15 Surprising Places to See the Berlin Wall

Los Angeles, California, is home to several segments of the Berlin Wall.
Los Angeles, California, is home to several segments of the Berlin Wall. / Sharon VanderKaay, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

On August 13, 1961, construction began on the Berlin Wall, a roughly 96-mile-long barrier that, when complete, split East and West Germany. The wall stood for 28 years before falling on November 9, 1989. People began chipping away bits of the 54,000 concrete slabs that made up the wall, and pieces became sought-after collectors’ items. Here are 15 surprising places where segments of the Berlin Wall stand today.

1. DiMillo’s on the Water // Portland, Maine, United States

Three pieces of the Berlin Wall were offered to Tony DiMillo, the original owner of this Maine restaurant, though no one remembers who gave them or how that initial gifter got them. They were installed on the Long Wharf promenade just outside the restaurant in 1996.

2. Men’s Bathroom, Main Street Casino, Brewery & Hotel // Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.

A casino bathroom is certainly an unexpected place to find a piece of the once-formidable Berlin Wall.
A casino bathroom is certainly an unexpected place to find a piece of the once-formidable Berlin Wall. / Fuzzy Gerdes, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Here's another case of “no one can explain why it’s here.” Perhaps the most unexpected spot to find a piece of the Berlin Wall is in the men’s room at this Las Vegas casino. The wall is encased in glass with urinals mounted on it (so no, despite what many think beforehand, you can’t pee on it, which was illegal to do in East Germany while it was standing). A security guard will take patrons of all genders into the restroom when it’s empty so anyone can view this oddly-placed piece of the wall.

3. The Janco Dada Museum // Tel Aviv, Israel

This isn’t the Dada Museum’s normal art installation, but this piece of the wall was brought to the museum in 1992 as part of an exhibition on the history of life in East Berlin. There were many objections within Tel Aviv to the exhibition, given the fraught history of Germany and the Israeli Jewish settlers, many of whom survived the Holocaust. The museum’s directors decided that, given the Dadaist movement’s anti-war stance, there was a connection between the two and decided to hold the exhibition. This piece of the wall stands outside the museum and is dedicated to those murdered in the Holocaust.

4. Gangwon DMZ Museum // Gangwon Province, South Korea

Two pieces of the Berlin Wall sit outside the DMZ Museum, which located is in the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea. It seems fitting that pieces of the wall are here, in an area that's been split since 1945; they stand as a reminder—and a hope—that these two countries can one day be reunited as the two Germanies were.

5. East Side Gallery // Berlin, Germany

My God, Help Me to Survive This Deadly Love, pictured in 2005.
My God, Help Me to Survive This Deadly Love, pictured in 2005. / Victorgrigas, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Not all of the Berlin Wall was fully dismantled—in fact, some still remains in the German city. The largest intact piece, eight-tenths of a mile long, sits in its original location at what’s now the longest open-air gallery in the world. It was transformed into a work of art by 118 artists from 21 countries after the wall at large fell. The murals are on the east side of the barrier, which was off limits before reunification. Perhaps the most famous mural, My God, Help Me to Survive This Deadly Love by Soviet artist Dmitri Vrubel, depicts General Secretary of the Soviet Union Leonid Brezhnev embraced in a passionate kiss with Erich Honecker, former leader of East Germany.

6. The Gardens of Vatican City // Rome, Italy

This piece of the wall was a gift from Marco Piccininni, an Italian industrial heir and the finance minister of Monaco, to Pope John Paul II; Piccininni purchased it at an auction in Monte Carlo in 1990, and it was placed in the gardens at Vatican City in 1994. The Polish-born John Paul II was a tireless anti-communism campaigner, and former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev admitted that the fall of communism would not have happened without John Paul II’s influence. Admission starts at $27.

7. The Wende Museum // Los Angeles, California, U.S.

This 10-segment section of the Berlin Wall is the longest piece of the barrier displayed outside Germany, and was installed to commemorate the 20th anniversary of its fall. The mural features original Cold War graffiti plus new murals specially commissioned for the anniversary, including ones by Frenchman Thierry Noir, believed to be the first artist to paint the wall while living in West Berlin. Known and emerging artists were invited to contribute murals to commemorate its function as a place for political and personal expression.

