The East Side Gallery

Thierry Noir heads

Looking at this, you could be forgiven for thinking that it was West Berlin in the 1980s. The wall became famous for the graffiti that covered the western side - including things like these heads by Thierry Noir, which you'll often see on postcards and other pictures from the time (he's briefly shown painting the wall in Wim Wenders's film Wings of Desire too).

This, however, is not the western side but the eastern side - the East Side Gallery to be precise! A group of artists painted this section of wall - the longest still standing, at 1.3km/0.8mi - in 1990. It's remained ever since and has just been repainted - not without some controversy, though, as some artists weren't happy with the idea of it being erased and them having to start again. It was getting very flaky and - perhaps ironically - graffiti strewn, though, so I don't really blame them for wanting to restore it.

Some of the artists are still at work. This is Italian artist Fulvio Pinna:

Fulvio Pinna at work

With all the tourists flocking round to take a look, it felt a bit like a zoo.

Fulvio Pinna behind bars!

Someone even offered him a banana...

The first time I came to the East Side Gallery, in December 2001, there was barely anyone walking along this stretch of road at all. That certainly wasn't the case today though - it was positively crawling with tourists and news journalists.

Tourists at the East Side Gallery

As you'll know already, I'm not a big fan of anywhere that has too many tourists per square metre and this was definitely way over my threshold, so it was time to get going. On the way towards Ostbahnhof, I saw something which made me think of the GDR...

A banana

This is definitely not a scene you'd have come across in the days before the wall fell. Bananas (and other 'Südfrüchte' - southern, that is, tropical fruits) were scarce and I doubt anyone would have valued them so little as to leave them lying by the road. Even if someone didn't want something, they'd often realise that it had a value as something to trade - some people talk of joining queues outside shops long before they found out what it was they were queueing for, because they knew that it must be something desirable which, at the very least, could be traded for something desirable which they actually wanted.

I didn't much fancy my chances of trading these bananas for anything useful though (especially if I'd said I'd found them by the road), so I left them for the next person...perhaps someone will try feeding them to Fulvio Pinna.

Warschauer Straße (U1)
Warschauer Straße (S3, S5, S7, S75)
Ostbahnhof (S3, S5, S7, S75)
The East Side Gallery
10243 Berlin

Follow @journeytoberlin on Twitter!

  • I feel like the uniqueness and sheer technical achievement of Manfred Prasser's Großer Saal in the Palast der Repub… 1 month 4 weeks ago
  • Fantastic picture thread here! 2 months 3 weeks ago
  • Really interesting relic from the past that's resurfaced in the on Alexanderplatz - my best guess is that… 3 months 6 days ago
  • Children overheard on the tram: "Isst du Schmetterlinge?" "Ja...aber nur zu Weihnachten." I guess new traditions ha… 4 months 4 weeks ago
  • After an impressive aerobatics display in the skies over Mitte, this crow stopped by to say Frohe Weihnachten to ev… 5 months 6 hours ago
  • Yes! The Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche has a double wall for soundproofing, the two layers of stained glass are l… 5 months 6 days ago
  • Who can guess where I am right now? 🙂 5 months 6 days ago
  • Considering the plane reeked of stale turds, I think I can say that 's service today has literally… 5 months 1 week ago
  • Taking of gliders, Otto Lilienthal's Fliegerberg is an interesting piece of Berlin aviation history that you can st… 5 months 1 week ago
  • Should I take advantage of being unburdened and take all the copies of the hate rags that give out… 5 months 1 week ago