BERLIN – The Berlin Wall's longest remaining stretch has been restored to its state of nearly two decades ago after artists repainted the colorful murals they created in the aftermath of the notorious barrier's opening.
Berlin on Friday inaugurated the restored section of the concrete wall, which is known as the East Side Gallery and snakes along the bank of the Spree river for three quarters of a mile.
A popular tourist attraction, it boasts famous imagines such as a boxy East German Trabant car that appears to burst through the wall; and a fraternal communist kiss between Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev and his East German counterpart, Erich Honecker.
The painted wall "is a document that allows future generations to picture for themselves ... what the wall meant," Mayor Klaus Wowereit said at an inauguration ceremony.
The section was transformed into an open-air gallery months after communist East Germany opened its borders on Nov. 9, 1989. Much of the rest of the wall was quickly ripped down.
The East Side Gallery survived but was an increasingly sad sight in recent years, with crumbling concrete and peeling paint. Over the past year, nearly 90 artists from around the world gathered again to repaint their original creations.
The artists "have conveyed a second time their genuine euphoria from 1990," said Kani Alavi, who heads the East Side Gallery Artists' Association and was a driving force behind the restoration.
"Twenty years after the fall of the wall, the East Side Gallery stands for democracy and human rights," he said.
"Every (artist) had his own perceptions on the fall of the wall," Wowereit said. "I think this international nature, these different points of view and this variety are a secret of the success of this great open-air exhibition."
Berlin's city government helped fund the restoration costs of more than $3 million.