What if you were told there was another Berlin Wall that no-one visits?
There are very few first-time visitors to Berlin who leave the city without seeing the Berlin Wall. That cold, grey, concrete fault-line between East and West, Communist and Capitalist, dictatorship and democracy……the defining symbol of the Cold War.
Maybe you would think that after living in Berlin for 7 years one would be sick of walls…not Birchy. I cannot get enough but that is the archaeologist talking now. Is it possible to have a favorite wall? Maybe, but there is one particular wall that is close to my heart in this city. If it is possible to feel a little sorry for a wall then, for this wall I do.
Let me introduce you to the Original Berlin Wall. S
The Original Berlin Wall
Maybe you are a little bit disappointed but it really is an incredible wall for a number of reasons.
Firstly, it is the oldest up-standing structure in Berlin, thought to have been constructed c 1250 AD. So it predates the iconic Berlin Wall which we readily recognize by approximately 700 years.
Whilst its much-younger sibling was constructed (first phase in 1961) to stem the flow of East German refugees (or to keep the fascists from the west out if you took the line of the Polit Büro in East Germany) this one was constructed as part of the medieval city defenses.
And it is a survivor…it withstood the great fires of 1376, 1380, the multiple periods of destruction during the 30 Years War (1618-1648) and the destruction during the Second World War .
The actual fragment we see today was infact not discovered until 1952! when the rubble was being cleared from the destroyed building which had built against and over the wall after it fell into dis-use and was mostly dismantled!!
In all, it is thought that the wall stretched for a distance of approximately 3.5 km (check) and probably would have stood 5 – 6m tall. We can get some idea of how it looked from the surviving city maps/plans as well as contemporary artwork. Also the smaller towns outside Berlin like Jüterborg and Bernau have a lot more of there medieval fabric surviving.
A plan of Medieval Berlin showing the position of the wall fragment
If you are interested in seeing what surprisingly survives from medieval Berlin and are interested in the early history of the city join us on one of our In the Beginning: Berlin which deals with this fascinating but overlooked chapter in the cities history.