Mauerpark: A Berlin Institution

photo: sfreimark / CC

It’s hard to think of anything more quintessentially Berlin than Mauerpark. It contains so much of what this city is about. Is there any phrase more encapsulating of Berlin than “wall park”? It speaks to the city’s storied past, and to our contemporary lifestyle of leisure and charm. Situated on Prenzlauer Berg’s western border with Gesundbrunnen, it’s perhaps the perfect spot to spend a pleasant day, while momentarily reflecting on the city’s history.

Every visitor to Berlin wants  to see the wall. To this end, we have options. There’s the East Side Gallery in Friedrichshain with its famous paintings, there’s Checkpoint Charlie, the most touristy and mainstream spot, there’s the stately, dignified Berlin Wall Memorial (Gedenkstätte Berliner Mauer), and there’s Mauerpark. Mauerpark is cool because it really is a great destination on its own, and is surrounded by the most vibrant neighborhood out of these options.

photo: juliaviajando / CC*

photo: Michela Simoncini / CC

photo: Espen Sundve / CC

photo: Axel Kuhlmann / CC

It really is a park that just happens to have a section of the wall intact, which, like the East Side Gallery, features large-scale art on display. Perhaps it’s even better here than the celebrated East Side Gallery because it’s more alive and engaging – people are always adding and changing the graffiti. And the whole setting provides great context: All the green space was part of the infamous death strip – the area between East and West that was heavily patrolled by armed Soviet gunmen. It’s crazy to stand at the top of the hill in the park and imagine this.

But even with such history, Mauerpark is not at all a somber place. On the contrary! It’s alive with activity. In addition to the graffiti artists always present, there are people playing basketball, singers and jugglers performing, kids on swings, friends picnicking, couples walking through. On the north end of the park is even a climbing wall and sort of petting zoo. And all of this happens daily.

photoClemens v. Vogelsang / CC

photo: Manu / CC

photoEmanuele / CC

photo: mylien_nguyen / CC

left photo: Clemens v. Vogelsang / CC, right photo: Emanuele / CC

It’s on Sunday when the park really takes over the city. The Flohmarkt on the west end of the park is relatively new, but has already become perhaps the most popular place to pick up used and vintage things. There’s stand after stand of clothes, trinkets and souvenirs, as well as tons of street food. It’s a real scene.

And simultaneously, on the east side of the park is outdoor karaoke! This well-known event – Bearpit Karaoke – attracts revelers young and old to its no-rules singing party. Well, there are some rules: don’t be too wasted, don’t take it too seriously, and pick something besides Oasis and Britney. It’s great to pop over here and just see what’s happening – the crowd reacts enthusiastically and it can be a real blast.

But aside from the major weekend events, Mauerpark is a great place to bring a blanket and some beers and just chill out. It’s just a simple, reliable place to enjoy the warm weather. See you there!

photo: fronx / CC*

photo: Mathilde Doiezie / CC*

photoThomas Angermann / CC

photo: simcik / CC*

photo: anika

* slightly color-corrected and cropped to fit the entire set

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<a href="" target="_self">Keith</a>