BERLIN: Devil’s Mountain

Time to read:

2 minutes

The Teufelsberg (Devil’s Mountain), about 360 feet high, sits in the Grunewald, a huge park on the western boundary of Berlin. The hill was built of rubble trucked out of the German capital after WWII. In the ’50s, the Americans built a listening post on it from which Western forces could eavesdrop on Warsaw Pact communications.

Teufelsberg’s distinguishing feature is its five tattered white antenna domes.

Teufelsberg is often referred to as a radar site, although no radar was installed here.

The Americans left in 1990, after the wall came down. Since then, the site has fallen into disrepair.

Some machinery was left behind. Hard to tell whose, as the Germans used the antennas to talk to aircraft in Berlin airspace for about 10 years after the Americans left.

Since then, the state has sold the land and a series of entrepreneurs has tried to develop it. Today, it costs about $9 to get in or $45 for a tour, and current management says 25,000 visitors a year pay up. The site is host to historical tours, quiet celebrations, music, theater and, on Sunday, yoga.

Today, the top of the hill looks like a cross between an old military site and a ’60s squat. Good place to catch a few rays, if you don’t mind the crowd.

Or grab a snack.

The site was left abandoned and unattended for years, and artists have been working here since the Americans left. The graffiti in the main building constitutes one of the largest outdoor galleries in Europe. But the main building is closed until Berlin authorities are satisfied it’s safe. The ticket taker told me the company has been waiting two-and-a-half years.

Artists have eft their mark on the walls inside the buildings.

And on the outsides of the buildings.

Artists at work.

The developers show a plan for an exhibit area, a museum, a restaurant and an open-air gallery. They won the backing of the artists by including plans for a safer and more comfortable work space.

But plans faded after Berlin made the Teufelsberg part of the surrounding forest. That meant no new buildings could be built here, although existing buildings could be developed. Then a newspaper article said the hill would become a protected national historical site, presumably further limiting development. And now the city wants to buy the site back.


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