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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Linked to:

Tuesday Photo Challenge – City

 

ALPINE FLORA AND FAUNA IN MONTAFON VALLEY, AUSTRIA, BY BEATRICE

Now this will be the last feature regarding our Summer holidays in Austria, and after Ulli (who operates this blog) already has shown for instance some tracks left by Ernest Hemingway here in Montafon as well, it is now really time for some flowers and animals to be found in the beautiful Austrian Alps, colourful impressions picked up by me.

Old world swallowtail (Papilio machaon)

 

Amazing temporary geometry

Ferns in a forest

Bleached sculpture on the trail to Falla

Swiss horses on vacation at Gargellenalpe

Explosion of colours in TschaggunsHill moor with cotton grass (Eriophorum angustifolium)

Fragrant orchid (Gymnadenia conopsea)

High plateau and trail leading from Wiegensee to Verbellaalpe

Fading floral aesthetics

Moss covering a tree and gravestones

Mountain meadow

Alpine rose (Rhododendron ferrugineum)

Turk’s cap lily (Lilium martagon)

Alpine gentian (Gentiana alpina)

A layer of old snow near Kreuzjoch

Thanks for joining this small excursion through mountains and flora!

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linked to:

Jo’s Monday walk : Vila Franca do Campo

FOTD – August 22, 2019 – Photographer and Dahlias

ON THE TRACKS OF HEMINGWAY IN WEST-AUSTRIA, 1925-1926

“The world is so full of many things that I am sure we shall be all happy as kings. How happy are kings?” (1)

Mountain path to Kreuzjoch (2,450 m) near Schruns

This summer we have visited again the Montafon Valley for nice and real summerfreshness, this place to be found in the utmost Western part of Austria right to the border of Switzerland. In 1925 and 1926 the still unknown author Ernest Hemingway spent also quite some time here and in fact left lasting personal impressions with the local people.

Hotel Taube at Schruns around 1920 (2)

The budding writer had come to Montafon Valley with his wife and son from Paris, because he had little money and good friends had told him that in Schruns there would be the nice Hotel Taube, that the Montafon was cheap and the mountains just ravishing. Hemingway liked it so much that he spent two winters here in 1924/25 and 1925/26, six months amidst the dazzling white snow world and surrounded by the tranquility he needed to rewrite his first novel “The Sun also rises”. The local people called him the “black Kirsch drinking Christ”, because he liked to stay in the diverse taverns of the valley. 

Ernest Hemingway, John Dos Passos, Gerald Murphy at Silvretta, 1925 (3)

The young author with his wife Hudley and son at Schruns, 1926 (3)

Wiesbadener Hütte at Silvretta in the 1920s, here Hemingway stayed for ski tours (3)

Hemingway, then in his mid-20s, was very fine, on wooden skis and sealskins he climbed up into the Ochsental, climbed the glaciers on the Piz Buin at Silvretta, he loved the mountains, and in Schruns he sipped the homemade schnapps of the peasants, plus lots of Fohrenburger beer, and he beat them all down in the bar of Hotel Taube: the host, his ski instructor Walter Lent, even the local gendarmerie captain participated in the evening poker rounds. Quite how influential those visits to Montafon were for Hemingway gets clear in his last book “A Moveable Feast” because therein he left a memorial to Montafon. So the very last chapter of this book is devoted to this Austrian region, his private paradise, he describes the valley enthusiastically as a real romance.

Löwen Tavern founded 1500 at Tschagguns where Hemingway often accompanied hunters and woodcutters

Portrait of Hemingway to be found at Kreuzkeller-Bar in Schruns
And Ernest Hemingway was here in fact a welcomed guest, the people of Montafon really liked him. On the wall of the dining room at Hotel Taube hang today some small black and white photos, Hemingway with beard, Hemingway on skis. John, the writer’s first son, sent it to the hotel himself after visiting the place in his father’s footsteps. Otherwise Hotel Taube makes no fuss over the legendary Nobel laureate, who once resided in this house. A small brass board next to the entrance, which tourism wanted so, and a casual note in the hotel brochure. Not more. No logos, no fussed bar, no Hemingway fuss as to be found elsewhere.
Above the clouds at Innerberg
But Hemingway has become a real myth here, and now his name hangs over the region like the wet-gray clouds moving over the valleys. Even today, the Hotel Taube stands at the church square in Schruns, tidy and neatly the little streets of the small city, and in the background you can still admire today the stunning peaks of seemingly eternal Rätikon waiting for our final discovery.
Wiegensee in the mountains of Partenen
Old smuggler trail near the Swiss border
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  1. Ernest Hemingway in a letter to his colleague F. Scott Fitzgerald, September 1926
  2. photo from an old marketing flyer of ‘Hotel Taube’
  3. photos from the archive of ‘Montafon Tourismus’

 

HOLIDAY SEASON

I am happy to return quite soon again to the much cooler mountains and fresh heights of the Alps because this year was simply tropical hot and too dry till now. And summerfreshness in this regard means also a nice passion and annual recurring ritual while passing by old stony paths, gorges, meadows or mudslides and focussing the mountain’s top. When getting up late or in case it is simply really just too hot at all, a nearby chilly lake or coffee-shop may also be very stimulating targets.  So in the time being this blog will  relax a little bit in creative tranquility until beginning of September. Cheerio.

 

 

 

SUMMERFRESHNESS IN AUSTRIA BY BEATRICE

“Getting to the top is optional.
Getting down is mandatory.” (Ed Viesturs)


How good to have been in the mountains of the Austrian Alps again for enjoying the fresh air, a tremendous nature and much cooler temperatures in the amazing and varied heights of Eastern-Tyrole. So here you will find some photographic impressions as a result of our excursions in order to escape the very pressing  summer’s heat of 2013.

linked to:   Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge – Time to relax

 

THE SKY IS THE LIMIT

Being in nature is sometimes a trip back to history, while in 1998 I used to climb on Mangart mountain in the Julian Alps of Slovenia together with my girl-friend. The trail at some parts is leading directly on the border between Italy and Slovenia (on the photo the white stone with numbers indicates the actual frontier).

TheSkyIsTheLimit_MangartMountain_Slovenia_1998      Trail to Mt. Mangart (2,677 m) / Border between Italy and Slovenia

Today this means a place of peace and challenge for those climbing on the mountains, but only 100 years ago this was a location of battles and war because this area used to be the Isonzo frontline in World War I, and here the armies of Italy and the Austrian Empire were executing fierce, endless fighting in the mountains up to altitudes of more than 2,000 m.

Relicts of this war without real winner (old military paths, ruins, tunnels) can still be found at diverse scattered locations in both countries. Today only the sky is the limit here fortunately.

 

linked to     The Daily Post  Weekly Photo Challenge “Ascend”