A Stroll Through Berlin’s Gritty Street Art Scene
Once described by the late David Bowie as the greatest cultural extravaganza that one could imagine͟, Berlin is truly a melting pot of artistic, cultural and spiritual transformation. Having lived in Berlin for three years now, I can safely say that this still rings true – perhaps as much as it did in the ͚70s for the aforementioned musical icon, who famously spent three years here living in a Schöneberg apartment block with Iggy Pop. Uniquely shaped by the creative souls that wandered, and still wander, the streets of Berlin, this city remains a whimsical Neverland for dreamers, soul-searchers, innovative thinkers, and hedonists.
Traversing Berlin is like looking into a mirror, each time you see a little of yourself, and each time you see something different. Whether on foot, by bike or U-Bahn, the gritty streetscape that keeps me captivated. People watching is mandatory, educational and enlightening. However, it’s the wall murals, motifs, and graffiti that make this place the enduring street art Mecca of the world
We start our tour at the largest remaining section of the Berlin Wall: the East Side Gallery. Identifiable by its regularly changing artwork and mass of selfie stick wielding tourists, this symbolic stretch of the Mauer is a must-see.
A mishmash of stencils, spray paint, stickers, and paste-ups, Kreuzberg is at the heart of the Berlin street art scene. Casually wandering the streets you will find a range of impressive images, including this artwork advertising the 2016 art festival Neon Chocolate.
Some of the most iconic pieces in Berlin are that of the Belgian street artist ROA. Unmissable, large and often confronting, this example sits at the corner of Oranien Straße and Manteuffel Straße in central Kreuzberg.
The Italian artist BLU filmed some of his first iconic stop-motion films in Berlin and contributed hugely to the street art scene during the mid-2000s. Titled Backjump, this mural was painted in 2007 and sits at the Kreuzberg end of the Oberbaumbrücke.
Berlin’s most infamous piece of street art and another work by BLU, these two walls on Cuvry Straße were formerly large murals until they were dramatically removed overnight with black paint in 2015 as a statement against the burgeoning gentrification in multi-ethnic Kreuzberg. You can check out the originals here.
Bright walls illuminate the often-grey streets of Berlin with a range of eye-catching and attention-grabbing motifs.
On a rare sunny day in Görlitzer Park you will see remnants of the former Bahnhof plastered with an array of colorful artworks, along with locals gathering on the steps to boost their much-needed vitamin D.
Another iconic work, the Cosmonaut by Victor Ash is casually located on the south wall of an Altbau building on Skalitzer Straße.
Located on Oppelner Straße you will find a piece by Os Gêmeos, a pair of Brazilian brothers who have contributed fascinating pieces to locations around the globe.
Rounded Heads by Nomad sits discreetly between two unassuming apartment buildings in Oppelner Straße, Kreuzberg.
Wander around Berlin, and you might stumble across pieces by El Bocho. Works are based around the seemingly cute girl named Little Lucy, and the rather unsettling lengths she will go to kill her cat.
Head North to Friedrichshain and you will find Urban Spree, a gritty compound of markets, exhibitions, concerts and a ceaseless collection of street art. Of course, these are only a tiny handful of the awe-inspiring works hiding around every corner in Berlin. In this ever changing city, it’s virtually impossible to experience boredom as you walk, wander and explore.
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