Berlin as a backdrop to a thriller TV series or movie is nothing new, in the same manner that Prague, New York, Chicago, Rome, London, Vienna, Paris, or countless other cities are chosen to stage a high-speed chase scene, secret transaction or a murder. Whether it is the central station, the Brandenburg Gate or somewhere in the Potsdamer Platz, those who know Berlin well will recognise the familiar sites.
For the past 10 years or so, the Kollhoff Tower has been featured in a few movies and the Netflix series Berlin Station. (NB: the Kollhoff Tower is not included in the Bourne Supremacy Walking Tour). For those of us who live here, the movie set trucks are a common site. The only thing that piques my curiosity now and then is what movie or series it might be. I am pretty immune to film stars, so I don’t really care whether which Hollywood sensation is in town, (except if it involves a concert at the Olympic Stadium, which means having to find an alternative route home), but it is always fun to identify the buildings from the various movies. I have been working my way down the list of scenes I drew up from the various movies and series, and the Kollhoff Tower was one of the more elusive ones because you really need to set aside time to go there, and since I am rarely in the Potsdamer Platz area, it kept getting pushed further down the list.
Completed in 1999, the Kollhoff Tower bears the name of its lead architect, Hans Kollhoff. It is 25 stories high, which by international standards for skyscrapers in other cities, is not really that high (the Lebua Tower in Bangkok, for example, is 65 stories). But for a very flat city like Berlin, this is one of the best places to obtain a decent panoramic view of the city without having to go to the TV tower at the Alexander Platz.
Tickets to go up to the Panorama Punkt can be easily obtained online and the VIP tickets which include coffee and cake won’t make a big dent on the budget either. If your timing is right, this is the best place to shoot a panoramic sunset over the city, but even if you don’t catch the setting sun, the view from the top is sensational. I think it definitely beats the few from the Reichstag (Parliament building) because you can shoot open air and not battle your way through glass like at the Reichstag.
It was only when I looked out from the viewing deck that I realised how flat Berlin really is! The peculiar building code from the old days that stipulated that no building is to be higher than five stories is still very much in place in many of the older parts, so when you change perspectives, the few tall buildings stand out like a sore thumb.
Once you manage to tear away from the view, the narrow corridor that takes you around the deck is definitely worth the time with the camera. To me it was like stepping into a movie set, and I kept expecting some actor to come charging around the corner. Luckily, tourist season is waning, so it was relatively quiet and there were sufficient opportunities to photograph without anyone photobombing the shot.
If you are into games, the Panorama Punkt viewing deck is definitely the place to play I spy with my little eye... There are several maps that help you identify the buildings near and afar, and if your ticket includes a set of binoculars, then it will certainly make things more exciting. Naturally, this is selfie haven and this is where you spot the more experienced selfie shooters because they will have to angle the selfie stick in such a way that the right view is included and not just a bunch of railings.