Illusions of grandeur? Marzahn's swankiest apartments

Europe's largest mural adorns a group of GDR-era apartment blocks in Berlin's Mahrzahn

With their wrought iron balconies, statue-flanked doorways and elegant stucco, these swish apartments are a match for Berlin's most desirable homes - a fact that's particularly striking given their location in the heart of Marzahn-Hellersdorf, a suburb far better known for its endless, GDR-era concrete tower blocks.

But take another look, and you'll realise it's all quite literally a facade - a spectacular mural which, at 64,000 square metres in size, also happens to be Europe's largest artwork.

Just an illusion - detail of a mural on a housing block in Berlin's Mahrzahn district
Is this really Berlin's Mahrzahn? A mural painting project designed to breathe new life into an area better known for its 'Plattenbau' concrete tower blocks
Incredible detail on a Berlin wall mural - Europe's largest -  adorning a GDR-era housing block

The project was completed in 2008, an attempt by developers to prove that even Berlin's dreariest housing could be transformed - with a lick or two of carefully applied paint - into des-res accommodation.

And as the before and after images below clearly show, the massive trompe l'oeil make-over was certainly effective.

Changing Berlin - before and after images of a gigantic mural project designed to revitalise one of Berlin's poorest  city suburbs

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Detail of wall mural, 'Europa Viertel' Berlin, Marzahn
Trompe l'oeil facade on a row of apartments in Berlin's Marzahn

If, however, you'd rather experience the real Marzahn, the surrounding estates (below) provide a startlingly extensive example of late 20th century socialist architecture and planning.

Typical GDR-era 'Plattenbau' - or prefab concrete tower blocks - in Berlin's Marzahn district

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Not, perhaps, a district that will ever rank among Berlin's most popular tourist destinations, but one which (quite apart from its historical importance as a GDR-era urban enclave) harbours a surprising number of unexpected highlights. Including, of course, a make-believe neoclassical boulevard on the edge of a busy highway.

See also:
A country village in Marzahn
Berlin's first socialist tower block

GDR shopping

Europe's largest mural on the 'Europa Viertel' painted apartment blocks: Stendaler Straße / corner Quedlinburger Straße 12627 Berlin

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