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A Day at the Mauerpark, Berlin

BERLIN, GERMANY - Each Sunday since 2004, the Mauerpark (as seen in photos 1-15) features an enormous flea market attended by thousands of people. The atmosphere is relaxed yet busy—some people mill about in random fashion as others eagerly seek out a desired treasure. Over the lunch hour, the alleys between stands become jam-packed with crowds and vendors selling sandwiches and fresh fruit juices. The scent of brick-oven pizza competes with all other oversaturated senses. Adjacent to the flea market is a large stone amphitheater (photo 1), where onlookers relax in the sun, and watch performances such as the popular public Bearpit Karaoke shows that have been taking place regularly since 2009. Mauerpark is arguably one of the most vibrant places where art, craft, culture, and creativity converge in Berlin.

The Mauerpark (“wall park”) is located in the heart of Berlin, and is the site of several remnants of the Berlin wall that once divided this city into two distinct halves (as seen in photos 2-5). Graffiti artists have spray-painted the wall for years, and the layers of paint are several inches thick. Not a single surface is missed—even the trashcans are spray-painted. Years of creative expression are layered on this surface of living history, a fitting setting for a flea market hosting an eclectic mix of antique and contemporary objects.

Upon entering the park, it is easy to get overwhelmed by the variety of items for sale: mechanical toys, leather bags from the early 1900s, trendy purses (photos 6-7), record collections, rings with hand drawn illustrations (photo 8), vintage knit sweaters, patchwork (photo 9), sculpted wooden toys, comics books, elegant armchairs and glass armoires arranged in a living-room fashion, one-of-a-kind designer clothing created by Berlin artists (photo 10), used bicycles and musical instruments at various stages of life, painted ceramic knobs for kitchen cupboards with equally mesmerizing dishes to match (photo 11), iPhone cases painted with the iconic Berlin Fernsehturm (photo 12), and perhaps my favorite—knit hats with a sign reading “you can pay what you want” (photo 13).  As with any flea market, it is quite likely that you will find something that you had only imagined and had always wished would exist in reality.

Though all flea markets are known for their unexpected treasures, the Mauerpark yielded several particularly special items on my last visit– such as a green one-piece suit that has an uncanny resemblance to the costume worn by Le Petit Prince, a vintage globe featuring constellations of the stars, a suede bag hand-painted by a local Berlin artist, and a colorful paper mâché dragon with a captivating bobblehead  (photo 14) whose purchase was accompanied by lively Peruvian folk music played by several jovial men on guitar.

The atmosphere of inclusiveness sets Mauerpark apart from other flea markets: though the historic Berlin Wall was once a symbol of separation, today the Mauerpark brings together the community in a weekly celebration of diversity. Like much of Berlin, what you find at the Mauerpark is a melting pot of old and new—a place where cultures and ideas can find new ways to blend. 

Photo 1 by Alexander Puell 

Photos 2-15 courtesy of Alena Giesche