This post presents a pleasant and friendly stroll among four areas filled with street art and a unique Berlin atmosphere. You can choose to visit each of these areas separately and you can choose to dedicate an entire day to them all (5-8 hours), enjoying an experience that is all about inspiration, color, culture and wild photo ops. The four areas are:
The Wall Museum – East Side Gallery
In my opinion, there is no place that is more alternative, cosmopolitan and dynamic than Berlin. In my blogs posts, I offer a glimpse into Berlin’s alternative side, hoping to help you enjoy its fascinating graffiti and street art, created by internationally renowned and less known street artists. I invite you to discover subcultures, get to know the local perspective in this exciting city where underground and liberal cultures unite to create a visual landscape and urban atmosphere unlike any other.
As always, I try to introduce my vibe of the city – the inspiration, colors, ambiance, food and street art that, together, make up the city’s DNA.
This post is one of six on street art in Berlin. If you are planning a trip to Berlin and are looking for alternative art, an authentic Berlin experience and loads of inspiration, I suggest that you take a look at the other posts in the series. There are links to everything at the end of the post!
So let’s get started…
Put Holzmarktstraße 25 10243 Berlin into Google. That’s where we’ll begin our tour today.
1. Holzmarkt Street Art
Holtzmarkt is a unique urban compound consisting of a hostel, artist workshops, rental workspaces, cafés, bars and more. Be sure to visit the Holtzmarkt website or Facebook page to see what is open and when.
If you are only there to enjoy the street art and graffiti, it doesn’t really matter when you go (during opening hours). The open spaces and creations are all in the open. For some, all you have to do is walk around and enjoy the work of international and local street artists. A majority of the street art at the compound decorates the trail and wall across the street. You can also relax at the cafés or picnic tables throughout the compound and near the river. It’s not exactly a place to “stop and eat”, it is more a place to catch a bite and go on – we have many more cultural attractions and street art masterpieces to see.
Leaving the compound, you will see dozens of other graffiti creations on the other side of the street. I suggest that you cross the street and walk toward our next station.
Put Shulz Hotel in Google.
2. Schultz Hotel Berlin
The Schulz Hotel is not worth stopping at as a hotel but, in today’s program, it adds a great deal of value and lets us rest a bit, have a drink, use the loo and enjoy the street art decorating the hotel’s public areas – the restaurants, inner courtyards and various indoor spaces.
3. The Wall Museum – East Side Gallery
The Berlin street art scene is usually related to 1961, when the USSR erected the Berlin Wall, which separated East and West Germany for years. The symbolic significance of the wall, as a divisive and separating factor, led the city’s resident to express their opinions and frustrations on the city’s walls.
During the Cold War, the western side of the Berlin Wall was completely covered with murals, unlike the eastern side, which remained bare, as Eastern Berliners were not allowed close enough to paint. After the Wall fell in 1989, dozens of creations appeared on the eastern side as well. The different content on both sides of the Wall enabled the viewers to comprehend the historical and political changes in Europe by comparing the various themes described on both sides of the Wall.
Today, Berlin’s streets boast some of the world’s best and most famous street art creations. Street and graffiti artists from around the world utilize the city’s architecture, making it their own personal canvas and creating a unique and colorful landscape.
The longest creation on the Berlin Wall is known as the East Side Gallery. It is the longest remnant (1.3 km) of the Berlin Wall. It is covered with 118 murals painted by 20 artists from around the world. The first painting was painted in December 1989, shortly after the Wall “fell” and travel restrictions between East and West Berlin were lifted.
The paintings, created shortly after the Iron Curtain fell, document the Easter Berliners’ hopes for a better and freer future. The gallery is a popular tourist site and probably the world’s largest graffiti gallery. Notice how, different segments on the other side of the Wall (facing the river) are also filled with graffiti and street art created by independent artists.
In the past decade, since the murals were painted, they were damaged by air pollution, graffiti painted over them and the weather. A non-profit organization was established in 2000 , aiming to preserve the paintings. The restoration work was completed in 2009. The East Side Gallery is both a symbol of the joy with ending Germany’s division and a historic reminder of the inhumanity of the DDR border police.
The gallery is open to the public, 24 hours a day, all year round.
Entrance is free and the address is Mühlenstraße 47 – 80. The gallery goes on and you are welcome to continue enjoying dozens of pieces.
Now, let’s go east to Urban Spree. Once you get to East Side Gallery, enter your next stop on Google so you know when to turn to the next compound.
4. Urban Spree
Berlin, which UNESCO denotes as a “World City of Design” is known as the capital of art and expression based on a mixture of styles, inspirations and intriguing influences. Street art is an integral part of the Berlin underground scene, an art scene that contributes to the uniqueness and creativity that define the German capital.
Urban Spree is an industrial art space covering 1,700m², dedicated to urban art through exhibitions, artists’ quarters, workshops, DIY, skating, concerts, arts, a food court and large beer garden. The complex hosts exhibitions, festivals, concerts and other events throughout the year.
The Urban Spree visit experience if very alternative – and that relates to everything – its various spaces, trails, the building walls, seating areas, food courts and – believe it or not – the public toilets.
Inside the Urban Spree compound is the Urban Spree Gallery – an urban, contemporary and independent art center. The gallery is located in a post-industrial compound in the heart of Berlin and, every month, it curates independent art shows that include, among others, creations throughout the entire complex and not just the gallery. If you’ve come here only for the street art, all you need to check in advance are the opening hours.
The address is: 99 Revaler Straße
Urban Spree is a multifaceted compound that merges multiple media on walls, fences and floors, enabling you to choose how to enjoy art. The Urban Spree concert hall is dedicated to a wide variety of live music, ranging from rock to advanced electronic music. The complex also hosts urban summer sessions with Berlin’s best street musicians (every Friday night, Saturday and Sunday in the Beer Garden).
Urban Spree is also home for many festivals and events, such as Pictoplasma, Druck berlin, Amaze, ComicInvasion Berlin, Krake, graphic days, outdoor screenings, diner events and more.
If you want to participate in the events, you should check the website or Facebook in advance.
5. Urban Nation Museum
The Urban Nation Museum of Contemporary Urban Art in Berlin was opened in the Schonenberg neighborhood in 2017 and, since then, it has provided its visitors with insights on matters relating to history, culture and urban art in Germany. The museum is a unique platform for changing exhibitions aiming to introduce street art and culture and to invoke urban inspiration and creation. Admission to the museum is free of charge.
On the one hand, the museum experience resembles that of other small museums. On the other hand, Urban Nation, offers a unique glimpse of the Berlin street experience, with thousands of photos taken by artists and photographers who were and are involved in the Berlin street art scene.