Appreciating Alternative Berlin

I’m a huge art lover, so when I went to Berlin, I knew that in addition to taking in the fantastic nightlife, peerless historical sights, and stuffing myself full of currywurst, I wanted to go on an “alternative walking tour” to see the street art. Many of the walking tour companies have alternative or art tours, but I went with Alternative Berlin, and we made sure we saw the best street art around Berlin. Berlin’s motto is “Berlin is poor but sexy” and this tour definitely proved that to be true. The tour stopped at some cool bars, visited works by Banksy and other important artists, as well as major cultural landmarks. Most pictures in this post are from the no-longer-with-us artist squat Kunshaus Tacheles, but I figured I would highlight some of the other major sites on the tour.

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Yaam Berlin: Yaam Berlin is a beach bar! But wait, Berlin isn’t on the beach? That doesn’t matter. Near the Spree River, Berliners have put a bunch of sand, painted nearby sections of the Berlin with a Caribbean theme, and scattered around beach chairs, hammocks and volleyball nets. There’s live and recorded reggae music, tennis and volleyball, and a bar that also serves Caribbean food. The African and Caribbean art is worth looking at.

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East Side Gallery

In Kreutzberg, old sections of the Berlin Wall have been used as canvases by artists from around the world. These sections have been painted with peace related art that is equal parts inspiring and touching. With the energy and spunk surrounding Berlin now, it’s sometimes easy to forget the painful history here, but the East Side Gallery is an excellent memorial to the more difficult times in Berlin’s past.

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Kuntshaus Tacheles

Ah Kuntshaus Tacheles. Tacheles was recently torn down, but its legacy as the epicenter of alternative art in Berlin will live on. Originally a shopping mall built in the early part of the 20th century, Tacheles was taken over by an artist collective in 1990, which used the building as studio, gallery, and living space. Wandering around the giant Tacheles, in and out of studios, up and down stairs, seeing every type of art imaginable was like getting lost in a funhouse world of creativity. Unfortunately, the artists left in 2011, although there is a memorial garden in the back.

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These are just a taste of the types of things you might see on an Alternative Berlin tour. Go for the history, but make sure you experience the present too.

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