This post is also available in: German
The street art scene in Kreuzberg is often overlooked by first time visitors to the city in favour of the East Side Gallery just across the river in Friedrichshain. While the art covering the longest remaining stretch of the Berlin Wall is indeed impressive, it is often covered in graffiti and actually, in my opinion, there is much more interesting and better maintained street art to be found in Berlin.
Let’s say that you’ve just walked the length of the East Side Gallery, bringing you to Oberbaumbrücke, the iconic red brick bridge at the east end of the wall. I’ll meet you there, and we’ll cross the river to former West Berlin together to start my personal street art tour of Kreuzberg!
Oberbaumbrücke is one of Berlin’s oldest still standing bridges, though in 1945 the middle section was destroyed by the Nazis in an attempt to stop the Russians from crossing. When Berlin was divided into four sectors, the bridge was reconnected, and during the period of the Berlin Wall, served as one of the main border crossings.
Now, on the new middle section you can see one of Berlin’s most subtle pieces of street art (which is only visible at night) of two hands in neon lights, one red, one green, playing an endless game of rock-paper-scissors across the line that used to divide the city.
Crossing the bridge, you have the chance to see the site of one of Berlin’s now most infamous pieces of street art. From the pedestrian walkway on the bridge, look out across to the other side of the river to your left (east) and on a wall just to the left of a white building you’ll see the black silhouettes of two pieces by the Italian artist, Blu.
Blu created these two huge pieces of street art in 2007 for a street art exhibition. One piece, The Brothers, depicted two figures in white removing each other’s masks, and the other, Chains, was of a man’s torso doing up his tie while his hands were shackled together with a gold chain between a watch on each wrist. In 2014 however, after seeing how the area surrounding was changing, Blu decided to black out these pieces as a demonstration against the gentrification of the city.
Once across the bridge, you’ll see the next piece on our tour right in front of you: Leviathan, alternatively known as Pink Man. This piece, also by Blu, alludes to the biblical monster that is now synonymous with any large sea creature. Here, Blu has created a giant pink humanoid made of smaller figures about to eat one, cowering white figure.
We will then follow the metro tracks for 100 meters or so until we reach Schlesisches Tor station, then cross the street straight ahead and follow Oppelnerstrasse south for a few more meters. There on the right side you’ll see Yellow Man. This piece was created in 2005 by Os Gemeos, twin brothers from Brazil, who are famous for painting yellow skinned characters with somber expressions.
Going back to the main road (Skalitzerstrasse), we’ll turn left following the metro tracks again, heading west for about 1 kilometer. There, directly on your right, on the corner of Manteuffelstrasse and Oranienstrasse, you’ll see Animals. Painted in 2011 by Belgian artist Roa, this piece showcases his signature style of almost photorealistic animals in black and grey.
We’ll then head just around the corner on Mariannenstrasse (continue straight ahead on Oranienstrasse for 200 meters then turn left down Mariannenstrasse for 50 meters and turn around) to see another iconic piece of Berlin street art: Astronaut. Created in 2007 by Victor Ash, this piece only shows itself fully at night.
Now, you’re in the very heart of Kreuzberg. I’ll leave you here to explore some more on your own. See what other cool, interesting and quirky pieces of street art you can find. I guarantee, you won’t have to go far!