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The Fernsehturm seen from southwest
|Type||Television tower, Restaurant, Observation tower|
|Completed||3 October 1969|
|Height||368.03 m (1,207.45 ft)|
|Design and construction|
|Main contractor||GDR government|
Situated in Marien quarter (Marienviertel), close to Alexanderplatz in the locality and district of Mitte, the tower was constructed between 1965 and 1969 by the government of the German Democratic Republic (East Germany). It was intended to be both a symbol of Communist power and of the city. It remains a landmark today, visible throughout the central and some suburban districts of Berlin. With its height of 368 metres (including antenna) it is the tallest structure in Germany, and the third-tallest structure in the European Union. Of the four tallest structures in Europe, it is 2 m shorter than the Torreta de Guardamar, 0.5 m shorter than the Riga Radio and TV Tower, and 8 m taller than the Trbovlje Power Station in 2017. The structure is also more than 220 metres higher than the old Berlin Radio Tower in the western part of the city, which was built in the 1920s.
In addition to its main function as the location of several radio and television broadcasting stations, the building – internally known as "Fernmeldeturm 32" – serves as a viewing tower with observation deck including a bar at a height of 203 metres, as well as a rotating restaurant. Also, the Berlin TV Tower can be booked as a venue for events. The distinctive city landmark has undergone a radical, symbolic transformation: After German reunification, it changed from a politically charged, national symbol of the GDR into a citywide symbol of a reunited Berlin. Due to its universal and timeless design, it has increasingly been used as a trademark and is identified worldwide with Berlin and Germany. In 1979, the Berlin TV Tower received monument status by the GDR, a status which was perpetuated after the German reunification.
The tower has become one of the most prominent symbols of the country and is often in the establishing shot of films set in Berlin, alongside monuments such as the Brandenburg Gate, the Berlin Victory Column and the Reichstag building. It is also one of the ten most popular attractions in Germany with more than 1,000,000 visitors every year. Despite its location near Alexanderplatz, it is not normally called Alex Tower.
The original total height of the tower was 365 metres (1,198 ft), but it rose to 368 metres (1,207 ft) after the installation of a new antenna in 1997. The Fernsehturm is the fourth tallest freestanding structure in Europe, after Moscow's Ostankino Tower, the Kiev TV Tower and the Riga Radio and TV Tower. The sphere is a visitor platform and a revolving restaurant in the middle of the sphere. The visitor platform, also called panoramic floor, is at a height of about 203 metres (666 ft) above the ground and visibility can reach 42 kilometres (26 mi) on a clear day. The restaurant "Telecafé", which rotates once every 30 minutes, is a few metres above the visitors platform at 207 metres (679 ft). When first constructed, it turned once per hour; the speed was later doubled following the tower's 1997 renovation.
To mark the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany, for which the final match was played in the Berlin Olympic Stadium, the sphere was decorated as a football with magenta-coloured pentagons, reflecting the corporate colour of World Cup sponsor and owner of the Fernsehturm, Deutsche Telekom.
Location and surroundings
The Berlin TV Tower is located southwest of the Alexanderplatz station and northeast of the Marx-Engels Forum. The structure is often erroneously described as being part of the Alexanderplatz that lies to the northeast.
In addition to the Berlin U-Bahn and S-Bahn lines, several tram and bus lines stop at Alexanderplatz station, from which the middle exit leads to the entrance building of the TV Tower.
The Interhotel Stadt Berlin on Alexanderplatz, planned at the same time as the TV Tower and completed in 1970, is 125 metres high and is now operated as a Park Inn by Radisson Berlin Alexanderplatz. Between 1967 and 1972, the Rathauspassagen shopping arcade was built next to the Red Town Hall, directly south of the TV Tower.
At the European Broadcasting Conference in Stockholm in 1952, which was responsible for the coordination of frequency waves in Europe, the GDR – not recognised politically by most countries at the time – was allocated only two frequency channels. Under these circumstances, it was impossible to cover Berlin's urban area by multiple small broadcasting stations without interference and thus disturbances or gaps in the broadcasting signals. For comprehensive and continuous coverage, a powerful large broadcasting facility at the highest possible location was required. In the 1950s, this task was fulfilled in Berlin by the very weak makeshift stations of Deutscher Fernsehfunk (East German broadcasting organisation).
