The East Side Gallery is a 1.3 km-long painted stretch of the former Berlin Wall along the Mühlenstrasse in former East Berlin. It is the largest open-air gallery in the world with over one hundred original mural paintings. Galvanised by the extraordinary events which were changing the world, artists from all around the globe rushed to Berlin after the fall of the Wall, leaving a visual testimony of the joy and spirit of liberation which erupted at the time.
Wall murals had previously been a highlight for visitors and a Berlin attraction for years but were only to be found on the western side of the Wall. The artists transformed the grey concrete rearticulating this into a lasting expression of freedom and reconciliation.
Some of the best known paintings such as “The Mortal Kiss” by Dimitrji Vrubel, of Erich Honecker and Leonid Brezhnev’s mouth-to-mouth embrace and Birgit Kinder’s Trabi (Trabant) knocking down the Wall. They have provided popular postcard material until today. The paintings which still reflect the patchwork, eclectic and bohemian atmosphere of Berlin today are a mixed-bag of surreal images, political statements and graffiti-like effusions stretching from the Oberbaum Brücke to the Ostbahnhof.
The murals are under heritage protection. Restoration of over a quarter of the paintings which have suffered decay caused by defacement, weather and air pollution is underway.