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Going up in the World.
Fernsehturm (Berlin, Germany)
Member Name: grahamt
Fernsehturm (Berlin, Germany)
Date: 08/06/12, updated on 08/06/12 (969 review reads)
Advantages: Unrivalled views over Berlin ; not overly expensive
Disadvantages: Mispositioned descriptive panels ; possible long queues
When visiting Berlin, there are many famous locations to visit but not all of them are free. The Brandenburg Gate is one that is and is a "Must See". The Fernsehturm, the TV Broadcasting Tower on Alexanderplatz is also a "Must See" but isn't free. We visited both whilst in Berlin for three days and of the two, Fernsehturm was definitely the most spectacular.
The tower was built in the 60s by the Russian-controlled East German authorities and is, as you would expect, located in what was then East Berlin. It is at the opposite end of Unter den Linden from the Brandenburg Gate. It will come as no surprise that it was constructed as a symbol of "Communist Might", to be visible throughout West Berlin. Unlike the utilitarian architecture inflicted on East Berlin as a part of the rebuilding of the largely destroyed city, the Fernsehturm is actually a very elegant and surprisingly modern structure.
The entrance is not into the tower itself but to a circular two-storey hall to one side, linked to the tower by a walkway. On the Ground Floor below the staircase there is a central ticket desk for which you can queue to buy tickets. There are also self-serve ticket machines. On the day (a Monday) when we visited there was just a short queue and so we waited no more than five minutes to get our tickets. The standard adult ticket costs Euro12 but as we had the Berlin Visitor Ticket for all of our travel around the city, we got discounted tickets at Euro9.
The tickets are numbered and screens around the hall tell you how long you will have to wait for your turn to ride in the lift the just over 200 metres up to the viewing platform. We had to wait around 45 minutes. Whilst waiting you can climb up the stairs to the gallery overlooking the ground floor. Here there is a cafe where you can enjoy a snack and drinks whilst you wait.
When your time arrives you walk through the passageway to the tower, undergoing a security search on the way. Your ticket is presented to a turnstile (you will do the same on the way out, their way of ensuring no one gets left behind) and then it's onwards to the lifts. There are two and each has an indicator to show its current position within the tower.
Each lift takes around a dozen passengers, plus the lift operator. The acceleration is so smooth that you hardly realise you have started moving; it takes just around 30 seconds or so to climb to the viewing platform.
The platform is actually on two levels, the upper level, accessed by a stairway, is reserved for special parties and those who have paid extra to be treated as a VIP! The lower level is for us mere mortals. The whole of the circumference is surrounded by protective railings, beyond which are large, continuous windows angled outwards from the floor, through which you get an unrivalled panorama over Berlin.
Below each window is a panel describing what can be seen, or that's what is intended. Bizarrely, each panel is offset to the left from the window whose view it describes! I suppose you are supposed to move clockwise around the windows, first reading the description and then moving on, trying your best to remember what you read, to see the view itself. I found myself continually going back to reference the panel before, which does make the whole experience less satisfactory.
Obviously the view you get depends on the weather; we were lucky in having a relatively clear day on which we could see all of the famous locations such as the Tiergarten public park, the Reichstag, the Brandenburg Gate and even out to Templehof aerodrome, used during the year-long Berlin Airlift, when the Russians tried to starve West Berlin into submission to being incorporated into East Germany.
The Fernsehturm is definitely worth a visit when you are in Berlin. The cost of entry is not exorbitant and it does provide a half hour or so of entertainment. You obviously have to pick your day as the weather is going to play a big part in your enjoyment of the experience. After the visit, there are a large number of decent restaurants and cafes nearby, in which to relax before continuing your exploration of this great city.
Summary: A tourist attraction worthwhile visiting when in Berlin for great views of the city
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