Often it is the case that places of distinct, silent beauty were once places of flurrying action. In this instance, action that played a huge part in the aftermath of the Second World War.
Named Teufelsberg, or ‘Devils Hill’, this 260 foot mound is built from the rubble that overwhelmed West Berlin after the war ended. Not being able to deposit it anywhere in the east – because of the Berlin Blockade – a suitable location had to be found, and the shell of the former Nazi military-technical college was chosen as the perfect location. In the US, you’ll probably hear the site called ‘The Hill’ after its famous use as one of the NSA’s largest listening stations. After the fall of East Germany, the radio equipment was removed and the station closed, but luckily the spectacular domes endured as a reminder of darker days.
Many attempts have been made to modernise the site – from the building of contemporary flats to a museum – though none so far have come to fruition and it has been left abandoned since 2009. But don’t let this deter you. The site has a certain eerie atmosphere which has become a hit with tourists seeking a glimpse into the heart of Cold War West Germany and street art fans will also be catered for, with much of the domes’ surfaces being plastered in colourful tags from all over the world. Whatever your motivation, a trip to the hill offers a fantastic chance to reflect upon your trip to the German capital – its history, its landscape – and contemplate how such a great country could once stand divided.
Being situated in the Grunewald locality ensures striking views across the city, from Berliner Dom in the east to the Spree River in the west and is the ultimate trip for the amateur photographer looking to update their landscape portfolio. If you’re visiting in summer you’ll find a lovely spot for a picturesque picnic and in winter Berliners flock to make the most of the hills speedy sledging, but be wary, it makes a perfect location for a snowball fight.