Teufelsberg: A Graffiti Paradise at an Abandoned Spy Station

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“I know! Let’s go hike through the snow, up a mountain, to an abandoned spy building to see some graffiti!”

I think I started turning a bit nutty while in Berlin. Who was this person and what did they do with warm weather Erica? Was I really willing to go through an impending snowstorm to head to Teufelsberg? Apparently I was.

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It must have rubbed off on me here as Berliners are some of the most resilient people I’ve ever seen. Dog walks, jogs, hikes, and beer runs will take place in the heaviest snowfall. Nothing will stop these people from having a social life!

In preparation, we got some advice from people living in Berlin about how to get there. It is somewhat of an off the beaten path location and there aren’t really any specific directions on getting to Teufelsberg if you’re planning on walking it.

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“Oh, once you get off at Gruneswald, you will see it. Just walk in that direction.”

So we did… except… you can’t see anything BECAUSE THERE IS A GIANT FOREST IN FRONT OF YOU. The hill isn’t that big!

After some wandering, we figured out that when you get off of the S-Bahn stop you need go under the highway and through the park. There is a map that will give you an idea of where it is. Just keep walking and once you have made it mostly through the giant forest, you can catch a glimpse of the tower to confirm that you’re going the right way or give you new bearings to follow. Soon after you will cross a paved road at the base of the hill. From there you just meander your way to the top on the gazillion intertwining walking trails. There is no wrong way and they all generally head you in the right direction. It should take you no longer than 30-45 minutes from the train station to the gate.

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Once you get to the top you have two choices:

1. Yell for someone at the front gate to let you in. They charge you 7 EUR and will give you an hour to explore and/or do a tour. No one is really sure if these guys are official or if these graffiti artists are taking it upon themselves to make extra money. They even give you a stamp on your hand so the other “security” people in the abandoned buildings don’t give you hell.

2. Break in. There are many holes in the gate around the property that you can slip into. Note that they are always patching them up so you either have to a) bring bolt cutters or b) revert to number 1. The guy who eventually let us in initially threatened us with a 90 EUR fine for trespassing when he saw us meandering around the perimeter (there was no one at the front when we arrived). Luckily he turned out to be a really nice guy who let us explore unsupervised.

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However, the biggest plus about making the trek on a snowy weekday is that we were the ONLY people at Teufelsberg. We had this abandoned playground to ourselves.

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If you come, plan for at least an hour. There is so much to see – it is a photogasm waiting to happen. Just make sure to avoid certain buildings due to toxic gas leaks and rotting wooden boards that could give way at any time and you have your own paradise.

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And while the biggest draw is the graffiti, one of the best parts awaits you at the top of the tower. After climbing 6 or 7 floors in pitch black staircases, you come to an acoustic dome (where they would do all the spying). This place will echo for 9+ seconds. It really screws with your head when you can hear yourself breathing as if you’re standing next to yourself.

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It was when we got up here that we noticed how bad the snowstorm was becoming. High winds and horizontal snow got me a little concerned. Between the snowstorm in Iceland and this snowy fiasco, I turned to Shaun in horror and said, “This is how people get killed. Why do we keep doing things like this?!” We headed back down in a hurry and rushed to the front gate.

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This is when we realized that maybe it wasn’t a good thing that we were the only ones here. The exit gate was locked. There was no one in sight. After 10 minutes of shouting “HELLOOOOOO!” Shaun took it upon himself to look for a sign of life as the snowflakes accumulated on our jackets. After dragging away an artist in full painting gear (he looked straight out of Contagion), we left, full of smiles as we lifted our faces to the sky to catch snowflakes on our tongues, happily kicking up snow on our way back.

I didn’t regret a thing.

Have you ever been determined to have an adventure – no matter the outcome?

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Teufelsberg Berlin abandoned buildings

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***And a HUGE thanks to Kirsten Alana of Aviators and a Camera for reminding me about this awesome place and getting me off my butt to take pics.***

67 Responses to “Teufelsberg: A Graffiti Paradise at an Abandoned Spy Station”

  1. Cate Brubaker April 3, 2013 at 1:05 pm #

    Good Gawd, woman! These are stunning photos! What kind of equipment/editing software do you use?

