- Click HERE to read the article with the full set of photographs
Once you get bitten by the Lost Places bug there is no turning back! If Tempelhof Airport was referred to as the mother of all airports, then Teufelsberg (The Devil’s Mountain) would be the father of all Cold War conspiracy theories, having been the host of the US listening station for the National Security Agency (NSA), and not the CIA as many Hollywood movies claim. This peculiar structure of what seems to be giant extra terrestrial golf balls sits on a man-made hill, an amalgamation of rubble emerging eerily from the forest and was part of the Nazi Wehrtechnische Fakultät (military technical college).
The historical documentation surrounding the Teufelsberg varies, depending on which side of the Grunewald you sat on, but but the common denominator is that it was used primarily the Field Station Berlin.
Strangely enough, I watched Berlin Station on Netflix the preceding week and found myself paying close attention to the setting more than the story, since everything was familiar, and if it wasn’t, then I took note of it, hoping to visit the location at some point. Scenes from the last episode of Berlin Station were filmed on location in Teufelsberg, with a dramatic drop of one characters from the top floor of the tower featured in the photograph above.
The first attempt to visit the Teufelsberg was a failure because the entire complex had been booked for a private event. The second time around was more successful, but in both cases, the mosquitos that plague the area were vicious and greedy. Never, and I mean NEVER, go there without any form of mosquito repellant! Good walking shoes are also recommended because you have to hike part of the way. Taxis are allowed to drive up to the entrance and drop you off, but if you take your own car there are designated parking lots in the mosquito-infested areas and some of these creatures will kindly escort you all the way up to the hill.
I had mixed feelings exploring this complex. Knowing the previous military history that let to its construction and reputation, it is a jolt to the senses to see it converted into an alternative scene for artists, musicians, photo shoots, and film showings. Like all other abandoned places, the graffiti on the walls will hold your attention in both positive and negative ways. They are rebellious, unpretentious, and shameless in their message, the social expression of a generation that is oblivious to World War II and the Cold War, but relies on media propaganda, conspiracy theories and Hollywood for their ideas. The open spaces of the abandoned towers as empty canvasses are far to tempting for the non-conformists in Berlin in pursuit of a world they can understand.
The guided tours of Teufelsberg ended in 2015, so most visitors are free to roam around once you present your ticket or buy one at the entrance. Either way, you are in for a shock if you visit this place after Tempelhof Airport. There is no remaining semblance of order befitting a military installation or US presence. In its place is quite the opposite, and you will run into a lot of New Age expressionism, or immature perspectives.
It is not just walls that have been used as canvases, or the garden converted into unusual cafes, and once you reach the top, the view of Berlin and the Grunewald is worth effort.
I made fun of the spheres in the beginning, but there is actually an entire science surrounding these domes and it is worth reading up on it beforehand so you can test it There is something called Sound Tourism and there are only two locations in Germany considered sonic wonders, the Teufelsberg being one of them (the animated clock in Goslar being the other one).
Abandoned spy station or alternative art scene, either way, this is one of the more popular lost places of Berlin that many are still rallying to save and restore.