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From Potsdamer Platz to Warschauer Strasse

This seven-kilometer route starts in the heart of the “new” Berlin, where the two halves of the formerly divided city have grown together. Although a number of Wall remains (among other places, on the ground floor of the Federal Ministry for the Environment on Stresemannstrasse), a temporary exhibition, Berlin Wall History Mile info boards, and a watchtower(Externer Link) (hidden behind new buildings) used by GDR border guards recall the years of division, Potsdamer Platz is marked more by 1990s visions of a new era dawning. It is much easier to visualize the former border situation on Niederkirchnerstrasse and Zimmerstrasse, where a roughly 200-meter section of the original Wall has been preserved on the grounds of the Topography of Terror (Topographie des Terrors). Here the double row of cobblestones marking the former course of the Wall also makes it clear where the outer wall (“Vorderlandmauer” – the Wall closest to West Berlin) once stood. Souvenir hunters are responsible for the fragile condition of the Wall’s remaining sections: in 1989/1990, they used hammers, chisels, and electric tools to help destroy the hated bulwark. An exhibition on the Stasi, the GDR’s State Security Service, can be seen at the Educational Center on the History of the Stasi (BStU) at Zimmerstrasse 90, which also has an interesting project workshop for school groups.
The Checkpoint Gallery, located at the former Friedrichstrasse/Checkpoint Charlie border crossing used by foreign nationals, makes a fascinating stop along the way. Large-format photos tell the story of this border crossing, while the “Black Box” exhibition on the Cold War uses many different media stations to explore the international dimension of German and European division. The Museum Haus am Checkpoint Charlie – a private museum dedicated to the Wall – can also be found here.
Following the course of the Wall on Zimmerstrasse will then take you to the memorial for Peter Fechter. On 17 August 1962, 18-year-old Peter Fechter and a friend had attempted to escape to West Berlin. The friend made it across the Wall, while Peter Fechter was shot. He lay on the border strip bleeding to death for almost an hour before being carried away by GDR border guards. Today a stele designed by the artist Karl Biedermann recalls Fechter’s tragic death. After passing the Axel-Springer-Verlag building, you will come to the former Heinrich-Heine-Strasse border crossing, a checkpoint for goods and postal transport between East and West Berlin. Following Sebastianstrasse and Waldemarstrasse will take you to the pond Engelbecken and the former Luisenstädtischer Kanal. “Osman’s gecekondu” near the church Thomaskirche, a summer house built illegally on a triangular piece of East Berlin that would have been too expensive to wall off, tells a story of life in West Berlin in the shadow of the border.
Crossing the bridge Schillingbrücke takes you to Holzmarktstrasse and Mühlenstrasse and the longest section of the Wall still standing in Berlin’s city center. Here the inner wall (“Hinterlandmauer” – the wall furthest from the West Berlin border) was constructed of the neutral white concrete sections used elsewhere for the outer wall (“Vorderlandmauer”), since official convoys bringing state visitors from Schönefeld Airport to East Berlin’s city center took this route. In 1990, artists from all over the world decorated this remaining 1.3-kilometer section of the Wall with striking, eye-catching paintings. The artists’ initiative East Side Gallery e.V. now offers tours of the exhibition. In 2009, this section of the Wall was completely restored for the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Wall, and 100 of the original 106 paintings were reconstructed by the artists.

About the route: Although this city-center tour from Potsdamer Platz to Warschauer Brücke is only seven kilometers long, you should give yourself enough time to also see the route’s many memorials and other sites. The route is easy to follow here. Parallel to the former Luisenstädtischer Kanal between Engelbecken and the bridge Schillingbrücke, on Stralauer Platz, and parallel to Mühlenstrasse, the bike path now exists on both sides of the green space corridors or streets. The remains and traces of the Wall here make the southern/southwestern path the most interesting one. If you would like to end your tour early, there are many different stops along the way where you can easily switch to public transportation.

Berlin House of Representatives

Berlin House of Representatives

In 1993, Berlin’s House of Representatives (Abgeordnetenhaus von Berlin) moved into the former home of the Prussian Landtag (state parliament), which was built by Friedrich Schulze from 1892 to 1897. The second chamber of the Prussian Abgeordnetenhaus met here until 1918, and in 1933 the parliament elected under the Weimar Constitution met here for the last time. During the years of division, the building was first the seat of the GDR government, and then the seat of the State Planning Commission and a Ministry of State Security (Stasi) listening post. … more »

Martin Gropius Bau

Martin Gropius Bau

The Museum of Applied Art (Kunstgewerbemuseum) was designed by Martin Gropius and Heino Schmieden in the style of the Italian High Renaissance and built from 1877 to 1881. Severely damaged in World War II, the building was not restored until 1977 to 1981 (by Kampmann and Westström). Since then, the building has hosted changing exhibitions. … more »

Topography of Terror

Topography of Terror

Today a permanent exhibition informs visitors about key institutions involved in Nazi terror and persecution at this historical site. … more »

Communication Museum

Communication Museum

The Reich Post Office designed and built by Carl Schwatlo from 1872 to 1874 is today the home of the Communication Museum (Museum für Kommunikation). Its permanent exhibition looks at the postal system, telecommunications, and information technology in the past, present, and future. Visitors are greeted in the lobby by three robots, can explore interactive, multimedia exhibits, and see treasures like the first telephone or the rare stamp “Blue Penny” in a special room. … more »

Tempodrom

Tempodrom

The new Tempodrom, an event venue with two arenas for 3,700 and 500 spectators, was built on the grounds of the Anhalter train station from 2000 to 2001 according to plans by Meinhard von Gerkan. The tent-shaped, 38-meter-high, pointed roof of this concrete building recalls the original Tempodrom, a 1980s institution for fans of alternative music and theater that was housed in a circus tent on the meander of the Spree. … more »

Märkisches Museum

Märkisches Museum

After 12 years of construction, the Märkisches Museum Association was able to move into its new home in 1908. Architect Ludwig Hoffmann’s building complex incorporates references to Brick Gothic and Renaissance buildings from Mark Brandenburg. Marked by a striking brick tower, the Märkisches Museum shows cultural historical collections related to Brandenburg and Berlin history. … more »

St. Thomas-Kirche

St. Thomas-Kirche

Designed by Friedrich Adler, the Protestant church St. Thomas-Kirche was built from 1864 to 1869 in the Luisenstadt district. It is considered the most important example of Schinkel-style religious architecture and is one of Berlin’s largest churches. Its distinguishing architectural features are its twin-towered entrance, its round main room, and its brick dome. The division of Berlin also ended up dividing the congregation of this church. … more(Externer Link) »