Berlin is undeniably one of the coolest cities in Europe. It’s easy to get around, there’s heaps of stuff to do, and the beer’s cheap – what more could you want, really?
The thing I was really looking forward to seeing when I went to Berlin, though, was the street art. There’s something about it that takes me right back to living in east London. And whether it’s politically relevant, socially relevant, or just plain pretty to look at, I’m always interested in hunting out the best street art spots when I travel.
Enter: Berlin, a city that wears its street art with pride.
Where To Find Berlin Street Art
Rosenthaler Strasse 39 Courtyard
Tucked down an alleyway by the side of the Cinema Cafe, the courtyard at Rosenthaler Strasse 39 was once the site of Otto Weidt’s workshop for the blind and deaf where, during the Holocaust, he fought to protect his Jewish workers against deportation.
Nowadays, there’s a museum here dedicated to him, as well as an Anne Frank museum, an art exhibition space, a cafe, and a courtyard filled with ever-changing street art.
I first found out about this street art gem on Instagram (where else!) and added it to my list of things I wanted to see while I was in Berlin. It wasn’t until I actually stumbled across it, though, en route to the shops at Hackescher Markt, that I realised how much of an important role this little courtyard played in Berlin’s history, and how much I loved what the space is now being used for. If you’re going to visit Rosenthalter Strasse 39, stay for a coffee underneath the canopy of colourful bunting before heading off to your next stop.
East Side Gallery
No guide to Berlin street art would be complete without mentioning East Side Gallery, one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions. Once upon a time, it was the Berlin wall. Now it’s the longest open air gallery in the entire world.
Situated on the banks of the river Spree in Friedrichshain, it’s the longest continuous section of the Berlin wall in existence. And, after the wall came down, 118 artists from 21 countries started painting the east side of the wall, covering it in street art that commented on political changes and creating work that people from across the world would come to photograph.
The most popular street art on the wall has to be Dmitri Vrubel’s Fraternal Kiss from 1990, which reproduces the famous 1979 photograph of Leonid Brezhner and Erich Honecker in a fraternal embrace.
As with any popular tourist attraction, East Side Gallery can get busy, so your best bet if you don’t want to spend your entire time there dodging other people’s cameras is to visit early in the morning or in the evening.
East Side Gallery, Mühlenstraße, 10243 Berlin
Kreuzberg is Berlin’s bohemian neighbourhood, and an absolute treasure trove of street art gems. Here, you’ll find many famous Berlin street art murals by artists like ROA, Victor Ash, and Os Gemeos, as well as an alternative, laid-back vibe where people spill out onto pavements outside cafes and bars. It’s the perfect place to spend an afternoon cafe-hopping and street art spotting.
For the best of Kreuzberg’s street art, make sure you head to Skalitzer Strasse and Oberbaumstrasse next to the bridge across the Spree, as well as Oranienstrasse and Mariannenstrasse. These spots are where some of the area’s best murals are, but keep an eye out as you’re walking around Kreuzberg and you’re sure to spot some smaller pieces too.
Covering 1700 square metres in the artsy Berlin-Friedrichshain district, Urban Spree is dedicated to urban cultures through exhibitions, artist residencies, workshops, and concerts. However, what drew me to it on my trip to Berlin was the street art that decorates its open air beer garden and its flagship “artists wall”, a 15m x 8m wall surface facing Warschauer Strasse where artists like Above, Klone, Zevs, Broken Fingaz Crew, Twoone, Low Bros have all showcased their work.
We’d just finished having brunch at Silo Coffee when we happened upon Urban Spree almost by accident, stopping by to take some photos. It wasn’t until we passed by later, on our way back to the hotel that evening, that we saw the space come to life: the empty beer garden we’d seen that morning was now full of people, a DJ was filling the once-quiet space with music, and it looked like the perfect place to spend a chilled summer’s evening.
Urban Spree, Revaler Strasse 99 Berlin
So there you have it: lots of Berlin street art to see if you’re planning your next European city break!
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