How to Visit Teufelsberg Abandoned Spy Station Berlin
How to Visit Teufelsberg Abandoned Spy Station Berlin

How to Visit Teufelsberg Abandoned Spy Station Berlin

Teufelsberg abandoned spy station is a quirky tourist attraction sitting atop an artificial hill in the west of Berlin.

The site has an interesting backstory and is now covered in impressive murals, making it a great place to visit if you want to learn a bit about the local history, like art or just want to see something a little different.

I spent a couple of hours checking out the Teufelsberg graffiti when I visited a friend living in the German capital.

Now I’ll share the essential info you need to know about visiting the abandoned spy station at Teufelsberg including how to get there, entry fees and a little about its history.

What is Teufelsberg abandoned spy station

A large building complex covered in graffiti art. There are two large domes atop the buildings. These are the radar domes at Tefuelsberg.

Teufelsberg is an artificial hill built in the Grunewald Forest on the western side of Berlin. It rises roughly 80 m above the surrounding area and from it you can see over the dense forest and all the way to Berlin city centre.

However, enjoyable as they are, it’s not the views that draw people to the site. Teufelsberg houses the remnants of a cold war listening station used to spy on Russian communications that has since been turned into a giant street art gallery.

The abandoned buildings and their structures, including the iconic large radar domes, have practically been covered in artistic works of graffiti.

The site is an interesting mix of history and modern art culture. I enjoyed walking around the old listening station and admiring the impressive Teufelsberg graffiti art.

While exploring, I also found the place to be a little eerie. There are no lights in the buildings and sunlight doesn’t reach inside a few. Some of the rooms are really dark and are filled with old dusty furniture and other random objects.

What does Teufelsberg mean in English?

A forest in the foreground and a city scape in the background. it's the view of Berlin from Teufelsberg abandoned spy station.

The name Teufelsberg translates to “Devil’s Mountain” in English. The hill was named after Teufelssee or “Devil’s Lake”, a small lake that sits just south of the abandoned spy station, also within the Grunewald Forest.

I’ll explain a little more about the history of Teufelsberg abandoned spy station and its graffiti art below. But first I’ll talk about the practicalities of getting there and costs.

Do you have to pay for Teufelsberg?

Yes, Teufelsberg abandoned spy station belongs to a private company that charges an entrance fee. Currently this is €8 for adults.

You can buy an entry ticket online beforehand on the Teufelsberg website, or you can pay when you arrive. If paying on arrival make sure you have cash as they don’t accept card payment on site.

Just after the front gate at the main entrance is a small ticket office with security guards. This is where you pay the entry fee.

How to get to Teufelsberg abandoned spy Station

You’ll need to take the S-Bahn and then walk for roughly 30 minutes to get to Teufelsberg. Take the S-Bahn to either Heerstraße or Grunewald train station. From either of these stations it’s then a slightly long walk at just over 2 km to the entrance of the abandoned spy station.

Depending on where in Berlin you’re coming from, the total journey time should take you around 1 h. I’ve marked journey routes on Google Maps for you.

Either route takes you along a main road before you get to Grunewald Forest. If you get off the S-Bahn at Heerstraße, then you’ll walk down Teufelsseestraße. Whereas if you get off the train at Grunewald, then you’ll zigzag along a couple of roads including Dauerwaldweg.

I recommend getting the S-Bahn to Heerstraße because it’s a direct walk to the base of Teufelsberg via Teufelsseestraße.

At the base of the hill there are trails leading up through the dense forest to the spy station. The trails twist and turn, but as long as you keep heading uphill you’ll get to the main entrance at the highest point.

However, use the map I’ve provided above to make sure you don’t wander off into the surrounding forest. Supposedly there are wild boars in the area and you don’t want a run in with one of these.

A couple walking down a brick path through a forest.

You can also drive or take a taxi to the base of Teufelsberg. There is a parking lot which costs around €5. The walk from the car park through the forest trails to the main entrance at the old spy station is roughly 1 km.

What time does the spy station open in Berlin?

Teufelsberg is open to visitors 7 days a week from 11:00 to sunset. Last admission is 1 h before sunset. If you’re planning a visit later in the day, then check what time sunset is before you leave. Here’s a link to check the sunset time in Berlin.

I recommend having at least 2 h to properly look around the site without rushing.

Going later in the day may be the best time. Although I didn’t catch the sunset at Devil’s Hill, I can imagine that on a clear day it would look amazing from the top of the Teufelsberg abandoned spy station.