    • Erica April 16, 2013 at 8:58 am #

      Nikon D300S and a shitty kit lens. It makes me wonder what kind of pics I can take with better gear!

  2. Kirsten April 3, 2013 at 1:15 pm #

    DEFINITE thumbs up on StumbleUpon!! And soo glad I reminded you to go 😉 Your photos of the place are stunning. I had to rush through it so mine are not as grand but the memory of the place will always stay with me. It’s paradise for people like us.

    • Erica April 16, 2013 at 8:58 am #

      Thank you lady! I’m glad to see you poking your head around here! xoxo

  3. Leigh April 3, 2013 at 2:10 pm #

    I can see why you’re so proud of this post. Wow! Fabulous photos – full of such feeling. The place looks like something out of a movie set with a very dark theme. What a time to go when there was no one around.

    • Erica April 16, 2013 at 8:59 am #

      Thank you! It was a bit surreal to be there. I had always wanted to scout out abandoned buildings. I’m surprised that I hadn’t done it before.

  4. jennifer April 3, 2013 at 2:11 pm #

    WOW! These pictures would have been incredible all on their own, but with the added abandoned feel, they are just that much more stunning! It looks like you were walking around inside of a comic book. So beautiful.

    • Erica April 16, 2013 at 8:59 am #

      …and then add the snowfall and it was like a crazy movie. It was a fantastic experience to have.

  5. indah nuria April 3, 2013 at 2:25 pm #

    I gotta see this place myself!…AWESOME PICS must be great to come and visit…

    • Erica April 16, 2013 at 9:00 am #

      DO IT! And thanks for your kind words. I was a fan!

  6. Caroline Eubanks April 3, 2013 at 3:33 pm #

    LOVE LOVITY LOVE THIS! People told me about this place but I never got around to going. I love graffiti and street art and am very jeal I never made it out. Fantastic photos, though.

    • Erica April 16, 2013 at 9:00 am #

      <3 I had seen pictures of this place the last time we were in Berlin and we had run out of time before seeing it. I'm glad we had the chance this time! I have a small street art ADDICTION.

  7. Debbie Beardsley @ European Travelista April 3, 2013 at 4:43 pm #

    I’ll admit it, I’m not the biggest fan of graffiti BUT I think I just turned into one! To say these are beautiful just seems so underrated. They are really spectacular. This sounds like a fun adventure. I think the snow may have added to the ambiance!

    • Erica April 16, 2013 at 9:01 am #

      I think you just need to find the right artist. 😛 Some of these art works really blew me away.

  8. Iain Mallory April 3, 2013 at 5:31 pm #

    Wow may never understand why spy stations always seem to have oversized golf but it’s being put to much better use now.

    Some of that artwork is absolutely amazing, lucky you to have had the chance to witness it. Great job sharing it.

    • Erica April 16, 2013 at 9:02 am #

      HAHA. They are great acoustically to hear people to spy on them. 😛

      Thanks for dropping by Iain!

  9. Kenin Bassart April 3, 2013 at 5:50 pm #

    This is some really great stuff! Not only are the pictures beautiful, but you managed to capture the feeling of the place as well.
    LOVE IT!!!

    • Erica April 16, 2013 at 9:02 am #

      Thanks Kenin! I’m so glad we got to have the whole place to ourselves. It was AMAZING.

  10. Sofie April 4, 2013 at 2:21 am #

    Those final pics are awesome!
    Such art work!
    Are they actually doing stuff to preserve the building? Because it does sound strange to pay 7 euros for something that’s actually out of use…

    • Erica April 16, 2013 at 9:04 am #

      Well, that is where it gets really sketchy. No, they aren’t restoring the building. No, we’re not sure they are even official. Yes, they have been known to get violent depending on what “guard” you get if you break in. Yes, someone owns the property and knows they are there charging people.

      Now, what that means… your guess is as good as mine.

