The Berlin Wall was built by the German Democratic Republic (GDR), under the leadership of Walter Ulbricht, in August 1961. At a press conference on 15 June 1961 he said:
‘I interpret your question such that there are people in West Germany, who desire us to mobilise construction workers of the capital of the GDR to erect a wall. I am not aware of such intention. Our capital’s construction workers are mainly engaged with building homes, and that is what their entire manpower is dedicated to. Nobody intends to build a wall!’
Only two months later, on 13 August 1961, GDR armed forces sealed off the border between East and West Berlin and erected barriers. The Berlin wall, also known as the ‘anti-fascist protection wall’ in the GDR, remained a part of the intra-German border for over 28 years. Until 9th November 1989, the day the wall came down, it separated West Berlin from East Berlin and from the GDR territory surrounding the city. Hundreds of people were killed trying to overcome the heavily guarded border, which covered over 167.8 kilometres in length. The exact number of deaths is controversial and not conclusive. According to current research it is somewhere between 136 and 206.
Today, over 20 years later, many parts of the former wall strip hardly show any signs of the misanthropic ‘anti-fascist protection wall.’ We have tracked down some remaining traces in the areas between the famous crossings at Bornholmer Straße (from the East Berlin district of Prenzlauer Berg to its western neighbour Wedding) and at Checkpoint Charlie (from East Berlin Mitte to western Kreuzberg). On the three to four-hour tour you will learn how the cherry trees came to be planted on the border strip at Bornholmer Straße, where the Monday Demonstrations originated, and where to find an original part of the Berlin Wall (including death strip), stretching over 212 meters. Or why there are metal images of rabbits embedded in asphalt. In a lot of places, the course of the Wall can still be followed today, as it is demarcated by pavestones in the ground.
You will have the unique opportunity of going through the Brandenburg Gate on wheels, as this is only possible by bicycle. Regular traffic has been barred from passing through it for years. You will also learn how the Tränenpalast (Palace of Tears) came to its name, and where on earth it is.
From Checkpoint Charlie, the last stop of the Berlin Wall Tour, we will cross the boroughs of Mitte and Prenzlauer Berg and pass many interesting sites, e.g. the famous variety show venue Friedrichstadtpalast and the Charité Hospital, and then head back to Bornholmer Straße. We will pass many more sites during this tour, which you will just have to find out about there and then.
Your adventure awaits!
Berlin Bike Tour
Founded in 2009, Berlin Bike Tours offers small, personal bike and walking tours of Berlin and its surrounds in English and German. Our promise is unique experiences without mass tourism. We have been awarded certificates for excellence from TripAdvisor for both 2012 and 2013 and have been named the 8th best activity in Berlin out of 203 activities.