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Berlin TV Tower's history & strategic importance | An icon of reunification in post-Cold War Berlin

Berlin TV Tower | Tallest building in Germany 

The Berlin TV Tower, locally referred to as Fernsehturm, is the tallest building in all of Germany, standing at 1207 feet. Completed in 1969, this structure offers breathtaking views of the cityscape. The observation deck also offers virtual interactive exhibits, where you can learn more about the tower’s construction process. You can also enjoy 360-degree views of the city while enjoying the delectable cuisine at the Sphere Restaurant. Read on to know about the history of the Towe, how it was built, and other details for a memorable experience.

Berlin TV Tower timeline

1965: Construction of the TV Tower begins 

1969: Inauguration of the Berlin TV Tower 

1970: Broadcasting from the Tower begins 

1972: Opening of the famous sky-high dining experience to the public 

2011: The Tower is officially visited by 50 million visitors from all over the world 

Berlin TV Tower history explained

Construction begins at the Berlin TV Tower

Construction begins

1965
After the initial planning was finalized, the Tower’s construction began at the approach path of the planned Schonefeld airport. The original design came from the renowned GDR architect, Hermann Henselmann. They followed a climbing construction method, where segments were hoisted up using cranes. Around a total of 8,000 cubic meters of concrete was used to build the shaft. The total construction of the Tower amounted to over 132 million euros.

Inauguration of the Berlin TV Tower

Inauguration of the Tower

1969
The Berlin TV Tower was officially inaugurated on 3rd October 1969, marking the 20th anniversary of the German Democratic Republic (East Germany). It was a celebrated affair, with the politician Walter Ulbricht, his wife Lotte, and a delegation of high-ranking companions in attendance. The guests of honor gave the starting signal for Germany’s second state channel, DFF 2,  paving the way for an era of color television in the country.

Broadcasting from the Berlin TV Tower begins

Broadcasting from the TV Tower begins

1970
The Berlin TV Tower has played a significant role in broadcasting since its inception on 16th February 1970. The Tower’s observation deck accommodates its antenna and transmitters. In 1970, 5 FM programs were broadcast from the Tower. From April 1970 onward, the first television program followed. At the beginning of 1972, 2 planned pavilions, the Berlin Information Centre and a cinema were inaugurated at the Tower, making it a huge public draw. 

Opening of sky-high dining to the public at the Berlin TV Tower

Opening of sky-high dining to the public

1972 
The Sphere, a restaurant and bar run by Magnicity with seating of over 1000 people was inaugurated in 1972 at the Berlin TV Tower. The restaurant offers splendid panoramic views of the city and makes for a unique revolving experience. When you dine at the Sphere, you get a different view every minute. This restaurant is open from breakfast to dinner, ensuring visitors can enjoy the views at any hour of the day.

Berlin TV Tower visited by over 50 million visitors

Tower visited by over 50 million visitors

2011 
The Berlin TV Tower aside from simply being a broadcasting platform, has emerged as a landmark, tourist attraction, and now a distinctive sight on Berlin’s skyline. During the first 3 years after the Tower's inauguration, as many as 4 million people visited the structure. On 14th June 2011, after more than 40 years of construction, the Tower hit a landmark of 50 million visitors. 

Construction of the Berlin TV Tower

With the foundation laid in August 1965, work on the foot of the Tower and the shaft began at a rapid pace. By 1967, the shaft was erected and work began on the Tower ball. Many construction components were imported from West Germany, increasing construction costs way over the budget. Another challenge faced in 1969 was the water that had trickled into the Tower interiors, requiring it to be re-sealed and reworked. After 1969, work continued on the interiors of the Tower and the entrance pavilion, and it was ready to be inaugurated toward the end of 1969.

Berlin TV Tower today

Berlin TV Tower today

Being the tallest building in the country, the Berlin TV Tower attracts hundreds of visitors to its observation deck, which stands at 668.6 ft tall. The building has 2 elevators to take visitors up to the observation deck. It is also accessible to differently-abled visitors. The tallest restaurant and bar in the city, Sphere, is located at the top of the Tower, offering sprawling views of the skyline in an ambient setting. The Tower also offers visitors a chance to enjoy Berlin’s Odyssey, a 15-minute VR experience that will take you through the history of the Tower and into the inaccessible parts of the Tower. 




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Frequently asked questions about the Berlin TV Tower's history

What is the historical significance of the Berlin TV Tower?

The Berlin TV Tower was constructed by East Germany during the height of the Cold War and was intended to showcase the strength and technological advancement of the socialist East German state.

How old is the Berlin TV Tower?

The Berlin TV Tower was inaugurated in 1969. It has since emerged as a significant landmark in the Berlin cityscape, attracting hundreds of visitors every year.

How many years did it take to build the Berlin TV Tower?

The Berlin TV tower’s construction lasted about 4 years, starting in 1965 and concluding in 1969.

What is the historical context in which the Berlin TV Tower was built?

The Tower stood as a symbol of the division between East and West Berlin, emphasizing the power and achievements of the communist regime. Following the reunification of Germany in 1990, the TV Tower took on new significance as a symbol of unity.

Who built the Berlin TV Tower?

The Berlin TV Tower, also known as the Fernsehturm was constructed by a team of architects and engineers led by Hermann Henselmann, Jorg Streitparth, and Fritz Dieter.

What is the architectural style of the Berlin TV Tower?

The architecture of the Berlin TV Tower is often classified as a combination of modernist and futuristic design, featuring the prominent sphere at the top, observation decks, and the revolving restaurant.

How has the Berlin TV Tower contributed to the city’s cultural heritage?

The Berlin TV Tower is an enduring symbol of the superiority of East Germany during the Cold War era and an icon of reunification after the water. It represents the complex history of the city. Over the years, the Berlin TV Tower has been featured in various forms of art, films, and literature, becoming ingrained in the cultural identity of Berlin. 

What are some lesser-known facts and anecdotes about the Berlin TV Tower?

Initially, the Tower's planned height was intended to surpass the Eiffel Tower in Paris. However, the final height of the Berlin TV Tower was adjusted to precisely one meter shorter than the Eiffel Tower (at 324 meters without antennas).