Along The Wall

Let Annabelle Mal­lia be your guide along the Ber­lin Wall Trail with a bike ride ex­plor­ing the city’s dra­matic his­tory.

Where Berlin - - SIGHTSEEING -

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.fat­tire­bike­ 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”

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