I’ve never been anywhere where the phrase ‘don’t judge a book by it’s cover’ has been more appropriate. From the outside, this place looks like a giant oil storage unit. In fact, if it weren’t for the epic PANORAMA > > signage, you definitely wouldn’t think there was anything in there other than, well, oil probably.
As my boyfriend and I were heading to Checkpoint Charlie museum, we wandered past and I was intrigued what was going on on the other side of the road. Because I’m just that nosy, we crossed the road to have a closer look and saw that there was some kind of panoramic view of the wall. Seeing as we were heading for a Berlin Wall-themed day anyway, this sounded right up our street!
Before we made our way to buy tickets, we were stopped by a lovely woman who gave us a quick overview of what we could expect inside. It felt a bit like we were being prepped for something scary, but in hindsight I think they didn’t want us to be scared away by the price with the thought that all we’d see is essentially a big picture. Tickets bought, we made our way in. The inside of the building is split into two parts. Literally – there’s a big wall down the middle, giving two semi-circular rooms. The first room you enter is, on first impressions, ugly.
There’s grey everywhere and graffiti covering absolutely everything – the walls, the floor, even the columns in the middle of the room! But upon closer inspection, the grey walls are covered with photos of people’s memories of the wall. And the graffiti is messages left by people of what freedom means to them.
The photos along the wall tells the story of the wall going up, being up and coming down from the perspective of the people affected – citizens and tourists, as well as stills from a documentary made at the time. Those that have come from individuals have small captions with them, explaining what was going on in the photo, or the person’s reaction to the wall. It really adds a personal touch to the wall, to see how it really affected people’s lives and how it became a part of their everyday life. I wish I could have taken a photo of every photograph on that wall, because I absolutely loved them all!After we’d taken in all of the photographs, and come to the end of the life of the Berlin Wall (when it was torn down), we made our way into the next room which held the panorama. I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but I was really taken back.
The entire wall is a photograph (or amazingly detailed painting, but I think more likely a photograph) which gives you the perspective of someone standing on the West side of the wall. The panorama wraps the whole 180 degrees of the room, and there’s viewing platform in the middle. From the floor, the panorama is impressive. From the viewing platform it’s absolutely amazing – the panorama looks 3D and it actually feels like you’re looking out over the wall. The lights dim down every so often as if night is falling, and there are sounds of the activities surrounding the wall played into the room.
As you look around, you can see things like people touching the wall, shops, bars, a petrol station, people walking and other everyday things happening on the West side of the wall. In stark contrast, the East side shows a distinct lack of life. There are guard towers, death strips, security lighting and windows boarded up everywhere. You can’t see any people, or any evidence of life as there is in the West.
The small pamphlet we were given with our tickets explains what’s going on, and what everything is. But the real magic of the wall can’t be explained, and it definitely cannot be photographed. I’d definitely recommend a visit here if you’re interested in the life cycle and effect of the wall, and want to see it from the eyes from everyday people in Berlin.
- Tickets are €10, or €7,50 with a Berlin Welcome Card
- Don’t judge this place on it’s looks!
- It’s just round the corner from Checkpoint Charlie, great for if you’re having a Berlin Wall day