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June 16, 2014 in Urban Exploration

Teufelsberg: Derelict NSA Spy Base

I have visited dozens of places in the pursuit of Urban Exploration, but the spectacular sunrise seen here means it is a site that will forever remain in my memory.

This abandoned NSA field station sits atop an artificial hill in the Grunewald forest on the west edge of Berlin. Rising 260ft over the surrounding lanscape, the mount was originally built amid chaotic reconstrution work following World War II. Later, allied forces discovered the hill, seeing it as the ideal location from which to monitor the air corridors to West Germany, as well as the radio and telephone networks in East Germany. A part of Teufelsberg was a closed military zone. Behind fences, gates and security systems, various secluded buildings were constructed, as well as five powerful antenna domes. More than 1,000 people are said to have worked here around the clock, every day of the year. They were part of the global ECHELON surveillance network.

These days, despite being derelict, it is not such an easy place to access (currently being patrolled by a disreputable biker gang who have claimed the area for themselves). However the views that it affords, and a fascinating wealth of history, means that the effort is a worthwhile endeavour for people brave or foolhardy enough to infiltrate its borders.

My fellow urban explorers approached the barbed-wire perimiter fence with bleary eyes - buoyed on caffeine and adrenaline - in complete darkness at 4.30am with only the moon to light our way. Successfully avoiding the motorcycle patrols and gaining access shortly afterwards, we quickly made our way to the main tower.

Shortly after we arrived at the peak, perspiring following the ascent of countless flights of concrete steps, we were rewarded with the breathtaking vista of a European daybreak. Having arrived in Berlin on the previous night, this was our first experience of the city in daylight - and it was a warm welcome.

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