When I first moved to Berlin, I used the Fernsehturm as my Northern Star. How easily the city can be navigated when the skyline counts only one building! If it’s to your left, you are standing in the East. If it’s to your right, you are standing in the West.
Aaaaand that’s about all I figured out.
The Fernsehturm: Berlins lighthouse in the dark and stormy sea of the city. Lol leave me alone
The trending Berlin hashtag #thattoweragain plays lovingly into that notion, as everywhere you go, you’re likely to see the the TV Tower peeking out behind buildings and between the clouds.
Marcus and I both have been collecting pictures of Berlins historical cult icon.
Somehow, taking a snapshot never gets old. Many times I caught myself wondering why I’d never seen that perspective before. It really changes your view of the city in total.
A short history of the Fernsehturm
The Fernsehturm was inaugurated in 1969, in the former GDR. It’s 368m tall, which makes it the tallest building in Berlin, the tallest building in Germany, and the 4th tallest building in Europe. It is also the 2nd tallest TV tower in the world.
That’s why the area around it has the highest radio frequency density in Germany.
The massiveness of the Fernsehturm is owed to the competition between the former East Germany and the West. If you remember, the same thing happened with the building of the Hansaviertel vs. the Stalinallee.
The West had its meager Funkturm, which was 220m shorter, and hidden in the outskirts of Charlottenburg. The Fernsehturm, meanwhile, is right in the middle of the city, literally towering over both the East and the West. It was supposed to convey the technological feats of the GDR to the rest of the world.
While Brandenburger Tor is still undoubtedly the official symbol of Berlin, the GDR’s Fernsehturm became an icon of the city after the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Will the Fernsehturm disappear in the future Berlin skyline?
I don’t like change. Nobody likes change. But hey, live goes on, and we can’t stand still – right?
W R O N G! Right.
So Alexanderplatz is going to change within the next few years. That means more 150m tall buildings are going to be erected in close proximity to the Fernsehturm (which will still be taller).
While the “new” Westberlin is being crowned with plenty of high rises, the East stands on lower standards – a fact that many Berliners appreciate. It’s nice to only have one tower in the sky instead of densely packed inner districts.
Alas, the city is being massively populated and the need for new living space is more urgent than the aesthetics of “Old Berlin”. Many architects apparently feel like building vertically is the only way out of our real estate misery.
For now, only two plans for high rises have received the green light from the senate. But the BVG is hindering the construction: they are scared that the massive buildings could damage the underground infrastructure of the U-Bahn. So – it’s very likely that the plans of a new skyscraper landscape in Berlin are just another BER disaster in the making.
The other skylines in Berlin
Potsdamer Platz, Mediaspree, Upper Westside: In the past years, a few designated “skylines” have been forming slowly but steadily in some areas of Berlin. Unlike Frankfurt am Main, London or other metropoles, they are not really worth pointing out though.
In fact, it’s quite disturbing to see how little these buildings actually fit into the general Berlin aesthetic (as ugly as that may be sometimes). I personally think the architecture works much better in favor of the flat buildings (for example the Regierungsviertel). But hey, what do I know.
For now, we can still count on the Fernsehturm to dominate the horizon of Berlin. It’s a comforting thought to me.