For 28 years, the Berlin Wall cast its ominous shadow over residents of East and West Berlin, and next month a lichtgrenze, or light frontier, created with 8,000 illuminated balloons, will mark the celebration of the 25th anniversary since the wall's destruction.
The Berlin Wall was built in post-war 1961 as a border to separate Berlin's occupied zones, one side controlled by an Allied West Germany, the other by the Soviet Union. The Wall quickly became the definitive symbol of the Cold War era, as its Orwellian presence loomed over the world, representative of the collectively feared threat of communism.
Beginning November 7th, glowing balloons will stretch 9 miles along the former divide, strung along Berlin's many monuments and attractions such as the Brandenburg gate and Checkpoint Charlie. Along the balloon path, visitors can read stories of those who attempted to cross the border, providing a detailed look at life and struggles of Berlin's citizens before the fall of the wall in 1989.
A variety of events and celebrations will be held throughout the city as well, including cycling tours along the wall trail, and tours of former watchtowers and checkpoints. The Kunstmeile, roughly translated as "art-mile", bordering the river Spree, is the largest remaining segment of the Berlin Wall, and upon its fall, was painted by 118 artists hailing from 21 different countries, to create a mixed-media collaborative mural, representing the many political events that once divided Germany's capital. During the 2-day anniversary celebration, guided tours of the "art-mile", will be held, where visitors are invited to reflect on the former division, and learn of Berlin's storied past, told through a variety of artistic styles and themes.
On the final day of the installation, November 9th, the balloons will be released into the air simultaneously as a "symbol of hope for a world without walls", backed by the sounds of the Staatskapelle Berlin Orchestra performing Beethoven's 9th symphony at the Brandenburg Gate, and if the weather permits, the release of all 8,000 illuminated balloons will be visible from outer-space. Leading up to the take down of the Berlin Wall, East German citizens would gather for demonstrations in public squares - on a few occasions upwards of 300,000 people protested - demanding their freedom and re-unification into West German society by lighting candles, and the 8,000 illuminated balloons are meant to honor that gesture.
There is no better time to travel to Berlin than now, not only does Autumn mark the beginning of the tourism off-season, saving you the hassle of navigating through swaths of tourists, but you can participate in the cities epic 25th anniversary celebration of the fall of The Berlin Wall, basking in the glow of positive energy, and togetherness akin to no other.