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Trip Report Tips for visiting the Berlin Wall Memorial before May 4, 2015

I’ve just returned from my first visit to Berlin, Dresden and Prague. I’ll be posting a trip report soon, but that may take a couple weeks. In the meantime, I wanted to pass along some information for those of you planning to visit the Berlin Wall Memorial before May 4, 2015. I’m motivated to write this because current construction works on public transit lines caused me a few moments of uncertainty during my visit; hopefully this post will make your trip go a little more smoothly.

The Berlin Wall Memorial (www.berliner-mauer-gedenkstaette.de/en/ ) is located on a complex stretching 1.4 km along the former border strip. The site includes the last section of the Berlin Wall still with the original East German border defences. When I visited, although I had done a lot of pre-trip research, I was unaware of disruptions to S-Bahn service.

I attempted to reach the Memorial from Friedrichstrasse Station, but the aforementioned construction works made it a bit of an adventure to reach. The S1, S2 and S25 (north-south) lines are currently not running between Yorckstrasse and Gesundbrunnen. A temporary bus service is currently shuttling riders from Friedrichstrasse Station. (Handy red footprints on the sidewalk help you find the bus). I got off the bus at the corner of Bernauer Strasse and Brunnenstrasse, then walked down Bernauer Strasse, along the Memorial, for about 10 minutes until I reached Nordbahnhof. (Normally to reach the same point, you would just ride S1, S2 or S25 from Friedrichstrasse, which is just 2 stops away from Nordbahnhof).

Unfortunately, this was not the ideal direction in which to experience the Memorial, in my opinion. It would have been better if I had started at Nordbahnhof, visited the nearby Visitor Centre, viewed part of the wall, visited the Documentation Centre, then walked up to the U-station at Bernauer Strasse. Heading towards Nordbahnhof as I did, late in the afternoon less than an hour before closing, I only had time for a quick run up to the tower at the Docu Centre and a short viewing of the many videos on offer, before picking up several of their excellent brochures on my way out. In particular I’d recommend the 3 white brochures marked Sections A-C. They are an invaluable guide to the sights and markers you’ll see as you walk along the Memorial.

The visitor and documentation centres are open Tuesday to Sunday from 10-6. The open-air exhibition is open 24 hours a day all year round. I wandered around the open-air exhibition after dark. If you’re planning to do the same, I’d definitely recommend bringing a flashlight so you can see things better, or make sure your cell phone has a flashlight app. Admission to indoor and outdoor elements of the Memorial are all free of charge.

To leave the Memorial, I got on Tram M10 (which doesn’t go south from there) from Nordbahnhof and made the short trip up to Bernauer Strasse, where I got off and went down into the U station. Only one U-line goes through this station, the U8. Digital signs indicated that trains were running at 5 minute intervals on the Sunday evening I was there. I headed in the direction of Hermannstrasse. A 4-minute, 3-stop ride brought me to Alexanderplatz, which offered several transfer options.

These transit disruptions will end at 1:30am on Monday May 4, 2015.

The Memorial’s website notes 2 other potential ways to reach the site. Either take U6 to Naturkunde-Museum (followed by a 550m or 7 minute walk to Nordbahnhof – if I had to do it over again I would have followed this exact route). Other option is to walk 3 minutes from Naturkunde-Museum stop and pick up Bus 245 to Nordbahnhof.

One final resource I just now came upon as I was leafing through the brochures I picked up at the Documentation Centre: there is a ‘mobile tour guide’ for your smartphone available at www.berliner-mauer.mobi. It’s packed with information and 3 separate tours of the Memorial. Worth a look before or during your trip.

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