  11. TammyOnTheMove April 4, 2013 at 4:40 am #

    Looooove those graffities! What a cool place. Can’t wait to go to Berlin next week.

    • Erica April 16, 2013 at 9:04 am #

      I’ve been trying to keep up with your adventures!

  12. Patrick Smith April 4, 2013 at 9:05 am #

    This is so cool!!!! I have never heard of it. We are planning a trip to Berlin next year, and I just put this on the agenda! Thank you!

    • Erica April 16, 2013 at 9:04 am #

      Awesome Patrick! It will definitely be worth a peek AND you will be able to see new artwork in place!

  13. Twyla April 4, 2013 at 11:03 am #

    Awesome photos and wonderful account of your time there. I love getting to catch glimpses of all the things you get to see!

    • Erica April 16, 2013 at 9:05 am #

      Thanks lady! I’m glad that you came by to comment. I’m starting to think that no one cares about our adventures anymore! <3 Hope baby, hubby, and you are doing swimmingly!

  14. Bethany April 4, 2013 at 11:13 am #

    Great shots and great artwork – wow!

    • Erica April 16, 2013 at 9:05 am #

      Yeah…. I can only imagine how long you would have been there!

  15. Sarah April 4, 2013 at 11:16 am #

    AWESOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOME! Such an amazing variety of graffiti!

    • Erica April 16, 2013 at 9:06 am #

      *SQUEE!*

      It makes you realize how lame it is in Austin, right?

  16. Nicole April 4, 2013 at 12:01 pm #

    Brilliant photos, Erica!

    I’d love to explore this spy station – if not for the graffiti but just to say I’d been to it. Though I’d probably be a fool and pretend I was a spy the whole time ^^;

    Keep up the great photography!

    • Erica April 16, 2013 at 9:06 am #

      HAHA! There are some really shady parts that you have to be careful of rotting under your feet but other than that it is a mostly safe place to visit!

  17. Randy Bullis April 4, 2013 at 3:51 pm #

    Amazing! Not a fan of graffiti in general but his is quite stunning. Almost as beautiful as the photographer.

    • Erica April 16, 2013 at 9:07 am #

      <3

      I had to conjure up more courage than usual for this "assignment". I'm not a fan of dark hallways and stairs leading to the unknown but I'm glad I did it.

  18. Emily in Chile April 4, 2013 at 7:18 pm #

    These photos are incredible! Having just taken some pictures in grey weather, I know how hard it can be to actually make colors pop and avoid having everything just look washed out and depressing. These are moody and still crazy colorful – fabulous!

    • Erica April 16, 2013 at 9:08 am #

      Thanks Emily. I tried really hard to grab the essence because there were quite a few pics that were completely washed out. It is hard!

  19. Emily of Roads Less Traveled April 5, 2013 at 2:26 pm #

    What amazing photos. Just stunning!! What an incredible place. And what a wacky time to be there!!!

    Have I ever been determined to have an adventure, no matter the outcome?

    Well, I’ve been determined to reach my destination, no matter the adventure, and been totally thrilled by the outcome: http://roadslesstraveled.us/crossing-the-gulf-of-tehuantepec-mexico-westbound-puerto-chiapas-to-huatulco/

    • Erica April 16, 2013 at 9:11 am #

      AWESOME! Thank you for sharing Emily!

  20. cosmoHallitan April 6, 2013 at 1:59 am #

    Great photos! I love the slightly creepy vibe from the grey weather. This place would be an awesome laser tag venue.

    • Erica April 16, 2013 at 9:12 am #

      It was a bit creepy – I will definitely admit that. The fact that we were alone and it was echo-y gave me the creeps.

      Shaun already was thinking of laser tag/paintballing but half the place is rotting and would be extremely dangerous. (I’m a negative Nancy)

  21. Laurence April 6, 2013 at 7:27 am #

    Can’t believe I’ve not made it here on my visits to Berlin. Astounding photography, great work!

    • Erica April 16, 2013 at 9:12 am #

      I know where you plan on heading in the future…

  22. Arti April 7, 2013 at 1:19 am #

    This is just so cool! I mean the graffiti is just so colorful and beautiful! And it must have been quite an experience to be in that Echo Room!

