I waited months to visit Berlin’s TV Tower because it sounded like a tourist trap. Finally decided it was worth a visit for the view alone. Indeed it is a tourist trap, but glad I experienced the bird’s-eye perspective of Berlin from the top! The view is amazing even on a cloudy day with snow flurries. Wish I’d done it earlier in sunny weather – a great way to get a fix on the lay of the land.
The TV Tower (Fernsehturm in German) is Berlin’s most recognizable landmark. It’s in Alexanderplatz, a public square in Mitte District, and visible from almost any angle in the city. After four years of construction, the Tower opened in 1969. It celebrates a 50th anniversary next year!
When the sun shines on the TV Tower’s round dome, a cross shape reflects on it. West Berliners call this the “Pope’s revenge”.
TV Tower History and Significance
East Germany’s socialist leader – Walter Ulbricht – hired architects from a state-owned engineering company “to create a Sputnik satellite-like building showing off the technological advancement and power of East Berliners”. Hermann Henselmann and fellow German Democratic Republic (GDR) architects Fritz Dieter, Günter Franke, and Werner Neumann designed the tower.
The Berlin TV Tower is a member of the World Federation of Great Towers. Other members include Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, Sydney Tower, Collserola in Barcelona, and the Eiffel Tower. In 1997, the addition of an extra antenna made the TV Tower the highest building in Germany. The tower has rotating Sphere Restaurant and Panorama Bar. In 30 minutes it rotates 360 degrees!
“After reunification, the TV Tower had new significance. No longer a symbol of East Germany, it was an integral element of Berlin’s new cityscape symbolizing the city – both nationally and internationally.”
Owned by Deutsche Telekom the Berlin TV Tower antenna broadcasts over 60 TV and radio programs. The 986 step staircase to the tower isn’t used. A high-speed elevator transports visitors to the observation deck in an unbelievable 38 seconds.