Tag Archives: View

Teufelsberg – A Return To The Devil’s Mountain

A dome on the roof and the view from the former NSA Listening Station at Teufelsberg in Berlin

Berlin was cold but sunny yesterday and when a friend had the ‘crazy idea’ to walk up the Teufelsberg I didn’t take much persuading.

The Teufelsberg (Devil’s Mountain) is a hill in the Grunewald forest in Berlin and is most famous for the former NSA Listening Station that sits at its peak.

As we walked from Grunewald S-Bahnhof I recounted the story of my previous trip to Teufelsberg in August 2010.  Then, the Grunewald lived up to its name (Green Forest) but yesterday the predominant colour was white, the snow laying thick on the ground.

Having reached the top of the Teufelsberg we walked around the perimeter fence of the former NSA facility occasionally stopping to look up at the domes looming high above us.

A dome of the former NSA Listening Station at Teufelsberg in Berlin seen through the perimeter fence

On the Western slope of the hill we came across a group of sledgers, skiers and snowboarders enjoying the snow on the Rodelberg (the best translation from Google is toboggan mountain).

When we reached the main gates of the former NSA Listening station a guide was preparing to take a group of visitors on a tour and on a whim we decided to join them.

For €7 (or a reduced price of €5 for students) our guide led us to the main building in the complex and up the highest tower.

The main change to the building since my last visit was the addition of lots of great Street Art (much of it created for the aborted Artbase 2012 event) – so much in fact that I will post about it separately.

Our first stop as we climbed the tower was the highest floor with a view over Berlin.

Looking down on buildings at the former NSA Listening Station at Teufelsberg in Berlin

Tattered sheeting and the Wannsee from the highest tower of the former NSA Listening Station at Teufelsberg in Berlin

Olympiastadion (the Olympic Stadium) and a factory from the former NSA Listening Station at Teufelsberg in Berlin

Then it was up to the top dome, with its incredible acoustics, where we were treated to an impromptu performance from a singer who was there when we arrived.

Our guide (off camera in the video) then took up the baton and gave his own performance.

As we descended we stopped on the roof of the main building for more photo opportunities and as luck would have it we had timed it perfectly to see some wonderful colours in the sky as the sun began to set.

A dome on the roof and the view from the former NSA Listening Station at Teufelsberg in Berlin

A dome and the setting sun on the roof of the former NSA Listening Station at Teufelsberg in Berlin

Pink sky and a dome on the roof of the former NSA Listening Station at Teufelsberg in Berlin

And then it was time to leave.

The main dome tower at the former NSA Listening Station at Teufelsberg in Berlin

An outbuilding and dome at the former NSA Listening Station at Teufelsberg in Berlin

A dome tower at sunset at the former NSA Listening Station at Teufelsberg in Berlin

I think that €7 is a small price to pay for the wonderful views over Berlin and the opportunity to walk around the former NSA Listening Station at Teufelsberg but the adrenaline rush of sneaking through the fence on my previous visit was sadly missing.

Berlin Skyline – The View From the Parkdeck of Neukölln Arcaden

Berlin Skyline - The view from the Parkdeck of the Neukölln Arcaden

Having spent the afternoon in Neukölln the other week having a burger at Berlin Burger International and checking out the abandoned Children’s Hospital, I decided to make the most of ‘Golden Hour’ (the hour before sunset) and returned to the Parkdeck of the Neukölln Arcaden for a great free view of the Berlin skyline.

I first came to check out the Berlin skyline at night with Digital Cosmonaut back in October and have been meaning to return to the roof of the parking garage of this Neukölln shopping centre for some daylight shots since.

Berlin Skyline - The view from the Parkdeck of the Neukölln Arcaden

Berlin Skyline - The view from the Parkdeck of the Neukölln Arcaden

Berlin Skyline - The view from the Parkdeck of the Neukölln Arcaden

The Parkdeck of the Neukölln Arcaden is a great place to watch the sunset over Berlin and I will be back again in the summer with a couple of beers for a repeat performance.

