FREE Things to Do: Learn about the Berlin Wall

The 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall will be marked this year on November 9, 2014. For those of you looking for the many historical traces that were left from the division of the city, Berlin is filled with them. Here are some great, informative, and FREE exhibitions on the Berlin Wall to look out for when you come visit Berlin. Learn about the Berlin Wall and its history without spending a fortune. Check out our FREE self-guided Berlin Wall and East Berlin tour.

Tränenpalast (Palace of Tears)
Reichstagsufer 17, next to S-Bhf Friedrichstrasse, open: Tue-Fri 9am-7pm, Sat-Sun 10am-6pm, FREE.
This permanent exhibition remembers the border crossing from East to West Berlin and gives visitors an understanding of what everyday life in the divided nation or what the border crossing must have been like. With great audio guides (also available in English), real life objects, and many interesting and heart-breaking interviews, visitors will gain a real insight into the personal lives of people in the divided city.  The Tränenpalast (Palace of Tears) – witness to many tears (hence the name) – was the former border departure hall, where visitors from West Berlin who had visited families and friends in East Berlin had to depart. Plan at least 1 hour for your visit, and note that you cannot bring food or drinks into the exhibition.

Berlin Wall Memorial and Documentation Center at Bernauer Strasse
Bernauer Strasse 111, next to S-Bhf Nordbahnhof, open: Mon-Sun 8am-10pm (outdoor memorial), Tue-Sun 9.30am-6pm (documentation center), FREE.
This outdoor exhibition documents the history of Berlin from the construction to the fall of the wall. Part of the memorial is a preserved former border death strip and a monument to several East Germans who tried to escape and found death. This is also the site where a church was detonated because it stood right in the middle of the death strip. The memorial abstains from dramatic effects. There is an indoor visitor center and a documentation center across the street. The documentation center has a small bistro and bathrooms. The outdoor memorial is open year-round, though the audio and video clips only play during the hours of the documentation center.

Outdoor exhibition at Checkpoint Charlie
Corner Friedrichstrasse / Zimmerstrasse, near U-Bhf Kochstrasse, FREE.
The exhibition galleries on Friedrichstrasse and Zimmerstrasse tell the story of many escape trials, as well as the history of the checkpoint itself. This border crossing was the most confrontational one, as this is where American and Soviet tanks faced each other. This famous checkpoint between East Berlin and the American sector has become more commercialized than the other sites. Get your photo taken with the border police or explore the many GDR memorabilia stores.

East Side Gallery
Mühlenstrasse, near the river Spree and the S+U Bhf Warschauer Strasse, FREE.
Even though the East Side Gallery near the beautiful bridge called Oberbaumbrücke does not have an exhibition at the moment, the mile-long wall with over 105 paintings from international artists speaks for itself. As the paintings portray change, euphoria and a better future, this memorial will be the most up-lifting out of all the wall exhibitions. The best known graffiti painting by Dmitri Vrubel depicts a kiss between Leonid Brezhnev and Erich Honecker, is based on a real photograph of the two statesmen during the celebration of the anniversary of East Germany as a communist nation.

You might also be interested in our other info posts on the Berlin Wall, Life with the Wall, or the Fall of the Berlin Wall.

 +++Coming soon: Free Tours by Foot offers a Berlin Wall Walking Tour!+++