Being one of the capital’s most famous landmarks it is the most prominent sight in Berlin’s skyline: the TV Tower. But are you familiar with the unique history of the concrete giant? We have all the hard facts and information for your visit:
The Berlin TV Tower, 1207 ft in height, is not only Germany’s tallest building – even in all of Europe it is still top5. Thanks to its enormous size and the central location at Alexanderplatz in Berlin Mitte, the tower is visible from almost everywhere in Berlin. In many parts of East Berlin the TV tower supplies the impressive background to long urban canyons. After years of planning and constructing it went into operation on October 3, 1969, and immediately was seen as the architectural symbol of strength and superiority of the socialist world over the class enemy.
This symbolic effect was intended, right from the first plannings in the 1950s. Earlier plans for a smaller tower at a less central spot were soon overruled and the monumental mammoth project at a top-quality location was born. One of the greatest supporters of the project: Walter Ulbricht, first man in the state. The original plan of architect Hermann Henselmann were reviewed and modified numerous times, especially the eye-catching sphere was a point of contention: some wanted it painted in soviet red, others even fancied it golden like the sun. Despite the huge technical and static challenges, and even though the project was on the rocks a couple of times due to exploding construction costs, the tower of Berlin was erect within only four and a half years. Both on the outside and on the inside the global enthusiasm for technological progress of the 1960s is visible up to this day – it is no coincidence that the tower resembles a soviet space ship.
The TV Tower might be famous for its architecture and symbolic meaning; still, it has a very pragmatic purpose: The red and white fasciated antenna, 118m tall, on the very top of the tower broadcasts roughly 60 TV and radio stations and in 1969 even marked the beginning of color TV in the GDR. And although the tower bore the impress of the workers’ and peasants’ state alone, it has become a symbol of reunited Berlin since the fall of the wall in 1989 – just like Brandenburg Gate.
Today the TV tower is a tourist magnet, thanks to the panoramic visitor plattform on 666 ft above ground. Since Berlin is a city of low-rise buildings, the view is simply breathtaking, reaching over the entire city and well beyond. But you can climb even higher when visiting Sphere, the tower’s revolving restaurant. Here you don’t even have to move: you are the center and the city revolves around you. By the way – The clearest view is often given during the cold season, so it’s high time you finally climb that thing!
From Industriepalast Hostel it is not even a ten minute ride on the S-Train to Alexanderplatz. The TV-Tower is open from 10 am through midnight (during summer: 9 am – 12 am). A ticket will cost you 13 € (reduced fare: 8,50€), but keep in mind that you might have to wait in line for up to 2 hours on a sunny day. You can avoid this by purchasing your ticket for a set date and time online, which is more expensive though (19 € / 12 €). Special hint: You want to go up there first thing in the morning? Or bath in the ocean of lights over nightly Berlin? The Early Bird and Late Night Ticket give you access without tiresome waiting times for the regular price of 13 € (8,50 €) online.
Please note that due to fire safety regulations the TV tower can unfortunately not be visited by wheelchair users at the moment.
Did you know that…
- …Berlin TV Tower has more than 1 million visitors every year and is therefore one of the ten most popular sights in Germany?
- …Berlin TV Tower is the highest building open to public in all of Europe?
- …the elevator only takes 40 seconds for the 200m up to the visitor plattform?
- …the TV Tower has a smaller, much older “Brother” further west, named the Berlin Radio Tower?
- …even during strong winds, the tower hardly sways at all? Thanks to a very complex pendulum construction on the inside, the visitor platform sways at a maximum amplitude of 15 cm. So even during a storm there is no need to be afraid.
- …on bright days, the reflection of the sun forms a giant cross on the tower’s sphere? This phenomenon was obviously not intended by the anti-religious GDR government and is often referred to as the “Pope’s Revenge”.
is Berliner by choice and a passionate backpacker himself. As a receptionist he knows the real hostel life; as a blogger he's been writing for Industriepalast Hostel's Berlin blog since 2014.