Snapshot: Berlin Skyline at Night from dem Französischen Dom

The Berlin skyline at night From Der Französischer Dom (French Cathedral) on Gendarmenmarkt

This shot of the Berlin skyline at night was taken form the viewing platform of the Französischer Dom (French Cathedral) on Gendarmenmarkt as I took photos of the Weihnachtsmarkt Zauber for my Christmas Markets in Berlin – 5 Stars post.

The Berlin Skyline At Night: The view from the Neukölln Arcaden

The Berlin skyline at night from the roof of the parking garage of the Neukölln Arcaden

The roof of the parking garage at the Neukölln Arcaden shopping centre may seem like an unlikely place to include in a ‘must-see Berlin‘ list but when you see the view of the Berlin skyline from there it starts to make sense.

This viewpoint features in the book ‘111 Orte in Berlin, Die Man Gesehen Haben Muss‘ (111 Places in Berlin You Have to See), an interesting book (though a struggle for me to understand with my poor German) with some unusual suggestions.

Having discovered the joys of night photography when capturing the spectacle of the Berlin Festival of Lights I jumped at the chance of a night-time photo walk with Digital Cosmonaut and suggested the Neukölln Arcaden.

The Berlin skyline at night from the roof of the parking garage of the Neukölln Arcaden

The Berlin skyline at night from the roof of the parking garage of the Neukölln Arcaden

The Berlin skyline at night from the roof of the parking garage of the Neukölln Arcaden

I will certainly return to the roof of the Neukölln Arcaden to take more photos – it’s rare to find such a great view for free.  It will be good to see how the skyline looks when the Fernsehturm isn’t lit up for the Festival of Lights and I’d also like to capture the scene in daylight.

Berlin From Above: The Sunset From The Fernsehturm

The Sunset over Berlin from the Fernehturm (TV Tower) at Alexanderplatz

A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to take a VIP trip up the Fernsehturm in Berlin’s Alexanderplatz and to make it even more special I got to watch the sunset form Berlin’s highest vantage point.

I had been out for the afternoon with my friend Bine doing the Schnitzeljagd (Scavenger Hunt) around the Berlin of the middle ages.  The Schnitzeljagd is part of Berlin’s 775th Anniversary celebrations, which also includes an exhibition celebrating the City of Diversity on the Schlossplatz.

Berlin and the River Spree from the Fernehturm (TV Tower) at Alexanderplatz

I had been up the Fernsehturm once before during a holiday in 2010 but I have to say that getting the VIP treatment (no queuing necessary) made this extra special.

At 368m high the Fernsehturm (German for TV Tower) dominates the skyline in Berlin, a generally flat city, and is therefore a useful landmark to navigate by.

The lifts take just 40 seconds to reach the observation deck, travelling at approximately 6 metres per second, which somehow doesn’t feel fast at all, and from there you have a wonderful 360° view of Berlin.

The Volksbühne and surrounding area in Berlin from the Fernehturm (TV Tower) at Alexanderplatz

It was strange to look down on the Sun Deck of the Park Inn Hotel, another great place to look out over Berlin, which is where I watched the sunset for this post.

The Park Inn Sun Deck (Dachterasse) in Berlin from the Fernehturm (TV Tower) at Alexanderplatz

As we had spent much of the afternoon on the Schnitzeljagd, the light was already beginning to change when we climbed the Fernsehturm and it wasn’t long before Berlin was bathed in a beautiful golden light.

Golden light over Berlin from the Fernehturm (TV Tower) at Alexanderplatz

And not long after that the sun began to sink and gold turned to orange.

The Sunset over Berlin from the Fernehturm (TV Tower) at Alexanderplatz

The Sunset over Berlin from the Fernehturm (TV Tower) at Alexanderplatz

The Sunset over Berlin from the Fernehturm (TV Tower) at Alexanderplatz

The Sunset over Berlin from the Fernehturm (TV Tower) at Alexanderplatz

Once the sun dipped below the horizon, a pinkish hue appeared in the sky.