As early as 1952, GDR's Deutsche Post began planning a TV tower for Berlin. The plans initially involved a location in the southeast of Berlin. However, the project was interrupted after construction had started, when it transpired that the site was only eight kilometres away from the Berlin Schönefeld Airport and the tower threatened to jeopardise flight operations due to its height and location at the edge of an airport corridor. After various compromise solutions failed, the construction project was discontinued in 1956. In the following years, alternatives were sought and several sites were discussed, including in Berlin Friedrichshain, but these plans also fell victim to austerity measures triggered by the high costs of building the Berlin Wall.
In the next few years, the search for a new location was continued. Alongside its actual purpose of providing the best possible broadcasting services, the role of the tower as a new landmark of Berlin was increasingly gaining significance. For this reason, in 1964 the government demanded that the tower be built at a central location, an appeal that was supported by the SED leadership. Ultimately, the choice of location was a political decision. Walter Ulbricht, leader of the Socialist Unity Party which governed East Germany, decided to allow the construction of a television tower modelled on the Fernsehturm Stuttgart and the first artificial Earth satellite, Sputnik.
Various architects were involved in the planning and implementation of the tower between 1965–69, including Hermann Henselmann and Jörg Streitparth, Fritz Dieter, Günter Franke and Werner Ahrendt, as well as Walter Herzog, Gerhard Kosel and Herbert Aust. The construction of the Tower and the surrounding Pavilion building at its base resulted in the razing and clearing of a huge section of the historic centre of the capital of Germany. A medieval church stands next to the tower as a testament to the destruction of the old city.
Construction of the Tower
Work on the foundation began on 4 August 1965 and was finished by the end of 1965. The concreting of the tower foot began on 15 March 1966. The concreting progressed rapidly, so that the 100 metre mark was exceeded on 4 October 1966. The shaft reached its final height on June 16, 1967. A total of 8,000 cubic metres of concrete was used to build the shaft, which was 248.78 metres high and weighed 26,000 tons.
While the shaft was being erected, the preliminary work for the tower ball progressed. The working group VEB Ipro had worked out the procedure for assembling the ball on the reinforced concrete shaft, according to which the ball could be pieced together from 120 separate segments on the ground. In April 1967 a 35-metre-high replica of the shaft was erected on the construction site between Marienkirche and the Red Town Hall on which the ball segments were pre-assembled. This work lasted until November 1967. The construction costs had meanwhile skyrocketed from an estimated 33 million to 95 million marks, caused mainly by components and materials that had to be paid in foreign currencies, some of which were imported from West Germany. In February 1968, the assembly of the ball on the shaft was started. The last segment of the ball was finally installed on October 7. A spike was mounted on the tower structure and the antenna structure above the ball, so that work on the interior could be started the following year.
At the beginning of 1969, water trickled into the interior of the tower, causing considerable damage; the ball had to be sealed again. Until 3 October 1969, the interior was expanded, and the entrance pavilion was completed. After 53 months of actual construction work, the tower was completed in "record-breaking" time in spite of all the adversities. The costs amounted to over 132 million marks.
The building, officially called the Fernseh- und UKW-Turm Berlin (Television and VHF Tower Berlin), was the world's second highest television tower in October 1969. The only TV tower that was taller was the Ostankino in Moscow. It was also the third-highest freestanding building of its time, after the tower in Moscow and the Empire State Building in New York.
Since the inauguration
On October 3, 1969, Walter Ulbricht, together with his wife Lotte and a delegation of high-ranking companions, including Günter Mittag, Herbert Warnke, Paul Verner, Rudolph Schulze, Erich Honecker, Werner Lamberz and Erich Mielke, inaugurated the television tower and gave the starting signal for GDR's second state channel, DFF 2, thus launching colour TV on two channels in the GDR. The tower has been accessible to the public since October 7, 1969, Republic Day.
From 16 February 1970, five FM programmes were broadcast from the tower; a first television programme followed on 4 April 1970. At the beginning of 1972, the two planned pavilions for exhibitions, the Berlin Information Centre, a cinema and gastronomic facilities were completed. Overall, the restaurants offered space for around 1000 guests. After the establishment of a legal basis for the preservation of monuments in 1975, the Berlin TV Tower was awarded this status in 1979. After the fall of the GDR, the Federal Republic of Germany enshrined the building's monument status.
