No muggles here - the Müggelberge

Out in the furthest reaches of Treptow-Köpenick, hiding behind a high barbed wire-topped fence, is another strange radome-topped tower on a hill. If you're thinking it looks like another cold war listening station, you'd actually be completely right, but it's one with a rather interesting background.

The signal tower on the Müggelberge, guarded by barbed wire

Back in 1954, with plans well underway to establish a brave new world of communism in East Germany, work began here on building a tower for the transmission of television signals. The plan was for a 130m tall television tower, with a viewing platform at 70m, to provide both clear transmissions of East German stations for Berlin and impressive views across the surrounding landscape.

There was just one problem: with Schönefeld airport nearby, it was realised that a 130m tower could present a serious threat to low flying aircraft. Building stopped in 1955, then work began in 1956 to make the building suitable for other uses, first by the Akademie der Wissenschaften (academy of sciences), who used it as an observatory, then by the Stasi, who used the 31m high stump as a listening post.

The plans for a television tower in Berlin continued, with it eventually being decided that siting it in central Berlin would both keep it out of the Schönefeld flight paths, satisfy all technical considerations and provide a suitably impressive centrepiece for the new socialist Berlin. The rest, as they say, is history.

The signal tower on the Müggelberge

The tower is now used by Deutsche Telekom as a relay station, which is why it remains fenced off. Fans of climbable towers need not be disappointed, though - I have just the thing for you...

The Müggelturm

I'll admit that this, the Müggelturm, doesn't look terribly inviting. It's been passed between owners since 1991, without very much being done with it. The tower itself was refurbished in 1996, with the help of money from the EU, but the buildings at its base - which used to be a restaurant - have just been slowly falling apart.

The tower is just under 30 metres high, but the height of the hill it stands on (the Müggelberge are the highest natural hills in Berlin) puts the observation deck at around 120m above sea level. You can still go up it to enjoy the view, by paying the 1 Euro entrance fee to the man in the little kiosk opposite.

The tower was opened in 1961, replacing an earlier wooden structure which had burned down. There's a great view from the top, so it's worth climbing the 126 steps to get there.

The view from the Müggelturm

The view of Berlin from the Müggelturm

There are currently workmen doing something to the restaurant buildings. Hopefully it'll be something to give the Müggelturm a new lease of life, but you can never be too sure what's going to happen...

Köpenick (S3) then take the X69 bus from the stop on Mahlsforfer Straße, just outside Köpenick station, to Rübezahl
The Müggelturm
Straße zum Müggelturm
12559 Berlin
The half-built Fernsehturm 12559 Berlin

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