The Sunset over Berlin from the Fernehturm (TV Tower) at Alexanderplatz

This was a magical experience and I will certainly return to the Fernsehturm to take more pictures in daylight.

If you’re in Berlin, it is well worth visiting the Fernsehturm to see spectacular views over Berlin and if you can time it so that you get to see the sunset too, you won’t be disappointed.

Sunset Over Berlin: The view from the Park Inn on Alexanderplatz

Sunset over Berlin: The view from the Sun Terrace of the Park Inn on Alexanderplatz

I’ve been meaning to check out the view from the Sun Terrace of the Park Inn Hotel on Alexanderplatz since @SandyInBerlin tweeted a link to a post about it on Just Travelous.

So when Luci from In A Berlin Minute was scouting a location for her next video last week I joined her.

The Sun Terrace is on the 40th floor of the hotel and accessed by taking Lift A to the 37th floor and following the directions up the stairs from there.  The €3 entrance fee is a small price to pay for the view it buys you.

And what a view it is.

Whilst I enjoyed the view from the Siegessäule and the Französischer Dom (both of which also cost €3) the proximity of the Fernsehturm made this just a little bit more special.  The changing light before and after sunset made Berlin look even more beautiful than usual.

Fernsehturm through netting: The view from the Sun Terrace of the Park Inn on Alexanderplatz

Sunset through netting: The view from the Sun Terrace of the Park Inn on Alexanderplatz

Pink Light Over Berlin: The view from the Sun Terrace of the Park Inn on Alexanderplatz

Fernsehturm at dusk: The view from the Sun Terrace of the Park Inn on Alexanderplatz

Berlin: The view from the Sun Terrace of the Park Inn on Alexanderplatz

Watching: The view from the Sun Terrace of the Park Inn on Alexanderplatz

Berlin at night: The view from the Sun Terrace of the Park Inn on Alexanderplatz

Rotes Rathaus at night: The view from the Sun Terrace of the Park Inn on Alexanderplatz

Berlin at night: The view from the Sun Terrace of the Park Inn on Alexanderplatz

Sunset Over Wannsee

A swan shows off for the camera during the sunset over the lake at Wannsee in Berlin

After spending the sunny part of Saturday being silly and getting sunburnt at Slow Travel Berlin’s sports day for adults, the Slowlympics, watching the sunset over the Wannsee from a small sandy beach was a relaxing way to end the day.

Berlin has many lakes and on sunny summer days Berliners flock to them to sunbathe and swim.  Wannsee is the first Berlin lake that I have visited (unless you count drinking at Café am Neuen See in the Tiergarten) but James and Zoë from überlin make a compelling case for a trip to Schlachtensee.

The sunset over the lake at Wannsee in Berlin

The sunset over the lake at Wannsee in Berlin

The sunset over the lake at Wannsee in Berlin

The sunset over the lake at Wannsee in Berlin

Waterskiers make the most of the day's last light and swans swim in the foreground during the sunset over the lake at Wannsee in Berlin

The Reichstag – A Berlin Phoenix From the Flames

The Reichstag from the Platz der Republik in Berlin

The view from the roof of the Reichstag must be one of the best free views in Berlin.

I first visited the Reichstag on my first full day in Berlin in 2009.  It was a gorgeous, sunny day and I got up early in the morning and queued on the steps to get in.  Unfortunately, the dome was closed for cleaning and renovation.  Fast forward to 2012 and a new booking system has been introduced.  It is no longer possible to just turn up – a visit must be booked online at least two days in advance.

So when the weather app on my phone suggested that we were in for a few days of sunny weather I booked my visit.  But my weather app let me down and when the day of my visit arrived it was grey and raining, however, as I was booked in I made the trip anyway.

The Reichstag, built to house the German parliament, was formally opened on 5 December 1894 but shortly after the Nazis came to power in 1933 it was ravaged by fire.