Teufelsberg graffiti

The graffiti is the main reason why many people visit Teufelsberg. The site has become one of the largest street art exhibitions in the world attracting graffiti artists from all over the  globe.

You’ll find works of all sizes covering just a few centimetres to entire walls. Some of these murals blow your mind with their level of detail but also in how they were even created on the side of a building.  

The main building has 2 floors. There is a range of works spread over both levels, some with political messaging.

Graffiti depictions of Queen Elizabeth 2, Barack Obama, Angela Merkel and Vladimir Putin on a white wall at Tefueslberg abandoned spy station.

It’s amazing how the street artists have brought colour and vibrance to what would otherwise be a pretty dull, albeit historically interesting, place.  It’s even more amazing how the Teufelsberg graffiti is always changing.

The site curators work with street artists to create new graffiti once a piece has been on show for a while. Larger works, such as the murals, tend to be on display for at least a year before being replaced.  

A brief history of Teufelsberg abandoned spy station

Large domes atop. building complex. The domes are derelict. These are old radar domes at Teufelsberg abandoned spy station.

The site were teufelsberg now stands was first developed by the Nazis during WW2. Albert Speer, a prominent Nazi and famous Third Reich architect, designed a military-technical college to be built there.

Construction of the military-technical college was started but was never completed.

At the end of the war the Allies tried to destroy the buildings with explosives. But it turned out that Speer did a pretty good job as blowing up the unfinished technical college didn’t work.

However, as much of Berlin was reduced to rubble during the war, in 1950 it was decided to use the technical college as a dumping site.

Rubble from destroyed buildings in West Berlin was dumped there up until 1972. Millions of metric tonnes were piled up and the huge mound formed an artificial hill, becoming Teufelsberg.

The US National Security Agency (NSA) became interested in the site in the late 1950s and in 1963 built the listening station atop it. The United States operated the listening station throughout the height of the cold war right through to its end in 1989.

The large radar domes

A large dome atop a tower. The surrounding buildings are covered in graffiti. There is a metal iguana sculpture in the foreground.

There are 5 large radar domes on top of the buildings at Teufelsberg abandoned spy station. These interesting spheres are what initially made me want to visit. The idea behind the radar equipment was to intercept radio signals from the Soviet forces and east Germans.

After shutting down at the end of the cold war, property developers tried and failed to develop apartments and hotels on the man-made hill. Over the years the site became derelict and graffiti artists moved in.

In 2012, Graffiti Lobby Berlin built new walls at Teufelsberg to expand the available surface for street art.  

The current owner of the former NSA spy station is a company called IGTB GmbH & Co KG. They run guided tours if you want to explore Teufelsberg and learn about its history at the same time.

Extra info about Teufelsberg abandoned spy station

The inside of a dome-shaped structure. There is graffiti on the the surface of the structure.

I recommend bringing food and water with you. You’ll do a fair bit of walking over the course of the day and will need something to eat. There is a bar at Teufelsberg which serves alcoholic drinks.

It isn’t open all year round though, so check beforehand on the Teufelsberg website if you plan on having a drink there.

Also, you are allowed to take photos at Teufelsberg as long as you don’t plan on using them commercially. You need to contact the owners through the Teufelsberg website if you want to shoot commercial photography here.

Is Teufelsberg worth a visit?

Graffiti art of a small boy picking his nose. The boy is looking directly at the viewer. This is Teufelsberg graffiti art.

Teufelsberg abandoned spy station is definitely worth visiting if you like history, art or quirky places in general. I really enjoyed the huge murals in particular and so would recommend it. The old spy station is also a great spot to watch the sunset.

However, the €8 entrance fee means that I wouldn’t recommend Teufelsberg if any of the above don’t grab your attention.

I don’t think the views over the surrounding areas alone are good enough to pay for. Also, depending on when you go, there might be a lot of people as the site is quite popular now.

More adventure travel guides on A World Over

Teufelsberg abandoned spy station is a great day trip that combines aspects of Berlin’s street art culture and local history. Have fun admiring the Teufelsberg graffiti and exploring the old listening station.

Let me know in the comments if you found my guide useful and your experience exploring this abandoned Berlin gem.

Fancy an adventurous day exploring picturesque canals by kayak? Then I highly recommend doing a day trip from Berlin to Spreewald biosphere reserve.

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