Teufelsberg: An Insider's Guide to Devil's Mountain

Photo of Megan King
12 April 2017

As part of Culture Trip’s curious world series, the team headed to Berlin to discover Teufelsberg, a former US spy station-turned-Cold War relic built on the debris of World War II.

Everyone knows that Berlin is a flat city—yet one mysterious mountain towards the western end on the city seems to stand out. This is Teufelsberg—also known as Devil’s Mountain, an artificial hill literally built on the ruins of history.

Located in the northern part of Grunewald forest, the slope is made from an estimated 12 million cubic meters (just over 42 million cubic feet) of Nazi war rubble that the allies were unable to destroy after the Second World War. This includes the debris of nearly half a million bombed houses. Every day, around 80 truckloads of broken concrete was collected, mostly by local women, and brought to the site, which stands at around 120 meters (394 feet) above sea level. These women became known as Trümmerfrauen—or ‘rubble women’—due to the nature of their work.

Eventually, a complex was built, which became the place where American and British spies went to gather information on Russian-controlled East Germany. After the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War, the station was abandoned in 1992. It was later bought by developers, who in 1996 attempted to transform the site into luxury apartments. Thankfully, spiralling costs prevented this from happening.

Today, the three bulbous white globes that formed part of the former US spy station lie deserted on the mountain, looking like structures from outer space. The complex also has two radomes sitting atop three-storey high buildings and another sitting six-storeys higher, creating a huge tower.

Teufelsburg’s future is still unclear, with rumours that it’ll become a fully functional creative space or a venue for parties. It is still privately owned, and hoards of people come each day to explore the space, which is full of rotating graffiti artworks and incredible views.

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