Teufelsberg: Top Secret Military Base Serves as Tourist Attraction
Former US Spy Stations near Berlin is Becoming a Growing Tourist AttractionSeptember 22nd, 2014
A former United States listening station in Berlin is experiencing a boom in visitor numbers since the NSA spying scandal hit world headlines.
As Berlin-fever lures tourists to the German capital all year round, more daring tourists are drawn to some unlikely places, like Teufelsberg, one of several former top-secret military facilities erected by the Western Allies during the Cold War.
Often seen as one of Berlin’s “best abandoned sites,” Teufelsberg has been a destination for adventurous types seeking a secret mission of their own.
Since its closure in the early 1990s, hordes of Berliners and out-of-towers risked the trespassing fine and illegally slipped through the fence to explore. Some took photos and others drank beers high in the antenna tower, watching the sunset over Grünewald forest.
But the old days of sneaking in are over. In 2012, a Cologne investment company which owns the site, handed it over to the current tenant, Shalmon Abraham. Troubled by the danger the site posed – and its development purgatory – Abraham decided to let the people in, this time legally.
With the help of volunteers and the Association of Berlin Teufelsberg, the former field station has been cleaned up and transformed into an all-out tourist attraction, offering historical and sightseeing tours seven days a week for €15 per head.
Abraham organizes the tours. He also rents out the site for photo shoots, filming and special events, and invites graffiti and street artists to use it as a canvas. There’s even an urban gardening project sprouting up around the derelict premises.
Teufelsberg is no stranger to transition. The original site was used for a never-completed Nazi military technical school. After World War II, the hill that is Teufelsberg was erected from approximately 75,000,000 cubic meters of collected rubble from Berlin.
In the late 1950s, the NSA built the field station on the plateau of the hill, where it operated before closing in 1991.
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