This is a self-guided tour of the varieties of graffiti and street art one can find on the streets of Berlin. Graffiti and street art is very typical for Berlin and can be found everywhere. The former city mayor described Berlin as "poor and sexy". Graffiti and street art just fit right into this slogan. While graffiti and street art is not just the product of unruly gangs, it is a form of expression and an important component of Berlin’s underground art and culture scene, which contributes to the uniqueness and creativity that defines the German capital. Berlin in many ways throughout history has had an alternative and unconventional streak of rebellion and emancipation, and it shows in its urban art environment that it is often thought-provoking and political. Many street artists are attracted to Berlin; they either live in Berlin or travel here to leave their mark. If you walk the streets of Berlin with a keen eye. you will notice street art and graffiti everywhere - on walls, garbage containers, bridges, doors, sidewalks, tunnels and other places.
This self-guided tour will serve as a short introduction to Berlin’s graffiti and street art.
Berlin graffiti and street art at Dircksenstrasse
This street along the elevated viaduct railway tracks, which connects Alexanderplatz and Hackescher Markt in Mitte is filled with street art. You’ll find mostly paste-ups (that’s paper glued with a flour paste) on those walls and brick stones. Dircksenstrasse is one of the major location for Berlin street art. You will find several artists’ work here.
El Bocho’s Lucy Cat: Street artist El Bocho (spanish: little donkey) started his street art projects in 1997. He worked as an illustrator for the newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine and now calls Berlin his home. His Little Lucy’s cat piece of art is all over Berlin. Little Lucy – the character of a TV show - gets satirized and portrayed in her many attempts of killing her cat – either in by cooking, stabbing or hanging the cat. Lucy’s ideas of how to get rid of her cat seem infinite.
It’s time to dance Project by SOBR:
The dancing girls with glitter confetti and the slogan “It’s time to dance”.
This artist is also active in other cities, such as Marseille and Lisabon.
Number 6 guy: This random and simply painted number 6 is the product of a welfare recipient who travels through Berlin by bike with a paint brush and paint can. It's welfare money spent quite differently, than intended, that's for sure.
Berlin graffiti and street art at Haus Schwarzenberg
Hidden in a courtyard next to the fancy Hackesche Höfe, the Haus Schwarzenberg is a non-profit that fosters a down-to-earth, creative space for alternative street art. Enter the courtyard via Rosenthaler Strasse. If the cafe cinema is to your left, then you found the correct alleyway. The courtyard houses a café, an independent cinema, and some museums and exhibitions. Artists such as El Bocho and Stinkfish have left their traces in the alley, and you’ll also find peculiar metal sculptures in the back.
Stinkfish: All the way in the back on the left wall, artist Stinkfish painted a colorful and intriguing face which is a popular photo background. Stinkfish, born in Mexico, was brought up in Bogota, Columbia.
Berlin graffiti and street art Kreuzberg Murals
Kreuzberg’s street art scene reflects the alternative vibe of this Berlin borough. Many street art pieces have political messages. Berlin Kreuzberg is not only home to a diverse immigrant population, but also home to the punk movement and other alternative subcultures.
A good point to start from is the U-train station Kottbusser Tor. Walk east on Skalitzer Strasse and take the first left turn up Mariannenstrasse. Half a block into Mariannenstrasse to your right you can see the Astronaut (C), a 14 x 22 meter large painting on the building wall by French artist Victor Ash. Ash lives in Copenhagen and is an active street artist since the 1980s.
Take a right turn on Oranienstrasse to Skalitzer Strasse. On the building to your left is the mural by ROA (D), a Belgium street artist, which shows a deer, bird and hare hanging from the wall. ROA’s art often depicts urban animals and he has been painting around the world including the US and Australia.
Continue walking on Skalitzer Strasse and turn right on on Oppelner Strasse. On the ride side building you’ll find the mural by Os Gemeos (E) (Portugese: twins). The artists are the identical twins Otavio and Gustavo Pandolfo from Brasil. They are known for painting yellow-faced figures, which apparently both twins keep seeing in their dreams. They started out as breakdancers, and later influenced by the New York hip-hop scene.
Turn around and walk on Oppelner Strasse and Oberbaumstrasse towards the river. On the right side of Oberbaumbrücke by the river, you’ll find one more mural. This one depicts a rose-coloured man who if you look closely consists of many small figures compiled to one big face. It is painted by street artist Blu and called Backjump (F). Blu is an Italian artist who started his street art in 1999 as a spray painter. He travelled worldwide including South America and the Westbank.
Since you are in Kreuzberg, check out our self-guided Kreuzberg tour.
Berlin graffiti and street art in Friedrichshain
Friedrichshain’s alternative scene is still very active, despite the recent construction developments that is driving through this neighborhood. Friedrichshain is still the place where you can find most graffiti and tags on house walls, water pipes, and entrance doors. If you walk the streets e.g. Revaler Strasse, Dirschauer Strasse, Niederbarnimstrasse and Boxhagener Strasse, you’ll find stencils and paste-ups from famous Berlin street artists such as Alias, Xooox, Mein Lieber Prost on the walls.
Another piece of street art can be found on top of the street signs: the cork yogi, little figures made out of wine corks in different yoga poses. A gym teacher Josef Foos started this project. Those little figures are not only to be seen in Friedrichshain, but all over Berlin.
If you are in the area, you might also enjoy our self-guided Friedrichshain tour.
Berlin Murals at the East Side Gallery
Last but not least, the most well-known collection of murals in Berlin is of course at the East Side Gallery. This 1.3 km long wall by the river Spree between Oberbaumbrücke and Ostbahnhof commemorates the separation of Berlin into East and West. The wall contains around 100 murals from painters from 21 countries. All images have a political message about change and progress in Germany and the world.