When traveling to Germany, the quintessential Berlin checklist includes must-sees like the Brandenburger Tor, TV Tower and the Berlin Wall, but those who are interested in something more than hopping on-and-off a bus or navigating a public transport system can definitely indulge in another type of urban attraction. When in Berlin, one can visit abandoned places, and Teufelsberg Berlin is just the example.
Teufelsberg, German for the “devil’s mountain” and named after the nearby “devil’s lake” Teufelsee, is located in West Berlin and was once home to NSA Field Station Berlin Teufelsberg. Interestingly, the Americans who owned it were just guests at the highest elevation in West Berlin, which technically belonged to the British. There, they enjoyed unobstructed views and excellent reception from all directions, allowing them to detect the most elusive of radio bands, making the listening post one of the best during the Cold War.
At 114.7 metres, Teufelsberg Berlin became the highest point of the city, a title ironically awarded to an artificial hill made of rubble from roughly 400,000 buildings during WWII. Once a Nazi military education institution, then a dumping ground during reconstruction, then home to the American listening station, whose five radar domes can still be seen today, Teufelsberg has had quite a history and a colorful present. Since the fall of the wall, it has been a preferred mini-getaway for Berliners to hike, skate, enjoy a picnic, or simply escape the hustle and bustle of the city.
Albeit gutted and covered in graffiti, Teufelsberg Berlin has also emerged as a popular alternative tourist spot where breathtaking vistas of the city can be seen. Word of warning: getting there is not so straightforward, with opportunistic locals charging money from unknowing tourists. News is that Cologne-based investors who are Teufelberg’s real owners have entrusted “security” of the property to some Berlin locals. For now, we can’t really say how much the “entrance” fee is, as it is as ambiguous as the information it once intercepted during its Cold War days.
*Thanks to Martin who commented below: There’s a guided tour of Teufelsberg that extends beyond what is mentioned above – a group of historians, artists, and interested people conducting tours in Czech, English and German. Unlike going on a “tour” without commentary with the aforementioned Berlin locals (for seven euros, it seems), Martin and his colleagues have done their research on the hill’s history, conduct tours the proper way, and are active in the preservation the Cold War relic.
When up for something different, a visit to Teufelsberg is only one of the many things to do in Berlin. Teufelsberg Berlin guarantees a unique adventure. Located in Grünewald which is easily accessible via the S-Bahn, follow the unmissable, unmistakable radar domes once you’re there.