Street Art Tours in Berlin

Posted: February 3, 2012 in Germany
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The streets of Berlin are full of street art and graffiti – it’s one of the things that I love most about the city. I like both, but I prefer street art, as to me graffiti always seems to be a bit territorial, and all it seems to be doing is shouting ‘look at me!’, but street art usually wants to say something and make you think. Graffiti is tags and scrawls – sometimes the tags are elaborate and multi-coloured and can take days to put up, sometimes they are literally writing on a wall. Street art, on the other hand, is generally stencil based or done at home and then pasted up in the chosen location. This can be done very quickly indeed – all the better for avoiding being caught by the police.

There are all kinds of tours to take around Berlin – you can take tours in a Trabant, comedy coach tours and slightly icky pub crawls. When I was last in Berlin a few months ago, I found a walking tour that focused on street art called The Experience Alternative Berlin Tour. Berlin’s always been a great city for artists – there are legal graffiti zones, weekly art and craft fairs and flea markets where creatives can sell their wares and small, independent galleries everywhere.

The Experience Alternative Berlin tour is free and you can join it every day at 11am and 1pm outside Starbucks in Alexanderplatz. It lasted about three hours and took us around places like Tacheles (the famous artists’ squat in an old department store), the Eastside gallery and the YAAM beach bar.

Probably one of the reasons that these tours have become popular here is that recently Germany launched a new visa for Americans called an Artist Visa, which allows them to stay and work in the country – as long as their work is art-related. I enjoyed hearing about the history of some of the pieces and learn about the artists, and it also helped me find some graffiti hot spots that I’d not even discovered, even though I used to live in Berlin.

Here are photos of some of my favourite pieces from the walk. Sadly, I imagine that even though my trip to Berlin wasn’t so long ago, these have probably all vanished from the city’s walls by now. Graffiti and street art have depressingly short life spans.

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