Since I’m here in Berlin for a while, I found my favorite place to go for a walk in fall and winter: the former US listening station at Teufelsberg in Grunewald. The view over Berlin, the run-down architecture of this former spy station, combined with street art of today. Let met tell you more about this mysterious place and its history.
WHY IS IT LOCATED THERE?
Once you walk through the woods and the beautiful landscape of Grunewald (a 25 minutes train ride from Berlin center), you discover the field station on top of a hill. It makes sense that this former spy station is at this exact location, because in the 1950s the Americans and British decided to place their station on the highest point in West Berlin at the time: the top of the man-made Teufelsberg is precisely 120.1 meters high.
But the Germans didn’t mind, that there was top secret military work going on at the top of the hill. In 1955 they planted one million trees around it and turned the landscape into a recreational area. Actually, in the 1980s it was also used for ski-races and ski-jumping.
WHAT HAPPENED TO IT AFTER THE END OF THE COLD WAR?
After the Cold War ended and the Warsaw Pact collapsed, Western spies left the Teufelsberg station, because they had no need for it anymore. So it became an abandoned place and fell into disrepair.
The first one to show interest in this place, was movie director David Lynch. In 2007, the American film director tried to buy the complex and wanted to set up a “Vedic Peace University” with the controversial Maharishi Foundation. But that never happened.
THE LARGEST GRAFFITI GALLERY IN EUROPE
Today the empty buildings are run by private tenants. And they turned this former spy station into a piece of art: Graffiti artists from around the globe have come to spray on its walls, making it the largest graffiti gallery in Europe.
The combination of its past with the mysterious secret service, disrupted buildings and street art to see, make the Teufelsberg my most favorite location to go for a walk in winter time.
Because it’s such a mind-blowing place, nobody minds to pay a small entrance fee, so that the private tenants from today can maintain this historical place. They want to turn it into a “natural cultural area” and aim to leave it open for public as long as possible.