Wonderwalls: Berlin

In the 13th century Berlin was a city enclosed by a wall; to separate it from neighboring Colln. By 1730 Berlin had grown beyond the city walls. There were alterations to walls locations and purpose. Walls were used for the collection of taxes and were known Exercise walls. Within the walls were gates (tors in German). An iconic gate, that was part of these walls was the Brandberg gate. When the Berlin wall was erected in 1961,  was obscured behind the wall. Consequently in 1989 when the wall separating East and West Germany was demolished the gate was the backdrop to many media reports. Nowadays crossing the road from the Brandberg gate there is a metal strip that indicates where the wall ran; which shows how close the wall ran to the Brandberg gate.

Following the line of the wall, after 5minutes there is the Holocaust Memorial.

Another day to remember the holocaust and some places dedicated to remembering (Boston, Prague, Austwich, Laxton)

It seems very natural to walk through Brandberg gate from East to West and vice versa and indeed cross where the wall formally ran without even noticing; it would be oppressive if the wall topped with barbed wire was still present. Some parts of the wall have been preserved for prosperity including plain rather ugly concrete sections as a reminder of the oppression but also some have preserved with added artwork. I did not get much chance to view the artwork as at the time it was raining. This blog has captured some of the images on the wall.

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Wonderwall: Someone else’s thoughts on Berlin including mentions of the wall.

I sheltered from the rain in the Checkpoint Charlie museum which documents the attempts made to cross the wall. What I don’t have a clear understanding of having visited this cosmopolitan, vibrant city is what life was life for average people living either side of the wall.

 

 

Wonderwall: Xian City Wall


A wall that just goes around part of the city Xian, which was formally the capital. Small enough,  circumference, that I cycled around it in an afternoon, with an ice cream as the reward after bumping around the cobbles on the bike. 


There is feng shui museum on part of the wall. Interesting metal signs and buildings to peer over the wall at and decorative building along the wall.  Probably did not need to ride the whole wall to see the sights but perversely it was good fun!

 

 

Wonderwall:Great Wall of China


As walls goes the Great Wall of China is probably the best known in the world, being the biggest in the world. So big, it can famously been seen from space. After hearing so much about the wall, it is amazing to be stood on it. You can stand and see ribbons of wall flowing over the undulating landscape beyond and behind. The wall does not run in a completely straight line and is broken up by different towers to explore and archways to cross under, revealing different snapshots of the wall beyond as you progress through.


I travelled from Beijing in September 2013 to see Mutianyu Great Wall. I took the cable car so that I could spend more time walking along the wall rather than spending time getting to it.

 

As well as seeing the grandeur of the wall, I managed to walk far enough to come to a part of the wall that was disintergrating which is a view of the wall that I had never seen before.When not gazing at the wall itself there is the, surrounding hills to look at.

Wonderwall: John Lennon Wall Prague

 

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The story I heard about the wall by someone, attempting to sell me a panoramic view of the wall as I crossed the Charles Bridge, started with a woman who used to sit in the doorway within the wall with a guitar singing Beatles songs. I was told She added the first art work of head shots of her self- portrait and portrait of John Lennon. Google searches about the history of the wall, has not verified the story of this. Internet pages tell of how after John’s Lennon’s death the wall became a focus for art / graffiti relating to the Beatles / John Lennon peace and anti-communism sort of like a Facebook wall in the era before internet, before people could create an image of themselves in a press of a button and post to their own wall. The panorama I was shown, showed the wall covered in colour, it included the supposed first art of the guitar lady and John Lennon and also the second which was the word Fred which means Peace in Norwegian.

On the following website http://www.absolutetours.com/blog/john-lennons-wall/ it details that the story of the wall started before John Lennon’s death; in the 60s and 70s when people wrote anti-communist messages on it, leading to it being termed the wailing wall. During communist times it was painted over at different times by communist regime including http://www.absolutetours.com/blog/john-lennons-wall/ mentions being painted green in 1981. The article goes on to describe the first time it was painted over, after the fall of communism in 2000. The article says it was painted white by art group Rafani, with just the word ‘love’ however elsewhere on the internet I have read it was painted green in 2000. Indeed I saw on this site http://www.paetau.com/downloads/Friends/Rafani.html it painted green with the Czech word for love; Laskia and explains it was painted green because the communist used green to paint over the wall.

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The internet seems to agree that On 17November2014 the wall was covered with white paint and just the words ‘War is over’ a twist of John Lennon’s Christmas song ‘Happy Christmas, war is over’. Students who claimed they were responsible for whitewashing the wall stated they did it to commemorate 25 years since the start of the Velvet Revolution in 1989.

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In between, the two post 1989 painting overs of the wall in 2000 and 2014 and since the wall constantly evolves with new additions, therefore it is a an attraction that is worth revisiting to see what has changed. Yes’s after painted self-portraits, selfies are now captured by tourists in front of the colorful wall or like I did photos of the wall are captured of that moment in the walls evolution. The colour is even starting to spread to a tree in front of the wall.

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I would certainly like to return in years times to see it. Plus as it is on the street is a free attraction, as long as you don’t get tempted on the Charles bridge to buy any souvenir. If I had visited prior to the Brexit vote, with a better exchange rate, I probably would have bought or if at the price it was I would have bought if the same seller had been there on my last day in Prague when I visited the wall for a second time. Between the first and the second time there was already changes unfortunately mainly just scribbles in green, but I’m sure by now there are new more edifying additions. On my second visit there was the bonus that a busker arrived singing Beatles songs.

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Food and drink delights in Prague

Top 3 attractions Prague

Best Hot Chocolate in Prague

 

The wall is less than 10minutes, from the Charles Bridge on the same side as Prague castle. The most direct route from Charles Bridge takes you past the John Lennon wall. The first time I saw it we arrived at the Malostranske namesti tram stop and it then took a while to find it but on the way we did find a café for hot chocolate. The area around Malostranske namesti tramnstop is interesting to walk around as there is Charles Bridges, restaurants, cafes, chocolate shops up the hill from the bridge wall is Prague castle. Prior to my second viewing of the wall  I had a Thai massage (ouch!) in an establishment that also had the fish for nibbling peoples feet ; other such establishments can be found around Prague. At the moment it would be the following trams to get to the area;12, 20, 22, 23.