After German reunification in 1990, voices were raised in favour of the demolition of the tower. The Federal Republic of Germany decided to keep the building. As the new operator, Deutsche Telekom finally invested more than 50 million marks to overhaul the broadcasting facilities, and a number of renovations were also undertaken on the building. Among other things, the antenna received a new, more powerful tip from the height of 327 metres, increasing the tower's height from originally 365 metres to 368 metres in summer 1997.
The TV Tower is one of the buildings in Berlin that is illuminated by a special light installation for several days during the Festival of Lights held every year in October since 2004. On the occasion of the 2006 FIFA World Cup, the tower ball was covered to make it look like a magenta football as part of an advertising campaign by the operator Telekom.
When the sun shines on the Fernsehturm's tiled stainless steel dome, the reflection usually appears in the form of a cross. Berliners nicknamed the luminous cross Rache des Papstes, or the "Pope's Revenge". For the same reasons, the structure was also called "St. Walter" (from Walter Ulbricht). U.S. President Ronald Reagan mentioned this in his Tear down this wall speech on 12 June 1987.
The distinctive outline of the Fernsehturm is sometimes used for logos
Berlin TV Tower with St. Mary's Church
Central Berlin with Oberbaum Bridge and TV Tower
Reichstag roof and Fernsehturm
Visitors and tourism
The Berlin TV Tower is not only a broadcasting tower, but also a landmark, tourist attraction and venue. The Berlin TV Tower is the highest publicly accessible building in Europe and the highest publicly accessible observation platform in Germany. The building is expected to lose its rank in 2017 when the Rottweiler Test Tower is completed and open to public. In the first three years after its inauguration, as many as four million people visited the structure. After the German reunification, the visitor average has levelled off to approximately 1.2 million from some 90 countries a year. Of these, around 60 per cent come from abroad, with Spaniards being the biggest group, accounting for 8.1 per cent, followed by Italians (7.6 per cent) and Danes (6.7 per cent). The maximum admissible number of persons inside the ball is 320 persons. Of the up to 5,000 visitors daily, about 1,500 visit the tower restaurant. In GDR times, the duration of a stay in the Tele-Café was limited to 60 minutes and in the observation deck to 30 minutes.
The two visitor elevators carry 12 people each in about 40 seconds to the observation platform at 203 metres, where Berlin's highest bar is also located. From 60 windows there is a panoramic view over the whole of Berlin and the surrounding areas. The restaurant, which is located 21 steps above the observation platform at 207 metres altitude, rotates 360 degrees in an hour. For fire protection reasons, the main kitchen is located at the foot of the tower. The meals are transported by lift to the restaurant floor, where they are prepared in a small satellite kitchen. Apart from the two evacuation platforms below the tower basket, the fire protection concept includes a strict smoking ban throughout the entire structure. Wheelchair users and persons with current walking disabilities cannot visit the Berlin TV Tower, as they could not use the escape route in case of emergency. Animals, prams and large luggage can also not be admitted for safety reasons.
On 14 June 2011 – almost 42 years after the inauguration – the then Governing Mayor Klaus Wowereit welcomed the 50 millionth visitor. The entire city can be viewed from the observation deck of the TV Tower. If there is good visibility, the view reaches to the recreational park Tropical Islands Resort, at a distance of almost 60 kilometres.
The TV Tower, which is open all year to the public, has seasonal opening times. The last ascent to the observation platform is daily at 11.30 pm, the last admission to the restaurant is at 11 pm. The public area can be rented for special events, parties, receptions and other events with a maximum of 200 guests. Civil weddings can also be celebrated on the TV Tower. In this case, the bar area on the observation deck is reserved for an hour for the bridal couple and a wedding party of up to 30 guests.
