Spilling out of the Eastern Comfort hostel, which floats on Berlin’s river Spree, a gaggle of Spanish tourists in town for a week of clubbing poses for the customary snapshots at one of the city’s most iconic images. The painted mural of former Soviet and East German leaders Leonid Brezhnev and Eric Honecker in a passionate clinch is one of the star attractions of the East Side Gallery, the longest-remaining stretch of Berlin Wall and the second-most visited site in Berlin.
But the 1.3km-long outdoor gallery, which is covered in paintings by artists from around the world, is now threatened by the city’s strident advance of gentrification, with a significant section of it due to be dismantled soon to make way for a luxury block of flats.
“Our guide book describes it as an unbroken length of wall,” said Coco García López, a 21-year-old art student from Madrid. But the gallery, she notes, already has a gaping hole after a 50-metre section was removed some years ago to provide access to a boat landing stage and an open view on the river for the 02 World arena, which dominates the land adjacent to the gallery. “If Berlin’s not careful, it will lose all of this beautiful structure,” she said.
by Kate Connolly in Berlin