During the years of division, the parliamentary seat of the Bundesrepublik Deutschland (West Germany) was in Bonn but following reunification the Bundestag (German parliament) voted to return the seat of power to BerlinSir Norman Foster was selected to draw up the plans for the reconstruction of the building and the Reichstag resumed its function as the parliamentary home in 1999, complete with a spectacular glass domed roof.

The glass dome on the roof of the Reichstag from Platz des 18. Mai in Berlin

The cupola is 40 metres in diameter and a spiralling walkway allows visitors to climb to a viewing platform below the opening in its roof.

The spiralling walkway of the dome of the Reichstag in Berlin

Tourists passing the German flag as they climb the dome of the Reichstag in Berlin

The opening allows stale air to escape from the plenary chamber below and the light sculpture, a cone of 360 mirrors, reflects light back down reducing the energy needed to light the chamber.

The light sculpture in the dome of the Reichstag in Berlin

A giant sunshade rotates with the movement of the sun to reduce the glare of the reflected light.

The light sculpture and sunshade in the dome of the Reichstag in Berlin

The energy needs of the building are also served by 300 square metres of solar panels on the roof.

Even on a rainy day the elevated position affords some wonderful views over Berlin.

The Federal Chancellery from the dome of the Reichstag in Berlin

On a clear day you can see far into the distance and pick out many of Berlin’s landmark buildings with the help of the leaflet ‘Outlooks Berlin panorama: View from the dome’ available in the reception area.

The Carillion and Tiergarten in the foreground and Funkturm (West Berlin’s TV Tower) in the background.

The Carillion and Tiergarten in the foreground and Funkturm (West Berlin’s TV Tower) in the background

The Siegessäule rising from the Tiergarten and in the far distance the former NSA listening station at Teufelsberg.

The Siegessäule rising from the Tiergarten and in the far distance the former NSA listening station at Teufelsberg in Berlin

An audio guide is also available free of charge and provides a commentary to accompany the climb up to the top of the dome and the return to the roof.

The German flag flies from three of the four corners of the roof.  The flag of the European Union flies from the other corner.

The German flag flying on the roof of the Reichstag in Berlin

The stonework around the roof space is decorated with some very impressive statues and figureheads.

A carved figurehead in the stonework around the roof of the Reichstag in Berlin

Visits to the Reichstag in Berlin can be booked on the Bundestag website and don’t forget to take photo id with you on your visit.

Berliner Dom (Berlin Cathedral)

The Berliner Dom (Berlin Cathedral) from the Lustgarten with the Fernsehturm in the background

I’m not a religious person but I’ve always been drawn to churches and cathedrals for their architecture and character.  The Berliner Dom (Berlin Cathedral) is certainly an impressive sight and one of Berlin’s iconic landmarks.

Located as it is on the Museuminsel (Museum Island), the cathedral is guaranteed a high footfall and anyone walking past will notice the imposing dome.  Of course, those visiting the museums are also likely to appreciate the history of this grand church.

As with the Französicher Dom, this has never been the seat of a bishop so is not technically a cathedral, but the name persists.

The current cathedral building was consecrated in 1905, though the existence of a cathedral on the site can be traced back through various incarnations to 1465.  The building did not escape damage during the war though and a bomb that struck the dome started a fire that led to the dome collapsing into the church below.  A more detailed history can be found on the Berliner Dom website.

As the midday prayer service was in progress when I entered the building today I decided to explore from the top down and headed straight for the viewing gallery.

I was very disappointed to notice, as I climbed the staircases and navigated the narrow corridors en route to the viewing gallery, that some who had gone before me had written on the walls in marker pen and biro.  I’m very drawn to Street Art and Graffiti but I can’t understand why anyone would feel the need to scrawl their name on the walls in a cathedral.  Thankfully, it’s not in a part of the cathedral used for worship but all the same, why?

Re-emerging into the sunlight after the 270-step climb, I was greeted by a wonderful view of the Rotes Rathaus (the Red City Hall), another of Berlin’s iconic buildings.

