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The Berlin Wall Goes Online

DW staff / AFP (nda)
July 16, 2005

Although very little remains of the Berlin Wall, a new government Web site details where visitors can find parts of the despised Cold War barrier and many other remnants of the city's divided past.

Tourists can come face to face with the Berlin Wall via the new Web siteImage: AP

Most of the actual Berlin Wall has been consigned to the dustbin of history, but now, the structure lives on -- on the Internet.

Tourists disappointed at finding little of the despised barrier left in the German capital can now trace its path on www.stadtentwicklung.berlin.de, complete with maps and photographs.

The site, launched by the Berlin government, details the history of the Wall from its construction in August 1961, when the communist East German authorities closed the border to stop a mass exodus, to its fall in a peaceful resolution in November 1989.

Berlin Mauer Jahrestag
Image: AP

Amid the ensuing euphoria most of the Wall was destroyed, sold off or picked apart by souvenir hunters. But in 2001, the Senate Department for Urban Development began creating the "Berlin Wall Route" project to make the entire 160 km route the barrier took through the city accessible to pedestrians and cyclists.

Walking tour follows route of the Wall

The website pinpoints the few parts of the city that still have slabs or watchtowers left intact, as well as memorials built to those killed trying to escape to the West, all of which are detailed on the maps and historical sections of the website.

Galerie Berliner Mauer: Propaganda hier wie da
Image: AP

The site also details surviving statues and buildings on both sides of the old divide which represent the diversity of a city that was in effect split into two very different worlds.

Soviet style monuments erected to the comradeship forged through collective hard work can still be found in many areas of the former East Berlin while contrasting western architecture can often be found at the other end of the very same street.

Contrasts of east and west still visible

60 Jahre Danach - Bildgalerie - Berlin 16/20
Image: dpa

Tours of the eastern part of the city featured on the site highlight the divided capital's mixed styles combining a trip down the Stalinallee, "the first socialist main thoroughfare in Germany" with a stroll through the Hansa district, the "display window of the free world."

Visitors planning their trip to the German capital can find out all about the history of the city beforehand and can take advantage of the Department for Urban Development's range of walking tours through the historically rich areas of Berlin on arrival.

Facing an uncomfortable past

"We want to make this information about the Wall available to as many people as possible, not only in Berlin but around the world," Berlin's top official for city development, Ingeborg Junge-Reyer, said in a statement. "We also want to encourage citizens' interest in their city and its sometimes uncomfortable past."