Teufelsberg: A Photo Tour Inside Berlin’s Secret Abandoned Spy Station

Berlin is a city that harbors its share of ghosts. As Germany’s premier city marches ever further into the future, shiny new government buildings and designer lofts rising on vacant lots across the capital, vestiges of Berlin’s infamous role in two World Wars and a Cold War can still be found if you know where to look. A prime example of this 20th-century legacy is Teufelsberg, an artificial hill just west of Berlin that harbors an amazing connection to Second World War military history and a now abandoned Cold War-era spy station.

The history of Teufelsberg is a fascinating mix of World War II and Cold War intrigue. During the Third Reich, Teufelsberg was to be the site of a proposed Nazi military technical college that was never completed. After the war, German authorities began hiding the unfinished buildings by burying them under more than 75 Million cubic meters of rubble created by Allied bombing campaigns. As the Cold War kicked into high gear, American military personnel began using the artificial hill’s excellent height to improve their efforts to spy on Soviet and East German communications, eventually building the radar domes and buildings in evidence to this day.

Touring the Teufelsberg site today is possible through an organized tour, though there is a bit of an ongoing debate amongst Berlin locals as to who should be allowed access. Once inside, the sight is a beautifully creepy mixture of colorful graffiti and decaying radar towers. Theme park this is not – broken glass, dark staircases and a lack of railings make the tour rather treacherous – but for a one of a kind chance to step inside Berlin history, it can’t be beat. Check out the photos below from Gadling’s recent visit.

%Gallery-184426%

Book Review: Lonely Planet’s ‘Better Than Fiction’

What is travel writing? Is the genre defined by its commitment to true-to-life recounting of the people, places and cultures we have experienced and lessons to be drawn from them? Or is travel writing something more malleable, simply a style of writing, true or not, that utilizes places and people as vehicles for a good story? The tension between these two competing definitions is at the heart of the new travel-themed anthology, “Better Than Fiction” by Lonely Planet.

“Better Than Fiction” is a collection of short travel-themed works by some of the world’s top literary fiction writers, including Joyce Carol Oates, Isabel Allende and Alexander McCall Smith. Edited by Gadling’s own Features Editor, Don George, each of the 32 included short stories plays with this notion of “truth in travel writing,” bringing to bear the storytelling skills of veteran fiction writers to the world of non-fiction travel writing. Each of the varied works relates a true-to-life story from the author’s personal wanderings around the globe, all told with the writers’ rich storytelling skills intact.

For anyone who considers themselves a voracious consumer of travel writing, “Better Than Fiction” will make for a refreshing and illuminating read. In each of the short stories there’s a richness of character and crispness to the dialogue that makes them feel like excerpted chapters from a novel. Considering the growing glut of “Top 10″ and “destination tip” travel journalism that exists online, it’s easy to forget the best travel writing works because it’s good storytelling, not merely a laundry list of destination facts and to-do’s. Great travel storytelling, like the work showcased in “Better Than Fiction,” reminds us that ultimately discovering the truth about the places we visit involves more than just restating the facts.

Photo Of The Day: Indian Pilgrim

Today’s excellent and colorful portrait shot comes to us courtesy of Flickr user SoumishD. Soumish was in the Indian city of Haridwar, an important Hindu pilgrimage site along the holy waters of the Ganges River, when he captured this mysterious woman, cloaked in a translucent pink veil. The depth of field focus on her face, the vibrant hue of the pink fabric and the look of concentration all contribute to a sense of intensity and intrigue to the image.

Taken any great portraits during your own travels? Why not add them to our Gadling group on Flickr? We might just pick one of yours as our Photo of the Day.

[Photo credit: Flickr user SoumishD]

Photo Of The Day: New York Pizza

There’s lots of good food to be had in New York City So much good food, in fact, that visitors must not forget to try one of NYC’s cheapest (and tastiest) culinary offerings: the pizza slice. Today’s photo, taken by Flickr user Mike GL, gives us a “behind the counter” look at your typical New York pizza joint. I liked the angle of the shot behind the glass, lending the shot a “slice of life” perspective. Wondering where to get some great pizza in New York? Check out this list of some of our favorites.

Taken any great travel photos lately? Why not add them to our Gadling group on Flickr? We might just pick one of yours as our Photo of the Day.

[Photo credit: Flickr user Mike GL]

Photo Of The Day: Sailing Ship Rigging

Today’s photo comes to us from Flickr user Angie622, who captured this eye-catching image of the rigging of a traditional sailing ship shrouded in silhouette. The Instagram-like colors and dark shadows transform the ship’s vast web of ropes and timber into an intriguing abstract pattern in the shadows of the sun.

Taken any great shots of your own during your travels? Why not add them to our Gadling group on Flickr? We might just pick one of yours as our Photo of the Day.

[Photo credit: Flicker user Angie622]