MY NEAREST MOUNTAIN – CRAZY TEUFELSBERG IN BERLIN

Today, I would like to introduce you to the mountainous aspects of Berlin. Downtown there are of course some quite higher tops like Kreuzberg and Prenzlauer Berg which make me thinking of the funny film dealing about an English man who climbed on a hill and came down a mountain (that’s also the film’s title).

Postcard with view from Kreuzberg in 1866

But the nearest and more well-known and highest elevation of Berlin is Teufelsberg / Devil’s Mountain in the huge municipal forest Grunewald and just 2 km distant from my home – even with rising sea levels a safe place due to an actual height of unbelievable 120.1 m, a location which also offers an interesting and surprising history.

Deceptive idyll on Teufelsberg in June 2018

Being geologically one of the youngest mountains worldwide, the 50th birthday of the location has just passed by, a critical age where a lot may change usually in the course of times as the following pictures of the site do clearly suggest.

Today Teufelsberg a center of urban art, the very last mutation of a bizarre place.

But let’s see what happened before here. At the end of WW II you would simply find a flat forest and the bombed rests of a big building formerly used by the German Wehrmacht as a military academy. This place was lying in the British sector of (West)-Berlin where no German army was allowed till the early 1990s when the special status of the city ended with the German unification. So nobody had any use for these military ruins left by the Nazis.

Ruins of Wehrtechnische Fakultät at Teufelsseechaussee

Vast areas of the town were also destroyed as a result of WW II, so this was declared as a place where all the debris and rubble of smashed houses would be brought till the late 1960s, in total 26 million cubic meters of waste material piled up to a new mountain getting the name Teufelsberg  because the site is lying at the road Teufelsseechausee leading finally to natural lake Teufelssee.

A truck transporting rubble to Teufelsberg, December 1951

Nature took quickly control of this dump, so today the mountain is covered by a wild nature and secondary forest. And the people of West-Berlin used the new mountain also for leisure like  snow sports as it was difficult to go elsewhere for quite long time due to the Wall of Berlin surrounding them till 1989.

Ski lift on Teufelsberg (120.1 m), Winter 1961

Down the mountain’s not too long slope, December 1981

But the mountain has also been the last listening post of the Cold War. In the years 1968 the American army seized the complete top area of the mountain and erected till 1969 a radar and monitoring station for intelligence purposes such as controlling telephone conversations in the former German Democratic Republic. The secret name of these constructing and supervising ambitions was Project Filman. The last and fifth tower was built and finalized in 1989 shortly before the political transitions and opening of the Wall of Berlin. With the unificiation of Germany this complex was no longer required, the American army left the place in 1991 changing the area to a mere ghost town.

Teufelsberg radar and monitoring station by US-army in the 1980s

Path around the complex through the secondary forest, June 2018

Pioneer plants conquered the place in the time being which grew in the cracks of the asphalt and even settled on roofs. Undemanding plants such as the evening primrose, the stonecrop or the elder have laid the groundwork that it is today very green on top of the Teufelsberg. The complex was sold to an investor who planned a hotel and luxury appartments on the mountain. But after getting many millions of loan for the project from the banks, he was never seen again in the city. Some years ago this area has also been declared as forestrial land making impossible such luxury projects in the future. 

One of the decaying radiation domes, August 2019

Colorful wildness of the ruins, August 2019

The abandoned and still militarywise fenced place attracted of course the urban art and graffiti community. So in the ruins you find today a vast diversity of amazing colorant works of any kind. The domes can no longer be visited due to their bad conditions, but the unique complex is huge and can be visited against payment of an entrance fee. Meanwhile another change, the city awarded this wild site the relevant status of a real protected monument. So history can be just fabulous sometimes!

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Tuesday Photo Challenge – City

 

hallo – галдеж – ahoi – שלום – salve – 你们好 – cześć – hello – こんにちは – salut – ola – ciao – السلام عليكم

WHEN YOU MEET A STRANGER IN POSTMODERN SOLITUDES

RAISING THE RIGHT HAND GENTLY AS A WORDLESS SIGN

YOU WILL SURELY KNOW: MAY PEACE BE HERE WITH US

 

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Dutch goes the Photo / Tuesday Photo Challenge Signs

 

 

 

 

 

ELEMENTAL ABUNDANCE

You are crazy, my child.
You must go to Berlin.

Franz von Suppé, 1800

Especially in spring an irresistible desire for yet another unknown land emerges suddenly at dusk somewhere in the nowhere. Time for a small picture story of Berlin through enigmatic shallows and at multiple urban shores.

