Teufelsberg Spy Station – Street Art on Devil’s Mountain, Berlin

Teufelsberg, Street Art, berlin

Teufelsberg (German for Devil’s mountain) is an artificial hill in Berlin, Germany. And just like the meaning of its name, there is something dark and mysterious about this mountain…

It rises approximately 80 meters above the surrounding Brandenburg plain – the north of Berlin’s Grunewald Forest. It was named after the Teufelssee (i.e. Devil’s lake) in its southerly vicinity.

The Teufelsberg was created shortly after World War II, by heaping the remains of the rubble left after the damage of the war (all 75,000,000 m3 of it!) And while this sounds amazing in itself, it is surprisingly not particularly unique, as there are several other man-made mounds across Germany and other parts of Eastern Europe.

However, what makes Teufelsberg unique, is that also buried underneath, is the remains of the never completed Nazi military-technical college (Wehrtechnische Fakultät) designed by Albert Speer (Hitler’s chief architect and also known as ‘the Nazi who said sorry’ after admitting responsibility at the Nuremberg Trials). The Allies tried in vain to demolish the school using explosives, but it was so sturdy that covering it with debris turned out to be the easier option. Teufelsberg has also been used as a ski slope designed by architect Heini Klopfer.

I heard about The Teufelsberg Listening Station after watching an interview with an electronic music artist from Berlin called Pantha Du Prince talk about the intense acoustics inside the main tower, and after doing some research, found that it is relatively easy to get to. So on our first day in Berlin, with blissful weather and a tummy full of currywurst, we set off to Teufelsberg!

Meandering through the beautiful Grunewald forest, the four of us stopped in amazement at the numerous signs warning of wild boar that freely roam the area and the amount of brightly coloured blue beetles that seemingly littered the forest floor. After coming to a clearing in the forest, high up in the distance we could see the dome of one of the listening towers, stark white in colour, contrasting with the various greens of the forest. Man and nature as one.

beetle_berlin

Teufelsberg, berlin, devils mountain

After arriving at the top of Devil’s Mountain, the Teufelsberg Listening Station finally came into full view. Beautiful huge spherical buildings, high in the sky dominated the surrounding landscape and skyline, decorated with abundances of graffiti as far as the eyes could see. We had read, and had been told by people we knew who had visited there, that they had climbed through the fencing in order to gain access to the station (it is private property folks, so technically you are breaking the law, so I do not condone this type of behaviour *wink wink*). However when we arrived, we found a few other people searching in vain for an entrance or way through as they had all been expertly sealed off!

Myself and a couple of other smaller girls finally managed to squeeze our way through a small gap in the gate, however my boyfriend and the other guys were too big and were left outside. As we all decided that we had come here to experience this place together I didn’t want to leave them so Elsa and I decided we should squeeze back through the small gap to find an alternative entrance. However, no sooner had we been on the other side of the fence, a man appeared from the inside and solemnly told us to leave. Teufelsberg is now home to squatters, and apparently, and I say this with a speculative tone, they are hired by the owners of the Listening Station to guard it.

Teufelsberg_berlin_gate

As the group of us crowded around the entrance, more people from inside emerged, sliding down the slopes on wheeled chairs, walkie-talkies in one hand, cigarettes and beer in the other. We were then told that to access the Listening Station, we all had to each pay 7€. For this price we were to be given a guided tour by the inhabitants of the station, including information about the station’s history, its street art and shown around the towers to the views of the forest and Berlin below. We all decided that this was the only way in, and although it took away part of the excitement of breaking in alone, we were happy to pay.

We were asked to show our identifications, and to write down our e-mail and home addresses (fake of course) – this was apparently because the station is very dangerous in places, with holes in the floors and now weak supports and joists, and if any of us were to injure ourselves or even worse, DIE, we had signed our disclaimers!

Berlin street art

Street art of David Lynch
You’ve got to love this homage to David Lynch!

Berlin, street art, abandoned building
Teufelsberg-berlin_street_art

Berlin, Graffiti, Teufelsberg

Once inside, we were all astounded by how derelict and vandalized the station was. However, an abundance of street art (by some world renowned artists) sprawled across the walls and floors. Inside we saw a community of people, some crowding round a campfire, cooking food and playing guitar, others inside, their worldly belongings consisting of sleeping bags and clothes piled high. We meandered up high into buildings, all decorated with elaborate graffiti and stood inside the listening stations and gazed in awe at the views ahead. The forest below us looked like a carpet of green, with buildings interspersed here and there.

Teufelsberg spy station, Berlin
Caravan, street art. berlin
View of Berlin from Teufelsberg spy station

Teufelsberg spy station, view of Berlin
One of the best views of Berlin is from Teufelsberg spy station

At the top of the highest tower, the acoustics in there are otherworldly and alien. Each sound echoes and resonates for what seems like forever. No sound is lost. A whisper sounds like the voice of a ghost, floating effortlessly around the room, a clap sounds like thunder. A man with a guitar began to play and sing and people became silent, hypnotised by the transcendental qualities of its sound. We all knew we were experiencing something incredibly special.