- 1 tuned mass damper
- Entrance of observation deck is 6.25 metres (20.5 ft) above ground
- 2 Kone lifts for transport of visitors
- 1 lift for transport of technical equipment and staff of technical facilities
- Steel stairway with 986 steps
- Evacuation platforms at 188 metres (617 ft) and 191 metres (627 ft) high
- Observation deck at 203.78 metres (668.6 ft)
- Restaurant at 207.53 metres (680.9 ft)
- Height of the tower: 368.03 metres (1,207.4 ft)
- Weight of the shaft: 26,000 tonnes (26,000 long tons; 29,000 short tons)
- Weight of the sphere 4,800 tonnes (4,700 long tons; 5,300 short tons)
- Diameter of the sphere 32 metres (105 ft)
- Foundation depth: between 2.7 metres (8.9 ft) and 5.8 metres (19 ft)
- Outer diameter of the foundation: 42 metres (138 ft)
- Diameter of the tower ball: 32 metres (105 ft)
- The transmission systems for television and radio broadcasting and the operating rooms of the technicians are situated at 216 metres (709 ft), 220 metres (720 ft) and 224 metres (735 ft)
- The air-conditioning system is located on the ground floor at 200 metres (660 ft), the fire-gas control centre for fire fighting is located on the top floor
- 150 different antennas for TV and radio transmission on the antenna carrier
- 20,000 square kilometres of transmission area
Channels by frequency
Analogue FM radio
|87.9 MHz||1||Star FM|
|90.2 MHz||16||Radio Teddy|
|91.4 MHz||100||Berliner Rundfunk 91,4|
|93.6 MHz||2.4||Jam FM|
|94.3 MHz||25||94,3 rs2|
|95.8 MHz||100||Radio Eins|
|98.8 MHz||1||98.8 KISS FM Berlin|
|99.7 MHz||100||Antenne Brandenburg|
|101.3 MHz||4||Klassik Radio|
|101.9 MHz||0.5||Radyo Metropol FM|
|103.4 MHz||8||Energy Berlin|
|104.6 MHz||10||104.6 RTL|
|105.5 MHz||5||105'5 Spreeradio|
|106.0 MHz||1||Radio B2|
Digital radio (DAB)/Digital mobile television (DMB)
|178.352 MHz||5C||10||DR Deutschland|
|190.640 MHz||7B||10||Berlin/BRBG 7B|
|194.064 MHz||7D||10||rbb Berlin K7D|
|229.072 MHz||12D||10||Berlin/BRBG K12D|
Digital television (DVB-T)
- UHF 25 (506 MHz) – RTL Group
- UHF 27 (522 MHz) – ARD national programming
- UHF 33 (570 MHz) – ZDFvision
- UHF 39 (618 MHz) – Mixed Berlin 4
- UHF 44 (658 MHz) – ProSiebenSat.1
- UHF 47 (682 MHz) – ARD regional programming
- UHF 50 (706 MHz) – Mixed Berlin 1
- UHF 56 (754 MHz) – Mixed Berlin 2
- UHF 59 (778 MHz) – Mixed Berlin 3
Analogue TV stations
The analogue TV service was shut down on August 4, 2003.
|175.25 MHz||5||100||TV.Berlin (originally DFF1)|
|519.25 MHz||27||1000||ORB-Fernsehen (originally DFF2)|
|631.25 MHz||41||1||BBC World|
- List of towers
- List of tallest freestanding structures in the world
- Fernsehturm Stuttgart
- Funkturm Berlin
- Fernmeldeturm Berlin
- "History". Berliner Fernsehturm. Retrieved 2016-02-11.[permanent dead link]
- Müller: Symbol mit Aussicht. Der Ost-Berliner Fernsehturm. S.148.
- "Top 10 Sights in Germany". meinestadt.de. Retrieved 2017-12-01.
- "Berlin TV Tower". City of Berlin. Archived from the original on 2015-09-25. Retrieved 2016-02-11.
- "Berliner Fernsehturm". The World Federation of Great Towers. Retrieved 2016-02-11.
- "Facts & Figures" (PDF). Berliner Fernsehturm. Retrieved 2016-02-11.[permanent dead link]
- Müller: Symbol mit Aussicht. Der Ost-Berliner Fernsehturm. S.19.
- "Fernsehturm, Berlin". Worldsiteguides.com. Archived from the original on 2014-03-17. Retrieved 2012-10-16.
- Rick Steves. Berlin (Video). Rick Steves' Europe. Event occurs at 14:00 – via YouTube.
- Dibelius, Ulrich (2007). The names of the Berlin Fernsehturm. Berlin.
- "Berlin Television Tower: An iconic symbol of Germany's capital city". Visit Berlin. Retrieved 2017-12-01.
- "Press Release Fernsehturm Berlin". Berliner Fernsehturm. Archived from the original on 2013-02-12. Retrieved 2017-12-01.
- "Safety Instructions". Berliner Fernsehturm. Retrieved 2017-12-01.
- "Accessibility". Berliner Fernsehturm. Retrieved 2017-12-01.
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