The Berlin Wall used to divide this city. Knowing this historical fact and actually seeing the places where it was, are completely separate things. I knew we might be turning a little bit Berliner when one day my friend and I were walking near Potsdamer Platz and just walked over the line of bricks in the ground where the wall used to be and both barely even glanced down at it.
Our apartment is near the furthest southwest part of where the wall used to be, and they have turned this section into a very nice path that is excellent for bike riding, jogging, etc.
Here is one of the maps of the trail now:
When the weather is nice, I love to go for a ride along the edge of the city where it is trimmed with cornfields and the pathway is covered with tall trees.
If you know anything about the wall, you know that it wasn’t just one single wall, rather a 10-30 foot dead zone between two different lines of fences/cement wall/barricades that were very heavily guarded and really just surrounded West Berlin to keep them away from all the good East German communists. From the paved path you can barely make out a dirt path where the other side of the dead zone used to be, but you can find it still.
All along the pathway you come across these 15-20 foot tall and 6 inch wide L-shaped orange painted steel rods in the ground. They have pictures and stories attached to them, and were erected to commemorate people who died trying to cross the wall at that exact point. I need to take a picture of these, but somehow it feels odd and disrespectful to do it.
The part of the Mauerweg near my house leads near one of the most peculiar looking places where these 70s communist style high rise apartment buildings look like they are growing up out of the cornfields. Trust me when I tell you that these buildings are better seen from afar.
This is the thing about Berlin for me: I am riding my bike through all this amazingly beautiful countryside and casually passing by other people doing the same and just enjoying being outside, and all of the sudden the historical significance of this amazing city and the lengths they have gone to in order to preserve that history, to remember their crappy past, and to move on and change just hit me. This is one of the reasons that I LOVE this city.
This sign is along a highway and reads:
"Hier waren Deutschland und Europa bis zum 30 June 1990 um 10 Uhr geteilt."
(This is where Germany and Europe was divided until June 30th 1990 around 10am.)
I for one, especially appreciate the precision knowing what TIME this happened that day.
I will certainly miss this bike path when we go home, as well as living in the middle of such a historically significant place.