abandoned places, berlin, germany, travel

Hiking to Devil’s Mountain

February 1, 2017

Teufelsburg is home to the former Cold War spy station built over a Nazi training school. Though it isn’t the history lovers who flock here but the artists and hipsters so that they can climb the graffiti-ridden tower and catch the magnificent views of Berlin.

You might have caught my post about how I got to Teufelsburg, how I got lost and encountered nudists in Grunewald Forest, and if you did, you’ll know that I found the whole experience anti-climactic, which isn’t to say I wouldn’t do it again. In fact, I feel like I need to do it again, but more on that later.First let’s talk about the term ‘Devil’s Mountain’.The mountain the spy station is set on is actually man-made. Or woman-made rather, as it was the local women who ordered 80 truckloads of 7,000 cubic metres of war rubble to cover the indestructible Nazi college that sat there before it. It is nicknamed ‘Devil’s Mountain’ as it is the highest point in Berlin (reaching 120m above sea-level), and because of it’s gruesome history.The globes perched on top were once spy stations used by the British and Americans to spy on the East German soviets during the cold war. Today, they are nothing more than a space of artists to hang out, paint and even live.   It’s possible to break in but I didn’t. I paid the €7 entrance fee reluctantly as it wasn’t clear who the money was going to or why. It wasn’t easy. The guy at the entrance was clearly faking his broken-English (and wouldn’t communicate in my broken-German) and refused to tell me who he was or what company he worked for. He said we needed to pay because it was a private property and we weren’t allowed to enter unless we were artists who have been commissioned. I wasn’t looking for a fight and despite knowing it was a shifty scenario, I paid because we were short on time.From my perspective, the main attraction was the graffiti and art, plastered to every piece of decaying structure. As street art goes, I’ve seen better in central Berlin but to see so much of it in a confined place was striking, especially along side the rubble and tree houses.Now, here’s the reason I found the whole experience disappointing: We had hiked through the forest for almost four hours, the sun was setting and we were excited to get that famous picture at the top of the spy tower sitting in the bathtub. You know what I mean, the picture the instagrammers get. I wanted that. Unfortunately, despite paying the €7 entrance fee, there was nobody to guide us or signs telling us where to go. Nothing. It was basically a big pile of rubble sitting on top of an even bigger pile of rubble. At this point I realised the guys who I gave my money to were probably scammers.And I know, the lack of signs or guides is probably a good thing. It means the entire thing feels more underground and less touristy but a little indication would have been nice, especially since I paid. Anyway, after about half an hour of wandering around, we lost hope of finding the door that would lead us to the top of the dome-things and left.When I visit Berlin again (because I will!), I’ll make another attempt of trying to climb to the top of the spy stations and when I do, I’ll be the first blogger with a step-by-step guide and a hand-drawn map of how to do it for all the other clueless individuals. Oh, and I’ll try and sneak in next time.


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