Berlin, a great introduction

Teufelsberg, a must for urban exploration

Recently I spent a long weekend in Berlin a city that, due to its unique history, for a long time was a mecca for squatters and urban explorers alike. Obviously the war caused a lot of chaos in Berlin, abandoned buildings, air raid and anti-aircraft towers, numerous bunkers – but what makes this still relevant is that the wall which then divided the city, slowed down a lot of re-building and created vast pockets of unusable land. Even though its now 25years since the wall came down and Berlin is now a modern cosmopolitan city, there are still many empty gaps.

For a novice urban explorer this is a great city to cut your teeth, so to speak! There are lots of  underground guided tours, like this excellent one of  a World War 2 flak tower, to give you a feel for the conditions of exploration in a controlled environment, and an understanding of the equipment needed. I loved this tour of Berlin Templehof, the vast former airport (once on of the 20 biggest buildings in the world) that played a huge role in the war and keeping West Berlin going through the Berlin blockade, and is now a public area – the tour takes you through some of the tunnels that were used for ammunition storage, and the secret film bunker, but really its seeing from inside the vastness of the space that was exciting.

Once you’ve experienced exploration, the next natural calling point is Teufelsberg Hil – the former home of American cold war spying. this crumbling listening station in Grunewald is a great place to spend an afternoon clambering about and wondering what passed through the now graffitied walls. Supposedly locked off, this is regularly and easily accessed, and a safe place to start unguided.

My advice – get to Berlin , it won’t stay like this for too much longer.

 

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