A Look At 1980’s Berlin: The Wall – Asisi Panorama
I’ve never been anywhere where the phrase ‘don’t judge a book by it’s cover’ has been more appropriate. From the outside, this place looks like a giant oil storage unit. In fact, if it weren’t for the epic PANORAMA > > signage, you definitely wouldn’t think there was anything in there other than…oil. But once you step inside, it’s an eye-opening exhibition about the Berlin Wall.
As I’d been heading to Checkpoint Charlie museum, I’d passed the giant oil drum and was intrigued. I often find great things just by being nosy, so crossed the road to have a closer look and saw that there was some kind of panoramic view of the wall. I was planning on a Berlin Wall-themed day anyway, so it sounded right up my street!
The inside of the building is split into two parts. Literally – there’s a big wall down the middle, creating two semi-circular rooms. Stepping in to find an overwhelmingly grey room, it is, on first impressions, ugly. The walls and floor are all concrete-grey, and graffiti covers absolutely everything – the walls, the floor, even the columns in the middle of the room. But upon closer inspection, the grey walls are covered with photos of people’s memories of the wall. And the graffiti is made up of messages left by people detailing what freedom means to them.
The photos along the wall tell the story of the Berlin Wall going up, everyday life while it was standing and later coming down, from the perspective of the people affected – citizens and tourists, as well as stills from a documentary made at the time. Those that have come from individuals have small captions with them, explaining what was going on in the photo, or the person’s reaction to the wall. It really adds an insight into life with the Berlin Wall, to see how it really affected people’s lives and became a part of their everyday normal.
The second room dedicates an entire curved wall to a photograph which gives you the perspective of someone standing on the west side of the wall. The panorama wraps the whole 180 degrees of the room, and there’s a viewing platform in the middle. From the floor, the panorama is impressive. However, from the viewing platform it’s absolutely amazing. The panorama looks 3D and gives you the feeling that you’re standing in West Berlin, looking out over the wall into East Berlin. The lights dim down every so often as if night is falling, and the sounds of everyday life and activities surrounding the wall play into the room.
As you scan the panorama, the sight of people touching the wall jump out at you, as well as shops, bars, a petrol station, people walking and other everyday, ordinary things happening in West Berlin. In stark contrast, the east side shows a distinct lack of life. There are guard towers, death strips, security lighting and windows boarded up everywhere. No people are visible, or any evidence of life as there is in the west.
The small pamphlet given with the tickets explains what’s going on, and what everything is. But the real magic and impact of the wall can’t be explained, and it definitely cannot be photographed. If you’re interested in the life cycle and effect of the wall, and want to see it from the eyes of normal people in Berlin, I would definitely recommend a visit here.
Find it at: Friedrichstraße 205, 10117 Berlin, Germany Website: www.asisi.de Ticket price can be found on the website, and you’ll get a discount if you have the Berlin Welcome Card.
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