27 January 2014

Berlin Boogie: Teufelsberg Listening Station

I have been living in Berlin for more than a year now, and I have started to discover the more quirky and alternative and not-so-typical places to visit in the city. Yes, I do enjoy visiting museums and such, but sometimes, there are places in Berlin that the typical visitor doesn't go to. One example of that is the Teufelsberg Listening Station. It typically costs money to tour this place, but last autumn, there was a weekend in which it was open for free to the public due to the Open House of Monuments.

Teufelsberg is said to be the highest point in the city. It actually has a quirky history: at the end of World War II, there was so much rubble in the city, that people piled them up on this location. So this is not a natural hill. Rather, this is a hill that was made as a result of people piling war debris.

Later on, the Americans built a spying station here. There are still the remains of the satellites and the listening devices that they used. This is now abandoned, and it is said that exploring the area on your own without a guide is dangerous, so I waited until there was such an opportunity to pay it a visit. I came in early, and that was actually good, because it turned out that it was a popular destination. Plenty of people signed up after I came.

As you can see, the radomes are now in tatters. Some have been vandalized. Some have graffiti, but later on, as you will see, the alternative art community has taken over this place, and I have seen some of the most interesting street art here in Berlin in this location.

There is plenty of debris, and spray paint. In fact, when we were there, there was a couple of artists doing some stuff on an outer wall. The places we went inside were all guided, as it was rather dark, cavernous, and labyrinthine as well. And when I entered, I had to sign a liability form, because seriously, the building was old, and there were parts that were unsafe.

As you can see, there's plenty of street art here. Some were actually in good taste. I liked it. The photos I have above show a sample of what I saw. And while I was there, there was a street band singing some eclectic music. It was all very artistic, and I liked the fact that old abandoned places like these are being re-purposed. This is also where the Berlin Amateur Radio Club meets.

The tour was actually long and took almost two and a half hours. I learned a lot about this place. Some people decided to go home after touring the main building, but others (me included) decided to climb up to the very top of the building, as well as to the tower. It was a very interesting view, seeing airplanes from afar landing in Tegel Airport, and seeing some of the landmarks that I know from a different perspective.

Of course, these radomes were also peppered with art. In fact, one of them contained a bathtub filled with red paint.

And these are some shots I took from inside the top-most dome. The dome had a very weird feeling to it, mostly because the sound bounces easily and so talking in there felt like I can hear the inside of my head. It was very weird, yet at the same time, I enjoyed it. I am glad I didn't opt to leave after the first hour, because the most fun part of the tour was the end.

If you are in Berlin, and in good weather, try visiting this place. They do offer tours during the weekends, I think. Check the website for information. I didn't pay anything because it was Open House day, but normally they charge entrance for this place.

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