Abandoned Buildings,  Art,  Berlin,  Germany,  Sightseeing,  Street Art

teufelsberg station: berlin’s abandoned nsa spy station on devil’s mountain

i was googling things to see in berlin and sifting through the seemingly endless list of attractions when i came across a listing that stood out to me… teufelsberg.

random triangle patterns were used on the lower domes so as to not interfere with receiving radio signals

the summary was interesting and the more i read about this place, the more i was hell bent on going.  from everything i could find out, this place was a spy station for the nsa when the american forces were stationed in germany during the cold war.  it was built for the americans to spy on the soviets, there were rumours of escape tunnels built under the compound, the translated name in german means ‘devil’s mountain’, the five globes that make the compound so distinct remind me of our very own expo 86 monument, the place is literally painted on from top to bottom with graffiti & street art and if all that wasn’t enough to pique someone’s interest, the entire hill that it sits on is built on top of an estimated 12 million tonnes of world war ii rubble that was piled on top of a nazi college that could not be destroyed post-war.  i couldn’t even believe what i was reading, all i knew was after all the pictures i had looked at, i wanted some in my collection.

we had a limited number of sunny days to work with in berlin and as the days came and went, i still had not made it out to teufelsberg.  on our last full day in the city, the weather was looking ever so grey and i wavered on whether or not to make the trek out to grunewald forest, lest i get caught in a downpour.

after a whole lot of hummming and hawing while munching down my lunch underneath the u-bahn tracks at burgermeister i pulled the trigger.  i took the metro to the grunewald station on the west side of the city and started on my walk into and up to the middle of the park.

the start of my walk. i had no idea where i was going i just hoped that this was the right direction
hard to believe that this massive, dense park was within the concrete jungle of the city
once again, no clue what this was but i passed this after 10 mins of walking and i wanted some documentation if i ended up dying in this gigantic park

and i walked.  and walked.  and walked some more.  20 minutes down a grassy pathway following two girls brought me to a pond that didn’t offer me any sight of the spy towers.  i flagged down a dog walker for help and he kindly pointed me in the right direction.  he eventually found me struggling to make heads or tails out of his directions so he offered me a ride to the top.  now i normally don’t make a habit out of hopping into strangers’ cars but he had two cockerspaniels with him that didn’t look all too vicious.  the mother of the two was dragging ass and didn’t seem like a pet that a serial killer would’ve had (although a smart serial killer might have).

the entrance of teufelsberg

it wasn’t terribly easy to find details on the ins and outs of this station as it has gone through a lot of changes over the years.  at one point it was completely abandoned and and people used to come here to steal any salvagable metals they could get their hands on.  another stretch of time, it was under foreign ownership and the security guard was running paid tours without their owners knowing, prior to this a student was running illegal tours of his own.  i’ve also read that there had been holes cut into the perimeter gate in order to sneak in and avoid the 7 euro entry fee but that over the years, they’ve been patched up but possible cut out again.  although that 7 euros could have come in handy for another portion of currywurst, i’m too old and lazy to try said things so i paid my entrance fee, cluelessly hoping that some of that makes it back to or indirectly inspires the artists to continue doing what they do best.

a short walk up to the compound after the entrance gate brings you to the offices.  the lower ball wasn’t open on the day that i went but the three large ones were.  when i say ‘open’ i more or less mean that it wasn’t boarded up.

the jambalaya tower, off limits due to the claim that there is asbestos inside
looking up at the main building
meet tobo, he’s EVERYWHERE in teufelsberg
one swing closer to a theme park
not a lot of stencil or poster work here. lots of spray work
i haven’t seen my car in seven months now, it probably looks a little like this now
one seriously overworked crane by the looks of teufelsberg
a shot of the lower buildings on my way up to the triple domed tower
all the necessities of a street artist

i have to assume that there are people living onsite nowadays with a treehouse, camper vans and a garden off of the rear garage.


tobo being ever so modest
yes, gandalf. we shall.
metal spiderweb that’s caught a bicycle. dunno about this but sure, why not
lots of military/anarchist influences on these works
oh america, you’re so honest
love the shading on this one
spongebob makes an appearance
the main dome, about 10 floors up

two floors of the main building are open and on those floors are huge landscape murals standing up behind one another.  it felt like a gallery and it was just as quiet as one.  i wasn’t the only one around snapping shots in fact i’d say that half of the people i ran into were over 50 years of age and really taking their time between paintings.


fxck the world.
americans had staff stationed here for over three decades
half of the top floor was still being worked on by artists, creating their 15+ foot murals
saw this guy hiding in the shadows behind scrap wood and metal
my first wooly mammoth sighting
a group of artists working on their wall
gangsta bxtch
a little harsh
cyguy’s grade 12 yearbook picture + current life
rows upon rows of murals with no guardrails on that rightside to prevent a fall from 50+ feet

on the fourth floor is the rooftop, the entrances to two of the balls as well as a sweeping panoramic view of the city.  it was so quiet and peaceful, i wish i could have caught a sunset here but that will have to wait until the next visit.

team america!
the tattered, torn up domes from years of trespassers
rats in a cage
not sure what kind of equipment they had in these domes back in the day but i’m pretty sure it wasn’t that bathtub
berlin way off in the distance. this place was only about a 5 minute metro ride from our hotel though
the other direction looking south and the trees just go on forever
there was talk of teufelsberg turning into an art school but that deal with an american investor fell through
the size of these domes is really amazing once you get up close and inside them
one of my favourite murals. the detailing on the balloons is incredible down to the shine and the creases

DSCF14891another 4 floors up around a hollowed out elevator shaft (and through a few steps in the dark) is the highest sphere.  with most of the protective canvas being cut out of the bottom balls, the sound doesn’t resonate too strongly.  it’s completely different up here as there’s one small window-sized gap to the outside so any sounds echo for nearly five seconds.

part of the dome up top. it was nearly pitch black except for one small square of ripped canvas letting in some light through a screen
eerie to look up at these two guys with the resonating sounds

the first few deep breaths i took got my head twisting left and right to see who was standing next to me from the echos.  the sound reverberated so quickly that it sounded clear as day from directly behind my ear.  it’s a great place to do some sound tests, some people brought some music, some whistling, some even testing to see how far their whispers will travel (which make it to the other end of the sphere).  it would’ve been cool to get some instruments up there but unfortunately nobody lugged a saxophone or guitar up all those stairs.

many years of decay have left the protective canvas ratty

i’d say that i spent nearly three hours walking through the compound and went at a very slow pace.  it was great to sit up top and stare across the horizon of the city, a city that has transformed so much during the lifespan of this building alone.  i would have to guess that a lot will have changed over the next few years as there would definitely be a demand to see an attraction like this.  i mean, 50 people showed up for a street art tour around town and the donations paid to the guide were nearly the same price as to get into teufelsberg.

i love places that this odd mystique about them and i won’t be forgetting teufelsberg anytime soon.

much love, teufelsberg. hope to see you again

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