locations on map Click the travel log icon on the left to see these locations on a map, with the complete log of our cruise.

On the map page, clicking on a camera or text icon will display a picture and/or log entry for that location, and clicking on the smaller icons along the route will display latitude, longitude and other navigation data for that location. And a live map of our current route and most recent log entries always is available at mvdirona.com/maps.

 
 


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