Designs projected on the Oberbaum Bridge during the yearly Festival of Lights
An old bridge in a new light

Berlin Festival of Lights

The double-decker Oberbaum Bridge is one of Berlin's most beloved and iconic landmarks. This centuries-old span once connected two boroughs separated by the Berlin Wall, the barrier that physically and ideologically divided East and West Berlin from 1961 to 1989. The first bridge in this spot was built in the 1700s, although the current road-and-rail Oberbaum was constructed at the end of the 19th century.

It remains an important symbol of unified Berlin, and a prominently featured landmark in the city's annual, weeklong Festival of Lights, which begins today. The international festival, now in its 18th year, transforms Berlin's buildings and landmarks with artful displays of light, as colors, patterns, and images are projected onto structures across the city. Here we see the Oberbaum all lit up for the 2020 festival—a far cry from its Cold War days. For nearly 30 years, the bridge served as a border crossing between East and West Berlin. It became the end of the train lines as a checkpoint was installed and the historic towers were demolished. But after German reunification in 1990, the bridge was rebuilt and restored to its former glory—a fitting fate for a landmark that has transformed along with the city it serves.