Greetings friends from a very rainy grey Paris. Miserable and grey where you are too? Ah well. It is that time of the year when with the fading daylight, we all seem to sink into some form of mellow hibernation.
I’ve been far from hibernating. Not yet. Been busy catching up with work at a pretty neat coworking space just off Canal St Martin called Cafe Craft. Besides answering emails and planning future trips, I’ve spent most of the last few days digging through pictures from my recent Street Art road trip to Germany. ( If you missed my earlier guide to the highlights of the Streetart in Germany tour, click here).
One of the key highlights of this trip for me was visiting Teufelsberg, an abandoned outpost of the cold war. So in time honoured tradition, I thought today I’d share with you 40 pictures from the visit and some of my thoughts about this place. I know from when I initially shared some pictures on Facebook and Instagram that many of you are yet to pay a visit to this place. Hopefully, this post will change your mind.
Abandoned and unloved. As I mentioned in my post earlier this week about Tampere’s abandoned matchstick factory, what is it about abandoned places that speaks to us so much?
With an uncertain future and disturbing past, Teufelsberg is a place like no other.
Hidden in a dense, leafy forest on the city’s outskirts near Grunewald, when you reach Teufelsberg, it feels like you have truly reached the edge of civilisation.
Stripped bare by thieves and vandals and every available surface covered with graffiti, the place has a very post-apocalyptic feel about it.
When we arrive late on a pretty miserable October afternoon, the place is drowning in an eerie silence. A thick, grey mist envelops the site. Peeking out of the mist from the top of the tower is the surreal view of these huge bulbous radomes (nicknamed by locals as ‘Berlin’s Balls’). Each of these domes contained massive 12 metre satellite antennas which at the time were the most sophisticated spying equipment .
Teufelsberg served as a former NSA listening station run by British and American intelligence officers during the Cold War.
The station was built on a hill of almost 12 million cubic metres of rubble gathered from post World War II Berlin. Standing 80 meters tall above the surroundings and 120 meters above sea level, Teufelsberg was at the time, the highest point of Berlin. Beneath the hill are buried, quite bizarrely, the ruins of a former Nazi military technical college that was never finished because of the war.
After the wall, Teufelsberg passed hands through a few different owners, before strangely enough, film director David Lynch came forward to buy the land to build a new university that he promised would focus on the concept of transcendental meditation. The university he claimed would provide “knowledge to students but also give them the chance to be enlightened.”
Lynch’s plans never materialised as plans were made to build a luxury hotel and spy museum.
However enlightenment in some form did come to the site later when a band of renowned international street artists came to paint on the walls of the building to breathe life back into the abandoned spy station. Many of the works you will see here were painted by over 70 artists who gathered here in March 2015 as part of the Berlin rising art event. Street artists whose work you can see here include PAOD, SAM crew, Ambush, JBAK and Mein Lieber Prost.
There’s a lot of artists I didn’t recognise here so if anyone can help me attribute the works to the pictures, please drop me a line below.
Till recently the site wasn’t open to the public. However, that didn’t deter the place becoming a popular haunt for locals and visitors, squeezing through the fences or scaling the rickety scaffolds. Now thanks to the efforts of volunteers the place is protected. Access is now regulated and for a fee of €7, guided tours are offered. While it may be strange to pay €7 for something you could technically access for free, I think it is a small donation to make to visit such a unique place. Despite it being ‘legal’, I personally feel the place still retains that element of wild beautiful eerieness. Visit soon, before this abandoned outpost of mankind crumbles. Enjoy the pictures.
Plus a big thank you to my #streetartgermany team: Sabina Trojanova from GirlVsGlobe, Peter Parkorr from Travel Unmasked, Mark Hofmeyr from Trademark Pictures and Gloria Atanmo from the Blog Abroad. Check out their blogs and please follow them.