It’s been 25 years since the Berlin Wall came tumbling down … suddenly, surprisingly, peacefully. Memories of the wall’s horrors seem like yesterday to those of us old enough to remember it and to have personally seen the wall and its “death zone.” Today, more than a generation has no personal memory of its terror, suffering and death.

Berlin Wall 25th Anniversary historical archive photo from 1989 at the Brandenburg Gate.

Berlin Wall 25th Anniversary. Berlin Wall Historical Archive Photo from November 11, 1989, showing the wall and guards at the Brandenburg Gate. Photo by Uwe Gerig.

Berlin Wall 25th Anniversary – remarkable art installation

To commemorate the division beginning in 1961 and the freedom following the wall’s collapse in 1989, Berlin rebuilt the “wall” with white helium-filled balloons. The Berlin Wall 25th anniversary public art installation designed by two artist brothers followed the former wall’s path – little of the original wall remains today with only sections marked by a line of bricks embedded in streets and sidewalks. On the evening of Nov. 9, 2014 – 25 years to the day that feared checkpoints and guard towers were abandoned to open East-West transit –- the balloons were symbolically released, rising freely into the night sky.

Berlin Wall 25th Anniversary balloons at Brandenburg Gate.

Berlin Wall 25th Anniversary. Helium balloons recreate the wall at the Brandenburg Gate 25 years after the photo from the historical archives shown at the top of this story was taken. Photo by Daniel Bueche.

Personal stories about the wall’s impact on the lives of many people have been linked to the public art display on the brothers’ microsite,, available in both German and English.

Berlin Wall 25th Anniversary Spree River Helium Balloons

Berlin Wall 25th Anniversary. Helium balloon wall along the Spree River recreates the former Berlin Wall. Photo by Daniel Bueche.

HI Travel Tales has spent some time in Berlin – and promises to spend more. Berlin is a hard city to not love – the depth of history around every corner sucks you in, the plethora of great restaurants and breadth of culture feeds your soul, and a kind of gritty coolness enlivens the mind.

Take a walk along Bernauer Street where neighborhoods were divided by the wall. You can easily spend hours meandering along the former “death zone,” reading plaques about those who died in their attempts seeking liberty, listening to audio recordings of those who lived through it, and re-living the shock that is recreated with photos — see our story on walking the Berlin Wall.

Berlin Wall 25th Anniversary -- a line of bricks along Berlin city streets mark where the wall stood.

A line of bricks along Berlin city streets mark where the Berlin Wall once stood.

Don’t miss the somewhat grungy Mauerpark that was also a central point of the separation since the wall ran along its edge — watch a short HI Travel Tales video featuring Mauerpark here.

Find your way to some of the remaining wall sections and a guard tower near the Berlin Wall Memorial, and then try to envision an entire city surrounded by this and try not to be moved to tears.

For additional information:

>> The official Berlin Wall 25th Anniversary website.

>> An excellent story in Fast Company magazine about the brothers behind the Berlin Wall 25th Anniversary balloon installation.

>> The microsite for the two artist brothers behind the white helium balloons that recreated the Berlin Wall.

>> Short video highlighting the release of the commemorative balloons on the evening of Nov. 9, 2014.


Berlin Wall 25th Anniversary - Why?

A section of the Berlin Wall left standing in Berlin carries the graffiti tag we are still asking today … why?

Schiffshebewerk Niederfinow

The Schiffshebewerk Niederfinow was completed in 1934 and is part of the Haavel-Oder waterway connecting the Elbe and Oder river basins. The waterway begins in Berlin at the Spandau lock and opens into the West Oder at the border area between Poland and Germany. Watching ships being raised and lowered in this ship elevator is amazing. A true engineering marvel.

Marienklause Chapel

Bigger is not always better. Sometime small, like a historic Munich chapel, can be a travel must-see. It’s easy when traveling through big European cities to follow the throngs to the large churches or cathedrals in town. Huge European cathedrals can be very impressive, of course. But the Marienklause Chapel, about 3-4 miles south of the city center of Munich, Germany, is certainly worth a close look.

Kleinhesselhoer See, Englischer Garten

Created at the behest of Prince Carl Theodor in 1789, the Englischer Garten in Munich, Germany, is one of the largest city parks in the world. And, we can attest, it provides for a magical and wondrous escape from the clamor and bustle of Munich’s busy urban streets.

Sophie Scholl Memorial

Easily missed, the Sophie Scholl memorial looks like loose pieces of paper scattered on the ground in front of the university building. In actuality, they are attached permanently to the ground in front of the main entrance on the so-called “Geschwister Scholl Platz.”

Planten Un Blomen Garden

A visit to the Planten un Blomen Garden on your Hamburg tour is a must, whether you are a flower and garden lover, adore open spaces, enjoy dancing water fountains, or just want a nice place for a stroll or picnic.

St Nikolai Kirche

The  St Nikolai Kirche (St. Nicholas Church) has been a part of the Hamburg skyline since the 12th century. Now in ruins from World War II bombings, just its spire remains standing. No longer a place of worship, the spire (thought until 1876 to be the tallest building in the world) and its restored crypt below serve as a haunting and moving memorial to the horror of war’s devastation.

International Donaufest in Ulm

The International Donaufest (Danube) Festival has been held since 1998 and occurs every other year. Ulm city center and the banks of the Danube river are turned into a sort of international festival to celebrate the coming together of regions and countries along the Danube that rely on the river — Bavaria, Austria, Hungary, Serbia, Croatia, Bulgaria and Romania. The festival last 10 days and includes a massive fireworks display.International Donaufest Fireworks in Ulm 2016

Drei Annen Hohne

Wernigerode Train Station - Brockenbahn

The Brocken

Quedlinburg Old Watch Tower

The rolling foothills of the Harz mountains that surround Quedlinburg feature forested terrain with open, rolling meadows, some hills and plenty of farmland – perfect for those who need to stretch the legs and mind a bit on an easy wander. We’d heard about the Quedlinburg Old Watch Tower (“Altenburgwarte”) that was located approximately 0.5 miles (just under 750 meters) from the southwest edge of town, on a sandstone ridge overlooking the village below.

Kellerwald Forchheim beer gardens

“Off to the cellar” is what you’ll hear from Forchheim locals when they disappear into the forest on trails (“auf die Keller”). What that means in local slang is that they are headed to a beehive of popular beer gardens nestled deep in the forest of Franconian Switzerland in Upper Bavaria – the Kellerwald Forchheim beer gardens.


Berlin is one of our favorite cities in the world. It is cosmopolitan, worldly, quirky, exotic, bohemian, evolving, vibrant and so very, very alive — there is something to do or see or experience 24 hours a day if you are so inclined. Little wonder so many tourists, wanderers, artists, authors, musicians, actors and creative minds discover and fall in love with Berlin. Whether you are visiting for one day, two days, a week or more, the best way to begin your quest to find what to do in Berlin is here. Our What to do in Berlin resource guide and links, map, as well as numerous articles highlighting insider travel tips for you will ensure your visit to Berlin is memorable.

Heads up! This information on the Berlin Wall was accurate when we published it on HI Travel Tales, but, as we know, traveling is all about changes (and inflation, sadly). Please be sure to confirm prices, transportation schedules, hours of operation, safety and health considerations, request for perfect weather during your entire visit, and any other important details before your adventure.