In discussing favorite cities, friends and I always give points to those that have a distinct aesthetic. Could you be dropped in the place blindly and instantaneously be able to tell where you are? Both New York City and Paris fit this description, as does Berlin, in large part due to its unique street art culture.
The rise of Berlin street art came in the early 60s, after the erection of The Wall. Its West side was covered in murals over time, while the East remained blank. The tradition continued to be a critical part of the Berlin landscape after the fall of The Wall in ’89, and the street art culture is alive and well today, the city's structures donning murals by famed names like JR and lesser-known artists alike.
Street art is prevalent, so simply walking the city will be an informal tour. But we recommend checking out these neighborhoods specifically for a concentration of pieces:
- Kreuzberg: where Alex and I stayed when we were in Berlin last, this neighborhood is known for its bohemian and local vibe. Don’t miss (though it would be hard to) French artist Victor Ash's Spaceman, one of the largest stencils in the world.
- Mitte: a central neighborhood that houses many tourist sites, parts of Mitte also have that relaxed ambiance. It was once home to a great number of squatter residences, one of the best known being Tacheles, and though now closed down, the area still has a strong street art presence.
- Friedrichshain: neighboring Kreuzberg, this ‘hood has some of the city’s most famous street art. Be sure to check out East Side Gallery, the largest remaining portion of The Wall, which is almost entirely covered with murals. Also check out Urban Spree at Revaler Strasse 99, a mixed-use space with an art gallery, concert space, studios, and food truck.
And if you find yourself in Berlin in the next few months, there two not-to-miss exhibitions. Famed Berlin street artist Alias is having a show entitled FRAGMENTS at Open Walls Gallery, on view until May 30. And Urban Nation x Brooklyn Street Art bring Brooklyn to Berlin with exhibition PERSONS OF INTEREST, part of Project M/7, showcasing original works 12 Brooklyn street artists, on view until June 22.
Have a reliable recommendation or sweet spot to share? Go crazy in the comments section.