Along The Wall
Let Annabelle Mallia be your guide along the Berlin Wall Trail with a bike ride exploring the city’s dramatic history.
With over half a million cyclists and more than 620km of bike paths, Berlin is best seen on two wheels, and along the Berlin Wall Trail you can soak up the city’s past and present at the same time. Following the course of the former border between East and West Germany along a wall erected on 13 August, 1961 that stood for almost 30 years, the trail stretches a lengthy 160km. But for those feeling less ambitious, we’ll stick to a 15km route through the center.
First things first: you’ll need to get yourself a bike. There’s no shortage of rental places around, and you can get equipped for €7-12 per day. Next, jump on the S-Bahn (but don’t forget to buy a Fahrradkarte, or bike ticket). Our starting point is at Bornholmer Straße and the Bösebrücke bridge, the first border crossing to be opened to GDR citizens on 9 November, 1989. Passing along Norwegerstraße and Schwedterstraße will bring you to Mauerpark, where a section of the so- called “death strip” has been transformed into a vibrant city park with a children’s farm, playground, and Sunday flea market.
A sharp turn right onto Bernauer Straße puts you in front of West Berlin’s tallest “spectators’ gallery,” where visitors could look over the Wall and wave to their Eastern counterparts. Today, the grounds of the Berlin Wall Memorial begin here, documenting the moving history of escape attempts and featuring the last intact section of the Wall preserved at its full height.
Continuing along will eventually take you to Potsdamer Platz, where you can get your passport stamped as West Berliners crossing the border did. It’s easy to visualize the former border situation on Niederkirchnerstraße and Zimmerstraße, where a roughly 200m section of the original Wall has been preserved on the grounds of the Topography of Terror. The open-air gallery located at the former Checkpoint Charlie border crossing used by foreign nationals also makes a fascinating pit stop. Finally, crossing the Schillingbrücke bridge takes you to the East Side Gallery, the longest section of the Wall still standing, where artists from all over the world have painted political murals.
If you prefer a guided tour, a similar route with Fat Tire Bike Tours (www.fattirebiketours.com) costs €19 per person and delves deep into the political and cultural history of divided Berlin.
“A section of the so- called ‘death strip’ is now a vibrant city park”