Teufelsberg is an abandoned NSA spy base left over from The Cold War, built on an artificial hill. It is made from the rubble that Berlin was reduced to during the Second World War – the Germans love a bit of recycling. The name translates as ‘Devil’s Hill’ which makes it sound even more ominous than it looks but it was actually named after a nearby nudist lake (which is still quite ominous in my opinion).
It has been abandoned since 1992 and covers an under-construction Nazi military-technical college (Wehrtechnische Fakultät). The Allies of WW2 tried using explosives to demolish the Nazi school, but it was so sturdy (good old German engineering) that covering it with debris ended up being easier.
The vibe at Teufesberg was buzzing, graffiti artists setting up to create new masterpieces, like-minded explorers and history addicts. There was even a bar at the top which is something new for my urban exploration. Graffiti artists from around the world leave their mark at Teufelsberg and it is said to be the largest graffiti gallery in Europe.
During The Cold War, 1,500 spies worked at the Teufelsberg base, made up of British and American spies. Contrary to popular belief, there was never any radar equipment installed at Teufelsberg. Radar is used to detect objects like planes and missiles and this equipment was already in use in other locations around Berlin. Teufelsberg was just there to listen.
After the Cold War ended and the Warsaw Pact collapsed, Western spy agencies no longer had any need for the Teufelsberg station. So it was abandoned and fell into disrepair. There were plans to turn the site into a happiness academy and also exclusive apartments, however, nothing ever came of this. The site can now be visited by anyone and is open seven days a week until sunset. Tickets are available here.
The tallest dome is absolutely incredible, as you make your way through the pitch black corridors inaudible whispers echo down to you. They seem magnified and as you climb you will hear the unusual way that any sound bounces off the dome. Something as small as the click of the shutter on a camera resounds, you can watch my video clip below.
Getting to Teufelsberg is pretty easy, take the ring to Westkreuz and then the S5 to Heerstr. It’s a bit of a walk so bring your bike if you don’t have much time. It took us about 30mins. You head down Teufelsseechausse until you see a carpark on your right. Follow that road until you get to the top of the hill and you will see the entrance to the left of the fence. For the viewpoint pictured at the start of the post head up the steps to your right after the car park, there is also a nice view of the city.
Even though this is still an abandoned place for sure, it was very touristy. You buy tickets to enter and tour groups are seen walking around. It kind of takes the fun out of the exploration but with all of the artwork and history, it is still extremely enjoyable.
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