Day Trips, Culture & History, Must-See, Parks & Neighborhoods

Teufelsberg - The Devil's Mountain

Abandoned_19.jpg

I found this amazing blog about exploring abandoned places in / near Berlin. OiSne of their suggestions was Teufeslberg - an abandoned US/British Spy listening station built on top of a pile of WWII rubble. You don't get much more ironic than that - "we bombed you, and now we're listening in on you from on top of the ruins of your capital!"

I'm sure that's not lost on anyone.

Surrounding Tuefelsberg is Grunewald forest. The S1 takes you to Grunewald and you can walk or bike from there.

It was a sunny fall day when Jed and I went for a visit. We walked through the forest and next to the allotment gardens before crossing the street and finding a path up the hill. Sorry, "mountain."

We got up to the top and encountered a double chain link fence. It looked pretty sturdy but we read that there were some cut fences along the path somewhere, so we took a walk around. Sure enough, we found an opening through both chain link fences. We hesitated for a moment - after all, you don't break the law lightly in Germany... especially if you can't sweet talk your way out of 60 years in a prison camp, which is the normal sentence for foreigners doing anything wrong. I kid, I kid! We went in.

"Oh man. We are so cool!!" We walked around the bottom levels, which felt completely illicit with visible signs of raves, broken glass everywhere, graffiti, and old industrial parts. Then we discovered a staircase leading up. Every level had colorful graffiti / urban art. We kept on climbing up, admiring the view from each level

Finally we got to the main outdoor level, with 2 'small' listening domes and a nice view. Here's where we discovered that we were not alone in the compound: old people, children, families with dogs.... all were wandering around freely and at ease. I guess we're not so cool after all.

We decided to walk up the next flights to the very top. When we got into the dome it was completely dark but every noise was magnified about 10x. Stepping gingerly on the ground, which was full of broken glass, resulted in what sounded like a hand grenade exploding in a cave. Or what I imagine that would sound like. 

The listening domes are geodesic - made up of triangular pieces that magnify sound.

 

USM 620 Kilo, as it was also known, was part of the worldwide Echelon spy network. Each globe contained massive 12-metre satellite dishes and the most sophisticated spying equipment for the time, enabling the western powers to intercept satellite signals, radio waves, microwave links and other transmissions, before interpreting and analyzing their findings. It’s clear that they didn't really trust the Ruskis that much. The feeling was mutual.

ource: Abandoned Berlin

fter exhausting our capacity for delight at hearing even the smallest noises magnified into 400 decibels, we went down a few levels and ate our packed lunch on the platforms looking out into the sun over Grunewald Forest.

UPDATE October 2012

There are some aggressive goons running Teufelsberg these days. Andy and Nicole came to visit us in September and we decided to take them to Teufelsberg. Bad idea. When we tried to go up the towers, a big guy was blocking the staircase and demanding to see our 'stamps' as proof of payment. They charge 7 euro for 'tours' which is totally illegal, as it's not even open to the public (officially). It sounded like it was just this guy and his big friends threatening tourists with beatings if they didn't pay. Nicole managed to sneak away while he was taking us downstairs to get rid of us, but the whole experience was ruined by this asshole.

Lesson: either pay the 7 euro fee or learn kung fu and tear this mofo a new one. I vote the latter.