Summer is almost here, let’s go out and explore what Berlin has to offer! This time, I am going to tell you about a place that is not usually among the basic tourist attractions in Berlin. It is well hidden in the woods up a hill in the district of Grunewald. The hill, known as Teufelsberg (i.e. Devil’s Mountain), is around 80 meters high and houses the wolrds’ biggest open-air gallery in the world.
How does a flat area like Berlin have a hill of almost 100-meter height, you ask? Well, to answer this question, we have to take a look at German history.
Deep beneath the mountain rests what is left of a planned Nazi military training school which was designed by the architect Albert Speer. After the war, the allies couldn’t fully destroy the remains of the buildings, so they started to cover them with war-rubble. During the Cold War, the allies started to install a listening station or also known as intelligence gathering station on this manmade mountain. The NSA then started to spy on the Soviets, east Germany, and other Warsaw Pact nations military traffic. The station was fully operating until the fall of the Berlin wall and the reunification of East and West Berlin in 1989. After the allied forces left, the hill was bought by investors who intended to build houses and hotels there, even a spy museum was on the agenda. But the whole area was declared a protected forest area, therefore, all construction plans had to be cancelled. In the following years the place kind of got abandoned and forgotten for quite a while.
In the last few years though artists from all over the world have visited Devil’s mountain to leave their colourful marks there. Hence, the place has turned into the worlds’ biggest open air gallery. Well known international urban artists such as The Weird Crew (HRVB, Dxtr, Vidam), James Bolough, Base23, David Walker, LowBros, Clog&Ink, and NascaUno have transformed the abandoned spy station into a magical and surreal place.
Discovering the Teufelsberg:
Once you enter the gates of the former listening station you immediately spot the three domes on top of the old building. Exposed to nature and without preservation the domes have suffered quite a bit for the last fifty years. The white fabrics are heavily ripped and only pieces of the original form are left. But this is exactly what makes this place so extravagant and adventurous. So let’s go in…
Standing at the door you have two choices: Either you discover the abandoned area by yourself or you sign up for a group tour. I recommend you join the group tour as the guides really give you interesting information and background stories about the history and development of the area. Although, there is so much to explore on the mountain that a guided tour might not cut it for you. Either way, please note that there is a special path to follow, signalised on the floor. As the whole area is quite fragile I highly recommend you to stay on this path to not risk your own safety.
Push your way through until you arrive at the “dilapidated” building. You can now enjoy the paintings, installations and other artistic artworks of more than 300 artists from different countries around the world such as e.g. Singapore, London, United States and etc. on three floors.
Explore every story until you reach the rooftop with its two small white domes. This is where you pause for a moment. This breathtaking view should not be missed. On the one side, you can spot the silhouettes of Berlin’s centre – TV tower included.
On the other side, you can observe the complete contrary. The forest of Grunewald seems to be lying endlessly in front of you.
Once you have reached the rooftop there is another stair. This one will bring you up to the very top right inside the third and biggest dome. This place is insane because when you speak your voice echoes through the whole dome.
If you want to know more about the history and the current developments on the Teufelsberg in Berlin check out their page for stories and articles about this magical place.
How to get there
The best way to get to the mountain is by bike. You can take the S-Bahn Heerstraße until and drive on Teufelchauseestraße. At the end of the road turn right and go up the hill. A walk from the S-Bahn to Devil’s Mountain takes about 30 minutes. If you come by car you have to park at the foot of the mountain.
Entrance Fee: 5 € (without guided tour)
Transport: S-Bahn Heerstraße / Walk / Bike
So now it’s up to you, pack your bag, don’t forget your camera and discover one of Berlins’ most famous abandoned places! Do you love abandoned places as much as we do?