Teufelsberg, berlin, street art
Street art inside Teufelsberg, Berlin

Would you like to explore Teufelsberg?



A travel & culture blog specialising in Scandinavia and the Arctic, peppered with the rest of the world in between.


'Teufelsberg Spy Station – Street Art on Devil’s Mountain, Berlin' have 13 comments

  1. June 14, 2013 @ 11:51 pm memographer

    Great post! I haven’t heard about Nazi military-technical college. Pantha Du Prince documentary was interesting. Thanks for sharing!

    Btw, love your dress!

    Reply

    • June 15, 2013 @ 10:47 am admin

      I have a lot to thank Pantha Du Prince for – to see him perform at the top of the Spy Station would be a dream come true.

      Thanks re: dress – let me know if you want to borrow it :)

      Reply

  2. June 15, 2013 @ 7:19 am Mary {The World Is A Book}

    What an incredible find, Shing! You almost made me nervous there with you trespassing and all :) Some of those street art are amazing. It’s a bit sad to find the squatters there but at least they served a purpose as guards. Love the fun poses!

    Reply

    • June 15, 2013 @ 11:05 am admin

      Hehe, I was a bit nervous too Mary, especially when I was caught red-handed, but I presume they are used to people trying to get in as the squatters or ‘security’ escorted me back out rather nonchalantly.

      I don’t usually advocate trespassing, but with this kind of place there is a whole grey area. Looking back though, I would advise anyone wanting to go here to pay the required entrance fee. It’s worth it just to see the stunning views of Berlin, but the street art steals the show hands down.

      Reply

  3. June 15, 2013 @ 7:07 pm Savi

    Really enjoyed reading this post. We just wrote 2 posts on Berlin’s street-art and food over at Bruised Passports- LOVE that city :-)

    Reply

    • July 1, 2013 @ 6:34 am admin

      I loved reading your posts over @Bruised Passports (great blog name btw)! Berlin is definitely my kind of city…. such a fun vibe.

      Reply

  4. July 1, 2013 @ 7:40 am Savi of Bruised Passports

    Thank you :-) Let’s stay in touch. Cheers

    Reply

  5. July 5, 2013 @ 4:58 pm martin

    dear shing,
    thanks for your article about teufelsberg. i’m sorry that you seem to have had a bad experience with the guards.
    i’m a member of “initiative teufelsberg” which has, since last year, the opportunity to operate the location. we are offering tours all the week around (long ones on the history of the place on weekends, short ones on weekdays). this is the only possible way for the public to see the site. because the site is dangerous (unsafe rails, open elevator shaft, asbestos), the city authorities obliged us to only let people in in groups with guides. the guides have to be paid, that is why it costs. That obligation means as well that we have to keep the fence closed. on the other hand we are keeping the fence closed to keep the vandals outside. it is our aim to save whats left of this unique monument, to tell it’s story and to develop it as a place for the arts. to do so, we have to keep off the vandals, who could destroy the stuff we’ve already built up (what actually already happened). in the end we are hoping to get the allowence to let the public in without guides (and entrance fees).
    the money for these activities is gained mainly with the tours, so our visitors sponsor the saving of the site.
    i’m an historian offering the longer tours on weekends, where all the facts about the place and its history are described, many of which come from my own free-time research.
    we are no opportunists trying to squeeze money out of the place (or tourists)! for more info have a look on the website mentioned.
    sorry again for our guards!
    greetings from the hill,
    martin

    Reply

    • July 5, 2013 @ 5:03 pm martin

      oh sorry! here’s the website for everyone:
      http://www.berlinsightout.de

      Reply

    • August 7, 2013 @ 6:12 pm admin

      Hello Martin, sorry for the late reply! Perhaps my post was a little melodramatic, as I didn’t have a bad time with the guards… I just took their abrupt instructions on the chin, and part of the adventure! 😀

      Thanks for your comment, it helps people like myself and others who are thinking of visiting Teufelsberg understand what the entrance fee contributes to. And I have absolutely no problem paying to enter after learning it contributes to maintaining the place and regulating visitors.

      You explain it perfectly with “our visitors sponsor the saving of the site”.

      Thanks for commenting!

      Reply

  6. August 11, 2013 @ 2:08 pm Where to find ruins of war in Europe: the German hills of the dead and destruction (and rebirth) | Any Latitude | Just another mile forward

    […] The most famous debris hill is probably Teufelsberg (Devil’s Mountain) in Berlin, which twice as high and contains five times the amount of rubble than its Stuttgart’s counterpart. Here’s a report of a day visit to the site by the culture map. […]

    Reply

  7. January 2, 2015 @ 10:49 am RaeAllen.net

    […] CultureMap […]

    Reply

  8. December 1, 2016 @ 4:06 pm Cómo es vivir de forma alternativa en casas okupa alrededor del mundo

    […] Crédito: theculturemap […]

    Reply


Would you like to share your thoughts?

Your email address will not be published.

Copyright © 2016 Shing Lin Yoong | All Rights Reserved | Designed by Paradigm Creations | Links