    • Erica April 16, 2013 at 9:13 am #

      We only spent about 10 minutes in the echo room because you start to lose your mind a bit after a while. It was pretty amazing though.

  23. Ayngelina April 7, 2013 at 1:04 pm #

    Amazing photos and just one more reason I need to go to Berlin.

    • Erica April 16, 2013 at 9:13 am #

      Among the billions of other amazing reasons. I love Berlin!

  24. Stephanie - The Travel Chica April 7, 2013 at 1:52 pm #

    “Let’s go hike through the snow, up a mountain, to an abandoned spy building to see some graffiti”…. sounds like something I would say :-)

    • Erica April 16, 2013 at 9:14 am #

      Glad to be in good company. There is always room for adventure!

  25. Andrew April 7, 2013 at 4:45 pm #

    Crazy! Seriously crazy.
    Especially the bit about the “entrance fees”.

    • Erica April 16, 2013 at 9:15 am #

      Yeah, there is a lot of shady stuff goin’ around. I just pay and ignore everything. I don’t want to know. Just let me in.

  26. Camels & Chocolate April 7, 2013 at 11:35 pm #

    I’m not usually overly wild about HDR, but these are beautiful! Well done. Love em.

    • Erica April 16, 2013 at 9:16 am #

      Thank you lady! (You’re the only one who really noticed.)

  27. Alex April 8, 2013 at 10:25 pm #

    Beautiful images! I love that there was some random guy charging admission. Reminds me of here in Southeast Asia where someone will have a card table set up outside a waterfall charging a fee!

    • Erica April 16, 2013 at 9:16 am #

      They have been known to lash out at people breaking in so we wanted to play it safe. 😛

  28. Federico April 10, 2013 at 10:33 am #

    A spy station…that sounds cool enough already :)

  29. Pointsandtravel April 10, 2013 at 10:00 pm #

    Wow! Awesome photographs and what an adventure you guys had. Too bad I didn’t hear about this place while I was in #Berln for ITB, as I may be hard pressed to go back, accept in the dead of SUMMER!

    • Erica April 16, 2013 at 9:17 am #

      Yeah… NO MORE WINTER. I thought I was going to freeze to death at ITB.

  30. Clayton April 13, 2013 at 6:26 am #

    That is the big difference between graffiti and what I call street art. Even though it’s in a building. There is such a massive difference because you can see how much work and skill goes into what you found there vs someone tagging a building with spray paint. That is an awesome find for yall.

    • Erica April 16, 2013 at 9:17 am #

      Oh man, I hate tagging. Like, REALLY. If you’re going to paint a building, do it with something beautiful! Show that you’re an artist – not a VANDAL.

  31. Cam @ Traveling Canucks April 21, 2013 at 1:02 pm #

    Awesome photos guys. What an interesting place to spend the day. Looks like you had the place to yourself, kinda creepy!

    • Erica April 28, 2013 at 2:10 pm #

      There were insanely creepy moments at times. Huge BOOMS from the wind catching certain places made me jump.

  32. Turtle May 24, 2013 at 4:43 am #

    Wow – stunning shots! I love the contrast of the colourful graffiti on the grey dreary landscapes.

    • Erica June 2, 2013 at 7:05 pm #

      Thanks Michael! This place really inspired me.

  33. L. Rowan McKnight June 26, 2013 at 11:32 pm #

    Holy wow that is some amazing art! Excellent photography, as well. You really made the colors pop.

    • Shaun July 10, 2013 at 8:37 pm #

      Yeah, the contrast really makes the art look even more fantastic. 😀

  34. Ari January 6, 2014 at 9:12 am #

    Hi,

    how did you get that spot from Berlin city? By the S-bahn or is there some busline that get you more close?

    Nice pics, cool place.

    -Ari

    • Erica January 8, 2014 at 11:52 am #

      Oh man Ari, you made me look this up! It is on the S Bahn – Berlin-Grunewald stop and you kinda have to find your own way up there.

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