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Travellers’ expectations of a trip to Berlin usually entail a visit to the Brandenburg Gate, a tour of the Jewish memorial and a visit of Hitler’s former bunker. All of these sites brand Berlin as a city of great historical importance and inevitably fill the traveller with an overwhelming sense of sadness. However, Berlin’s tragic past has helped it become a proud city, hopeful for the future. Berlin has previously struggled financially following events such as the Wall Street Crash which decreased the value of the deutschmark, but now has a flourishing global tourism industry.
Aside from the historical sites, the most striking thing about the city is the use of street art, conveying a positive outlook on the future in light of its awful past. The famous East Side Gallery therefore provides a refreshing perspective and makes Berlin more than just a city of history; rather, it represents hope and freedom. Its beautifully abstract and colourful street art is another fascinating attraction for tourists and allows visitors to search for meanings and interpretations. This international memorial for freedom, situated in Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, includes politically charged and daring murals now symbolic of Berlin’s culture, including the famous fraternal embrace between Brezhnev and Honecker. Elsewhere around the city, tourists can spot El Bocho’s ‘Little Lucy’ or Victor Ash’s astronaut.
Even more fascinating is the flourishing house and techno scene that has appeared in East Berlin. Events take place in secluded venues that attempt to reject drunk partygoers and attract those with a real appreciation of techno and house music. The strict entry policy in Berlin’s clubs is well-known, especially at the notorious Watergate, which even has a ‘no-photo’ policy ensuring secrecy. The overwhelming seriousness of the bouncers who maintain a strict one-person-at-a-time door system adds to the sense of apprehension and secrecy of this fascinating area.
By Lucy Harkins
Photo: Soraya Stanley
The UoB Linguist Magazine
Guild of Students,
University of Birmingham