Sunday, 10 April 2016

Berlin: Abandoned

While in Berlin with my HND class, a few girls were fascinated with uncovering Berlin's 'abandoned' secrets. Teufelsberg (literally translated to 'Devil's Mountain') was top of their list and after seeing some of the stunning photographs they took there, I knew I had to see it for myself!

A short train journey west from Alexander Platz will land you by the forest of Grunewald. We walked for maybe around 20 minutes and ended up at the bottom of a small mountain…

The interesting thing about it is the fact it’s actually man-made - from the rubble of hundreds of thousands of houses that were bombed during WWII. Hidden deep beneath the debris is what remains of an old Nazi Military Training School - built so solid that all attempts to destroy it failed miserably. To be honest the hill itself wasn't what fascinated me at all as I didn't know any of this until I read more about it afterwards - at the time, I was just too interested in getting to the top before it got dark!

The top is the interesting part anyway. When we eventually stopped climbing, we were faced with a metal fence warning us that entry was 'verboten'. Strange actually because just a short walk to the left and we were greeted by a group of people manning a desk at the gates. They'd obviously realised they could make money here and charged us €5 (as students - normal people are charged €7 I think) to get in. We realised we could have got in for free if we'd found a way to sneak in - but I'd just charged up a mountain in chelsea boots and really didn't fancy getting on my knees and crawling through a hole in a fence.

These massive 'domes' are what remains of a not-so-inconspicuous listening tower, owned by the Americans while East Germany was being run by the Soviets. It is now a great place to see some pretty spectacular street art, get a glimpse of Berlin from above and (according to the big group that came in before us) climb in to a giant football and smoke weed in the dark with friends.

We initially went hoping to see an amazing sunset but once we realised that wasn't happening - we focused our attention on the art work instead. Almost every single inch of the place had been covered and some of it was really breathtaking. I mean, I've seen graffiti before but if you've grown up in Scotland it tends to all be willy-related and about who did who. This was real art and after spending about an hour there - we hadn't even seen half of it.

Before you get to the footballs on the roof, there are rooms off the staircase with free standing walls that had all been claimed by different artists. I couldn't help but wonder what the etiquette was in a situation like this? Who decides who paints where? Is there some kind of graffiti hierarchy? If someone paints something shit, are you allowed to paint over it? Who are these people? If anyone has any information to shed some light on my wonderings, please let me know!

Prepare to spend a good few hours here! If you're coming for the sunset, come in enough time to see everything first and then get to the roof before it starts. I'd hate to be stuck wandering around here in the dark because some of the paintings really freaked me out even in the daylight.

If you've come across any other abandoned secrets or interesting street art please let me know - I'd love to have a look. You can find other photographs from my time in Berlin on my instagram.


  1. Who's willy??? Is it not Oor Willie in Scotland?

    1. It would actually be quite cool if someone was to paint an Oor Willie somewhere in Edinburgh - it's the other willys I'm worried about!


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