#FreiheitBerlin goes Madrid

Openness, creativity, and a lively cultural scene connect Madrid and Berlin. The two capitals have been sister cities for 30 years, but their current freedom was once not something that could be taken for granted. 

Rainbow flags fly all over the Spanish capital each summer to mark the Pride Madrid festival, especially in Chueca, a district known for its lively gay scene. Rainbows adorn house façades, stretch across boulevards as colorful banners, and flutter in the wind as countless flags and pennants. Once again this year, the LGBTQ community will come from all over the world to Madrid in late June to party and also discuss tolerance and acceptance at various conferences and seminars. Less than a month later, it will be Berlin's chance to let loose as colorfully decorated cars roll from Ku'damm past the Victory Column on the way to the Brandenburg Gate to the beats of loud techno music to mark Christopher Street Day. And it's not just the LGBTQ community, but also local residents and tourists who join in on the lively celebrations. A joyful commitment to freedom. 

Berlin and Madrid have been twin cities for 30 years. They signed the paperwork establishing their sisterhood November 4, 1988, less than a year before the fall of the Berlin Wall and 14 years after the death of Spanish dictator Francisco Franco. At that time, both metropolises were still scarred by dictatorship and division. Today, they are united by a free spirit which especially finds its expression in the cities' lively cultural landscapes. Berlin and Madrid are once again cosmopolitan cities with a flair that attracts people from all over the world. By 2010, one in six residents of Madrid were originally from another country, while Berlin is home to people from 190 different countries. Nevertheless, or perhaps even for that very reason, people get along, living peacefully with their neighbors.


Freedom, Sancho, is one of the most precious gifts that heaven has bestowed upon us. No treasures that the earth holds buried or the sea conceals can compare with it.
Miguel de Cervantes/„Don Quijote de la Mancha“

Creativity expresses the multiple layers of the two cities' diversity and openness, whether in world-famous museums such as the Prado or the Alte Nationalgalerie, strolling along the famous Paseo del Arte in Madrid, or browsing Berlin's regular Gallery Weekend. It is no coincidence that cultural exchange between Berlin and Madrid has been a particular focus of the cities' thirty years of sisterhood. One highlight this year: Berlin will be the focus of the Madrid's annual Architecture Week this October.  Berlin also regularly hosts the Rencontres Internationales Paris/Berlin/Madrid/RI. This international film festival offers less well-known artists from the fields of film, video, installation art, performance art, and multimedia the opportunity to present their work to a worldwide audience.

Musicians from the two cities founded the Philharmonic Society Madrid-Berlin in January 2006. Top-class ensembles from both cities regularly play together as part of the initiative, to the delight of audiences in both Berlin and Madrid. In the scientific field, Madrid's Politécnica and Autónoma Universities engage in intensive project exchange with Humboldt University and Freie Universität in Berlin, further underscoring the principle of academic freedom.

The two sister cities are marking the 30th anniversary of their relationship in a very special way this year. On June 21, Michael Müller, the Governing Mayor of Berlin, is hosting "#FreiheitBerlin goes Madrid" in the Spanish capital. The Parque de Berlin in the district of Chamartín is the perfect ambience for such a gathering, containing as it does three original, graffiti-covered fragments of the Berlin Wall. They stand as memorials and warnings to remind visitors that the freedom that characterizes life in Berlin and Madrid today was not something that could be taken for granted in the not too distant past.   


Top: Biniam Ghezai©Madrid Destino
Center left/right: César Lucas Abreu©Madrid Destino
Center large: Biniam Ghezai ©Madrid Destino
Down left: César Lucas Abreu©Madrid Destino
Down right: Elena Almagro©Madrid Destino
Down large: César Lucas Abreu©Madrid Destino


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