Invisible Border: Walking the Berlin Wall

A guided walk along the Berlin Wall Trail from Bornholmer Straße to Hauptbahnhof...

WallWalk1

The Berlin Wall was – in the words of British Labour leader Hugh Gaitskell – an “extraordinary phenomenon”. It remains, in its absence, extraordinary to this day; as a site of memory that is also a bike path, a memorial where people walk their dogs or commute to work, and a structure that – with a few notable exceptions – barely exists beyond memory and imagination, and yet continues to shape the landscape of the city and the lives of those who live in it.

On this walk we will follow the trail for seven kilometres, from Bornholmer Straße where the first checkpoint was opened on that memorable night in 1989 to the Hauptbahnhof, one of the more visible symbols of reunification and the “New Berlin” that has emerged over the past two decades.

Along the way we will walk through the Mauerpark, along Bernauer Straße – and stories of dramatic and tragic escapes across the border – to the Wall Memorial, and then through the Park am Nordbahnhof to the backstreets between Mitte and Wedding, where we will discover remnants not only of the Wall but of Berlin’s industrial past and explore the city’s 21st Century present and future.

We will pass a former guard tower that now houses a memorial to Günther Litfin, the first person to be shot and killed attempting to cross the border, and finish on the banks of the Spree, in sight of the new government district built to mark Berlin’s return not only as capital but also seat of government of reunified Germany.  The tour will reflect not only on the history of the Berlin Wall but also its legacy as the Mauerweg, tracing the invisible border

About the Tour Leader

Paul Scraton is the co-author of Mauerweg: Stories from the Berlin Wall Trail, published by Slow Travel Berlin, and this walk reflects a long standing interest in the history of the divided city that resulted in the Traces of a Border project, collecting stories from the entire length of the Berlin Wall Trail. Paul is the editor in chief of Elsewhere: A Journal of Place and has lived in Berlin, within walking distance of the former border, for fifteen years. His personal website is Under a Grey Sky.

Pricing

€20 per person for 2-3 hours. Private tours and groups can be arranged in advance.

Group Size

2-6

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Reviews

  1. Gudrun Will says:

    Paul’s tour was an excellent experience, and a wonderful way to acknowledge the anniversary of the wall’s demise. Not only was Paul a highly knowledgeable guide on every aspect of the wall’s creation and history, he was extremely generous with his time and efforts in answering our questions. If you have any interest in the formerly divided city of Berlin, and the effects of the wall to this day, don’t miss this tour as a way to deepen your knowledge, as well as to see where it once stood and where various historic events happened. The tour is also a great way to explore back corners of the city that you’d be unlikely to stumble across yourself. Thank you for a fascinating day out, Paul! I highly recommend your Wall Walk, and look forward to catching your Wedding Walk next time I’m in Berlin.

  2. Rosemarie Allemann says:

    I can only second Gudrun’s comments. I would also highly recommend Paul Scraton’s tour. Despite the fact that I lived through the period when the Wall was in place, and then watched the events unfolding when it came down, there were many details and aspects Paul pointed out that I was unaware of. He gave us an excellent combination of historical facts and personal stories, putting it all into context. Thanks for an enjoyable and instructive tour, Paul.

  3. IngeborgDB says:

    Although I’ve been to Berlin numerous times and I’ve read up on the history of the city and its wall, I wanted to take a guided tour in light of the 25 Years Mauerfall.
    As I’m already convinced of the high quality of the @slowberlin activities (book, info on the website) I chose the Walking the Invisible Trail tour and was happy to find a free spot. Booking on the website was easy and straightforward, followed by a quick feedback and info on the practical side of the walk.
    Then the tour starts: I meet Paul Scraton and the other participants (we’re 6 in total) and we dive into the history of the wall.
    And Paul tells great stories: historical facts and personal stories. For the first time I realize what the wall meant to people in the East as well as in the West.
    The info I got on this walk can’t be found in books, leaflets or websites and that’s what excited me most.
    Thank you for a great walk, Paul, and keep telling these stories.

  4. Todd says:

    Paul’s Berlin Wall tour was exceptional. His stories are both historical and personal, and he weaves the entire narrative together very well to give a good perspective of what life was like for the people on either side of the Wall. The route is well laid out, not just following the Wall, but traversing through interesting points in history, and seeing unique and off-the-beaten-path parts of Berlin. It was also very refreshing to have a small group for the tour, while our group passed a number of other tour groups, the lack of headsets, ridiculous flags, or tour guides yelling for the crowd to hear made the trip exceptionally intimate and more impactful. This tour was a hit with the whole family, and was a great value for the cost.

  5. I can only echo what most people have said here. Paul is an excellent guide, extremely knowledgeable and very friendly. I’ve also been in Berlin many times, lived there for a while, and I still learned quite a bit on that tour. Highly recommended!

  6. Florian Klages says:

    Short review: we absolutely loved it!

    Long review: Considering the fact that Paul had to take on a challenge with us – we were 4 Germans, two of which living in Berlin for 8 years and one former West-German Border-Guard – he mastered it very well. So well, that I was thanked several times throughout the weekend and everyone made it clear that Paul’s tour was the highlight. Fascinating insights into the city we live in and from an expert’s point of view, what more can you wish for in such a tour?

    We’re looking forward to the next tour with Paul and the Slow Travel Berlin Team!

  7. Jason Brackenbury says:

    Paul is a natural story teller. His perfectly balanced mix of general facts and human interest stories meant that 3 hours walking the tour trail went in a flash. My first visit to Berlin but certainly not my last, thanks to the interest created by Paul’s tour. I highly recommend adding this tour to the agenda of any weekend in Berlin. Thanks Paul.

  8. Caileigh says:

    The Berlin Wall tour with Paul was a treat. He told so many fascinating stories along the route, about the Wall itself and about life on each side of the divide. The architectural differences he pointed out between the neighbourhoods formerly separated by the wall were so interesting. He was also very sympathetic about my small bladder – I know every bathroom along the Berlin Wall trail now!

    Thanks so much, Paul!

  9. I went on the same tour as Caileigh and it was a fantastic experience. We all met by the 9th November Memorial at Bornholmer Strasse where Paul gave us a great talk with plenty of history and personal stories thrown in. From there we followed the route of the wall along the railway line into Prenzlauer Berg. I’ll never forgot Paul showing us some really run down GDR-era houses that were side-by-side with modern day apartments when we stopped off at a little cafe. From there we went through Mauerpark which is a place I’d only ever heard about until then. Paul told so many brilliant stories that I wondered how he remembered them all! When the tour finished Paul made sure we all knew how to get home or back to wherever we wanted to be. He is a brilliant storyteller and guide and it was one of the lasting memories of my holiday. I went on another STB tour of Prenzlauer Berg the next day, so STB definitely made my holiday. I learnt so much. Thanks Paul. Sorry the review is a bit late!

  10. Mike W says:

    A fantastic tour! Paul’s a talented guide who provides lots of historical detail, but he also maintains a narrative arc full of human stories throughout the walk. Even on a rather cold and gray February day, I wouldn’t have asked for the tour to be a minute shorter because the content is so engaging. There’s lots of opportunity for informal Q & A throughout, too.

  11. Mai says:

    Thoroughly enjoyed our walk with Paul today and found him an excellent guide, historian and raconteur. He offers a huge amount of information but all retold in an engaging way and with numerous stories, including personal tales from his wife’s German family, which brings it all to life. So glad that we decided to do the tour as we walked through areas which we probably would not have found ourselves. Book it! you will enjoy!

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