8. Kowsky Plaza // New York, New York, U.S.

A piece of the Berlin Wall in New York City.
A piece of the Berlin Wall in New York City. / pyc Carnoy, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

Noir used pieces of the wall to change what he saw as its message of war into a message of hope. The giant head seen here is easily identifiable as one of Noir’s oft-repeated Heads paintings. The German consulate gave this slab to the Battery Park City Authority in 2004, on the 15th anniversary of the wall coming down, in recognition of the latter organization's commitment to education through public art.

9. Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park, Imperial War Museum // London, England

The Imperial War Museum acquired this slab, painted with a large, distorted face, open mouth, and the words “change your life,” in 1991 as part of its collection; it sits outside the building in the Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park. East German-born artist Jürgen Grosse, who also goes by the name “Indiano,” painted 223 individual sections of the wall after its fall in just seven months. His work can also be seen on the mural on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles.

10. Mandela Rhodes Foundation // Cape Town, South Africa

President Nelson Mandela was given a piece of the wall in 1996 by the city of Berlin while on a state visit to Germany. Mandela was released from prison in February 1990, three months after the wall fell. Both nations tackled decades of division and strife to build new futures through massive social transformation, and the slab of the Berlin Wall standing outside the Mandela Rhodes Foundation reflects this tie between the two countries.

11. National Churchill Museum // Fulton, Missouri. U.S.

Winston Churchill delivered what became known as his “Iron Curtain” speech at Westminster College in 1946 after an invitation from President Harry S. Truman. The college later created the Churchill Museum on its campus. In 1990, Churchill’s granddaughter Edwina Sandys, an artist, presented the museum with Breakthrough, her sculpture made out of eight sections of the wall. It features two tall figures carved out of the graffitied slabs, representing freedom. Admission starts at $12.

12. Kalijodo Park // Jakarta, Indonesia

Kalijodo Park has four pieces of the Berlin Wall.
Kalijodo Park has four pieces of the Berlin Wall. / Johnstad Di Maria, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 4.0

One of the last places you’d expect to find a piece of the Berlin Wall is a former red-light district in Indonesia. Kalijodo Park features an installation of the Berlin wall by artist Teguh Ostenrik. Titled A Statue Crossing Boundaries, it consists of four pieces of the wall surrounded by steel sculptures representing the human spirit. Ostenrik studied art in West Berlin in the 1980s before the wall fell and knew immediately he wanted to bring pieces of it back to Indonesia. The slabs remained in his studio for many years until a change in government in 2017 meant he finally had permission create his vision.

13. Europos Parkas // Vilnius, Lithuania

A piece of the Berlin Wall stands in Europos Parkas, the Open-Air Museum of the Centre of Europe. The museum, which sits in the geographic center of the European continent, was founded in 1991 by Lithuanian sculptor Gintaras Karosas to highlight the best of Lithuanian and international modern art. The German embassy in Lithuania and the Goethe Institute donated a piece of the Berlin Wall to the city of Vilnius on the 20th anniversary of the fall, and it stands today as a symbol of a united Europe. Admission starts at $13.

14. Dallas Hotel Anatole // Dallas, Texas, U.S.

The hotel, developed by real estate magnate Trammell Crow, features part of the extensive art collection that he and his wife Margaret amassed. Among their treasures are two 12-foot tall, 4-foot wide pieces of the Berlin Wall, which sit in the hotel’s Trinity Corridor. These slabs, like many others around the world, were also painted by Grosse and feature political graffiti and his signature distorted faces, with one of the slabs urging “Act Up! Now.”

15. Höfði House // Reykjavik, Iceland

American president Ronald Reagan and Soviet premiere Mikhail Gorbachev met in Iceland in 1986 for a political summit that many believe marked the beginning of the end of the Cold War. The slab, given to Reykjavik by the German Art Centre Neu West Berlin, was unveiled on German National Day, October 3, 25 years after Germany’s reunification. It was placed in front of Höfði house, where the two men met in what was called the Reykjavik Summit.