[Video] The biggest fake building in the world is in Berlin

[Video] The biggest fake building in the world is in Berlin

Despite being one of the safest and greenest districts of the German capital, Marzahn-Hellersdorf still has a bad reputation. The district is mostly associated with massive tower blocks (Plattenbauten) and high poverty rates.

There is no denying: there is a lot of concrete, both horizontally and vertically. Look a little closer though, and you will soon see little gems. One of which is a massive trompe l’oeil building, an illusion that would make you think you were in Charlottenburg instead.

A fresh coat of paint for a fresh look on the district

Well aware of the results of years of DDR-style social housing planning, real estate developers have tried to change that image. This can be done with completely new buildings. Other times, more “creative” solutions have been found.

In 2008, the owners of a large block of apartments decided to renovate the facades and give them a special new look. Talented artists spent weeks crafting an illusion on the walls of the buildings. They made it so that, from afar, the building looks like some upper-class Altbau constructions were transported there.  

This 1.800-square-metre trompe l’oeil illusion recreates the facades of various traditional architectural styles around Europe. The details are really striking, complete with “neighbours” greeting each other on fake balconies.

A world record?

Initially, the project planned to renovate all of the facades on the block in a similar way. That would have totalled 64.000 square metres of canvas. This would have definitely been the largest painting in the world by far. Unfortunately, the developer went bust and it never happened. The current record-holder is a massive silo in Korea.

So while it’s not the biggest painting in the world, it certainly holds the title of the biggest trompe l’oeil in the world (for now), and it’s well worth a visit.

Thumb image credit: Stephan Laude /

Bastien Allibert


Bastien Allibert

Bastien helps people move to Germany since 2011. He was featured on, FT, Vice and more. He also make silly YT videos about the hidden gems of Berlin. He...

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