The TV Tower in Berlin (Fernsehturm): History, Visit & Price

The TV Tower in Berlin (Fernsehturm): History, Visit & Price
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Located in the centre of Berlin at Alexanderplatz, the Fernsehturm is 368 metres high and dominates the city skyline. Originally supposed to be reminiscent of the GDR's Soviet omnipotence, the tower evolved after German reunification to become a symbol of the reunified city. With its simple, universal and timeless design, visible from all parts of the city, it is an icon of Berlin.

History of the Berlin TV tower (Fernsehturm)

The TV tower (Fernsehturm in German) originates from the GDR's need to obtain complete and uninterrupted radio coverage of the territory. At the European Broadcasting Conference in Stockholm in 1952, which was held to coordinate broadcasting frequencies in Europe, only two frequencies were granted to the GDR because the GDR was not politically recognised by most states.

The GDR then had only partial coverage, leading to overlapping and interference or even no TV coverage at all in some areas. In response to this problem, the GDR's German post office soon began planning the construction of a television tower in Berlin.

The German architect Hermann Henselmann is credited with the initial project for a tower that slants towards the sky. From this sublime idea came various projects that had to be abandoned for logistical reasons - at one point the tower was to be built 8 km from the airport, but the idea was abandoned as the tower created interference with the airport.

Berlin TV Tower History
Berlin, Alexanderplatz, "Haus des Lehrers", Fernsehturm, 1969 (Wikimedia Commons, Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-H1002-0001-002 / CC-BY-SA 3.0)

It was in the 1960s that the GDR government ordered the Tower to be built on Alexanderplatz with the aim of demonstrating to the world the power and efficiency of the socialist system.

The spherical design of the building itself is reminiscent of Soviet satellites. Although the construction of such a project was a real headache for the engineers (raising the sphere to a height of 200 m.), the tower was inaugurated on October 3, 1969 - shortly before East Germany celebrated its 20th anniversary. For Walter Ulbricht, then East Germany's head of state, the iconic tower, built in just four years, was proof of the superiority of communism. 

In 1979, the Fernsehturm was granted the status of a historical monument - a status that was maintained after the fall of the Wall and the end of the GDR.

The Berlin Television Tower today

East Germany now belongs to the past and although some movements wanted to dismantle it, the Fernsehturm is still rising and still serves as a transmitter for several radio and television stations.

The tower also serves as an event venue and houses an important observation post with its 203-metre-high viewing platform and includes a revolving bar and restaurant. The Panorama Bar and Sphere revolving restaurant are aptly named and are the ideal places to relax with a drink and enjoy the stunning views. We recommend checking the weather forecast before going there. 

6 Fun Facts about the Fernsehturm

  • Germany's tallest building - The total height of the TV Tower is 368 metres (for a total weight of 26,000 tons). It "grew" a little after a new antenna was installed in the 1990s. The observation deck of the sphere is 203 metres above ground level, allowing visitors to observe the Brandenburg landscape from a distance of 42 kilometres on a clear day. The antenna itself is 118 metres high.
  • The tower can oscillate - Despite a well-tried system (mass damper, metal rod weighing 1.5 tons suspended by three cables, four hydraulic telescopic shock absorbers), the tower is subject to almost imperceptible oscillations: at the top of the antenna the movement can be as much as 60 cm, at the sphere about 15 cm. The frequency can be between 7 and 10 seconds.
  • Only 400 people can be in the sphere at the same time - According to safety regulations, only 400 people are allowed to be in the sphere at the same time. This includes 380 visitors and 20 staff members.
  • A restaurant without a kitchen - To avoid emergency situations and limit the risk of fire, the builders built the kitchen on the ground floor. All dishes ordered are then taken up to 200 m. by a separate special lift.
  • Three very fast elevators - There are three elevators in the tower; two of them are for visitors, one for staff. It takes only 40 seconds to reach 203 metres: 6 metres per second.
  • The TV Tower celebrated its 50th anniversary in October 2019 - The construction of the tower began in 1965 and was completed in 1969. The East German government's goal was to complete construction by October 3, 1969. The workers therefore worked in three different shifts to speed up the process.

During a visit to the Fernsehturm, take a walk in the surrounding area, you will quickly find: Alexanderplatz, Rotes Rathaus, Museum Island, Berlin Cathedral (Dom), Unter den Linden, Brandenburg Gate, Hackescher Markt, Hackesche Höfe, Nikolai Quarter. Enough to complete your check-list of good tourists.

Map, Address and how to get to the Berlin TV Tower

Address: Panoramastrasse 1, 10178 Berlin
Metro: U-Bahn - S-bahn Alexanderplatz
Opening hours: March - October: 9 am until midnight; November - February: 10 am until midnight
Price and entrance fee: 17,50 € (panorama)  / 25,50 € (restaurant)

Raphaëlle
Raphaëlle Radermecker

Author

With a curious personality and a passion for well-chosen words, writing and discovery are my two passions. Berlin intrigues and fascinates me, with its cultural and artistic richness, its modernity and its ability to constantly renew itself.

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