The Rotes Rathaus (Red City Hall) from the viewing balcony on the roof of the Berliner Dom (Berlin Cathedral)

As I circled the dome I found that there were memorable views in every direction and some impressive statues.  I was pleased to find out that I’m not the only one fascinated by the Fernsehturm (TV Tower).

A statue on the roof of the Berliner Dom (Berlin Cathedral) appears to gaze at the Fernsehturm (TV Tower)

On my way back to terra firma I checked out the Cathedral Museum, with its models of the building, both outside and in, and models of some of the statues.

Down another staircase and there was a door to a balcony offering a view over the floor of the cathedral.

Having walked back down to the ground floor, the first thing that struck me as I entered the Sermon Nave of the church was the spectacular domed ceiling.  Shortly after which my eye was drawn to the altar and chancel, with its intricate stained glass depictions of the Birth, Crucifixion and Resurrection.

The Baptismal and Matrimonial Chapel and the pulpit are also worthy of some close attention.

Down again and I entered the crypt and an extensive collection of sarcophagi, the most touching of which for me was that of the ‘namenlose prinzessin’ (unnamed princess), daughter of Prince Adalbert of Prussia, who was born and died on 4 September 1915.

After that for me it was the usual ‘Exit Through The Gift Shop’.

Berliner Dom, Am Lustgarten; Entrance Fee – €7; Audio guides available – €3.

A statue on the roof of the Berliner Dom (Berlin Cathedral)

A Cross on the roof of the Berliner Dom (Berlin Cathedral) and the Lustgarten in the background

Looking up inside the dome of the Berliner Dom (Berlin Cathedral)

The Altar and Chancel in the Berliner Dom (Berlin Cathedral)

Siegessäule (Gold Else) – Berlin’s Victory Column

Gold Else, a statue of the goddess of victory, atop the Siegessäule (Victory Column) in Berlin

After a successful trip to the Französischer Dom I decided it was time to tackle the Siegessäule (Victory Column) and get some more great views over Berlin.

Known by the locals as Gold Else (Berliners have a fondness for giving their public buildings nicknames), the column is topped by a gilded bronze statue of the Roman goddess of victory, Victoria.  The column was renovated in 2011 at a cost of EUR 4 Million.

The construction of the Siegessäule began in 1865 to commemorate a Prussian victory over Denmark in 1864.  The statue of Victoria was not part of the original plans but was added later, as by the time the work was completed in 1873 there were further victories over Austria and France in 1866 and 1871 to be celebrated.

The Siegessäule was moved to its current position on the Grosser Stern, a roundabout (albeit a very grand one) in the Tiergarten, in accordance with Albert Speer’s plans for Hitler’s new Germania.  This move from the Platz der Republik (then known as Königsplatz), in front of the Reichstag, saved the column from destruction during the bombing raids of World War II.

There are light installations in the four tunnels leading from the surrounding roads to the Grosser Stern (Great Star).  The lights are activated by movement in front of cameras mounted in the opposite wall.  An unexpected find, I enjoyed these almost as much as the Siegessäule itself.

Light Installations under the Grosser Stern in the tunnels leading to the Siegessäule (Victory Column) in Berlin

Entrance to the viewing platform, reached by climbing the 285 steps of a tight and winding staircase is EUR 3.

Having reached the viewing platform a little breathless from the climb I was buffeted by the wind and assaulted by the cold on emerging 60 metres up.  I had to pop back inside the staircase when I needed to change the lenses on my camera, as my hands were so cold when I took off my gloves.

But for views like these over the Tiergarten and the city beyond, EUR 3 and cold hands is a small price to pay.

The view towards Berlin Mitte from the Siegessäule (Victory Column) in Berlin

The view along Strasse des 17 Juni to the Brandenburg Gate (Brandenburger Tor) and Mitte from the Siegessäule (Victory Column) in Berlin

The view over The Spree and Tiergarten from the Siegessäule (Victory Column) in Berlin

I’d like to come back to climb the Siegessäule again in the summer when I’ll be able to spend a bit more time appreciating the spectacular views over Berlin.