Can you hear me?

Word War II and the later division of Berlin have led to a lot of unused infrastructure, railways, empty factories and abandoned places till today. So there are really many possibilities getting lost in the labyrinth of the town.

Looking for enlightenment in a deserted factory at Treptow

Kitsch in an allotment garden at Charlottenburg

The city is changing quickly every day, but the spirit used to be indeed much more rebellious here in former times. Some wild street art reflects these eternal inflammatory ambitions sprouting from undergrounds.

Mural at Kreuzberg near Moritzplatz

Former railway tunnel at natural park Südgelände-Gleisdreieck

Large urban areas are covered with lakes and endless woods on sandy soil left by glaciers of the last ice age. Here the approaching predatory and brutal gentrification of many city districts does not play any role so far.

Krossinsee at Köpenick in early April

The journey is not yet over here – just a short excursion of my homeland today, thanks for reading.

Painting at Bernauer Str. reminding to Berlin’s division (1961-1989)

 

 

EXPLORING THE ISLAND OF USEDOM / BALTIC SEA

In early June 2019 we spent again some days on the varied and ancient island of Usedom in the Baltic Sea which is connected by two shorter bridges with the German mainland being separated from the island only by the river Peene and huge coastal backwaters.

Anklam Gate in the old Hanseatic City of Usedom

Rural countryside near Mellenthin Castle

Usedom lies in Western-Pomerania (Vorpommern) and on the European Route of Brick Gothic architecture. In German there exists an old lullaby featuring Pomerania and sounding in fact more like a nightmare: “Maikäfer flieg, der Vater ist im Krieg, die Mutter ist im Pommernland, Pommernland ist abgebrannt.”  The besetting content most probably goes back to the Seven-Years-War (1756-1763) when the Swedish army devastated great parts of Pomerania. Why this dramatical song is used for making children sleep, likely remains a secret for me.

Abandoned barn near Grüssow

Hiking on the coastal path from Grüssow to Warthe

Today however, the island of Usedom means just a real nice and peaceful place at the wild shores of the Baltic Sea. In hot summers it is usually much cooler than on the mainland. You will find there long white beaches and spas, big forests with inland lakes, dreamy villages, old castles and beautiful natural reserves.

The medieval church of Rankwitz

Wildness at the natural reserve Lieper Winkel

We did some hiking on bikes which allows very well to reach the remote and original sites of this island. Some of these amazing and stunning places are featured here on a few photos which require to return sometime in the very future.

Ancient blue fisher house with a thatched roof at Warthe

Bathing area of Dewichow with view on the backwaters

Tuesday Photo Challenge – Ancient

BRITTLE COASTAL BEAUTY VISTAS

Beautiness means not gazing in a perfect mirror while these instants do often not last much longer than early fragile dewdrops sparkling also in  curious minds.

Cliffs seen from the coastal path near Luz

Eroded rock formation in the turquoise sea near Benagil

A view from a cave at the beach of Olhos de Agua

All photos were made at the Algarve / Portugal in late October 2018.

Tuesday Photo Challenge – Vista

 

ARCHAIC ENCOUNTER AT LAKE CONSTANCE

In Unteruhldingen, Germany, on Lake Constance, wooden posts in the water still serve as reminders of the houses that once stood there.

During the Neolithic Period (4,000 BC), the first farmers settled by the lakes around the Alps. They often built their villages directly in or by the water and protected themselves from the wet grounds and floods by building their homes on wooden stilts. These pile dwellings are an early form of settlement offering the people protection against enemies and predators. And the close proximity to water was also vital for survival by the direct access to the lucrative fishing grounds.

The pictures here were all taken some days ago at the Pile Dwellings Museum of Unteruhldingen, Lake Constance. This site comprises an open-air museum with 23 reconstructed houses from the Stone and Bronze Age (4,000 until 850 BC). After archeological excavations in the lake the first houses were reconstructed in 1922 based on replicas and original findings making a fascinating submerged world visible again.

Towards the end of the Bronze Age (approximately 850 BC), a dramatically worsening climate and rising lake level pushed the settlers back inland into the surrounding hills. Since then, the remains of the sunken villages have been resting well protected at the bottom of Lake Constance. Complex underwater excavations brought numerous finds of building parts which allowed for accurate reconstruction of the houses.

Other diverse finds can be seen in a small museum, and in the houses you get also a deep insight of ancient living conditions being really worth a visit.

 

Tuesday Photo Challenge – Connections