It’s hard to believe that it’s been 25 years since the Berlin Wall was torn down. It seemed like I was older, but I was only a teenager at the time. I had the opportunity to visit Berlin nearly four years ago, and was quite moved by the portions of the wall that still remain. It’s hard to fathom living under communist rule, closed off from the rest of the world; but, the fact remains that many endured that living hell.
Today, November 9th marks the 25th anniversary since the fall of the wall and Germany was reunited. Several colleagues were in Berlin this weekend for the anniversary celebration. It must’ve been impressive to see the celebration firsthand, as 8,000 helium balloons were released into the night sky over the Brandenburg Gate.
I thought it was only fitting to post a photo essay now; despite the fact that I was just starting to travel and get into photography then, so my photos are definitely not of the best caliber.
Potsdamer Platz is an important area in German history. It was considered the old heart of East Berlin’s city center and what was formerly the new West Berlin. During the communist era, Potsdamer Platz found itself destroyed, sitting in front of the former Potsdam gate. The area basically became a wasteland and was left desolate during the Cold War. Today, it’s been revived and transformed into a bustling and trendy section of Berlin. We were staying at the Ritz-Carlton there, and I noticed just a block or so away, there were sections of the wall that remained on display.
Not surprisingly, a beautiful holiday weekend in Spring brought lots of visitors to Berlin while we were in town. Checkpoint Charlie was packed, both with tourists, and regular residents going about their daily commute. It was interesting to watch the contrast in expressions and mannerisms.
We managed a quick visit to Brandenburg Gate as well, despite the Easter carnival that had overtaken the entire area. Brandenburg Gate is one of the most iconic symbols of Berlin, if not all of Germany. During the Cold War, it was shut off and people would climb an observation platform to see it and the world that laid beyond the Iron Curtain. It was here that Ronald Reagan gave his famous speech, and spoke the most poignant of words, “Mr. Gorbachov — tear down this wall!”
The Brandenberg Gate dates back to the late 1700’s and was inspired by the Propyläen at the Acropolis in Athens, Greece. The gate has suffered some damage over the years, including during WWII. Today, it’s considered a symbol of unity and many important events and ceremonies take place at Brandenburg Gate.
Berlin Wall Memorial
The Berlin Wall Memorial is an absolute must-visit. Here you find one of the last sections of the wall still intact and can have a look at what life was like behind those walls. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a lot of time to explore the museum and all the exhibits, so this is on my “to do” list once I make it back to Berlin again.