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Checkpoint Charlie

The most famous East and West Berlin crossing point, Checkpoint Charlie unravels years of Cold War tensions.

TravelCurious Tip

Be prepared that a lot of the original structures have been moved or destroyed since 1989; most of the original artefacts from Checkpoint Charlie are actually in the open-air ‘Allied Museum’ in Berlin-Zehlendorf.

Brain drain

Between 1949 and 1961, over 3½ million East Germans, many of them young and well-educated, fled to the West. So ferocious was this brain drain that that Walter Ulbricht, the East German leader, coerced the Soviet union into building a wall between the two powers of East and West. The most popular border crossing between the two became known as Checkpoint Charlie, which separated American and Soviet zones.

Today, on a stroll down Friedrichstraße Checkpoint Charlie comes as a sudden, surprising reminder of the turbulent times the city has faced. Halfway down the popular street in Mitte, the former border crossing is commemorated by a open museum.


Clash of ideals

The name Charlie came from the letter C in the NATO phonetic alphabet, and as the most visible Berlin Wall checkpoint, Checkpoint Charlie has crept into popular culture through its frequent features in spy movies and books.

A famous rendezvous and viewing place for Allied officials, armed forces and visitors alike, the Café Adler is situated right on the checkpoint. It was, and still is, an excellent vantage point from which to look into East Berlin without raising suspicion while having something to eat or drink.

Since communist times, Checkpoint Charlie has become a major tourist attraction. An open-air exhibit was opened during the summer of 2006. Information on the walls of Friedrichstraße and Zimmerstraße inform on escape attempts, its significance during the Cold War, and in particular the confrontation of Soviet and American tanks in 1961 known as the Berlin Wall Crisis.

Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in Berlin
Führerbunker
The Führerbunker is where Hitler spent his last days, cowering with his highest commanders whilst the Soviet army slowly approached Berlin.
Topography of Terror
With a plethora of exhibitions, this museum underscores the darker elements of the story of Germany.
St Hedwig's Cathedral
The seat of the archbishop of Berlin, this cathedral beautifully models the Pantheon in Rome.
Gendarmenmarkt
An aesthetically remarkable square, host to the statue of Germany's famous poet Friedrich Schiller.
Friedrichstraße
A major cultural hub, Friedrichstraße is the perfect street for a leisurely day's shopping.
Jewish Museum Berlin
The Jewish Museum Berlin is one of the largest Jewish Museums in Europe.

Related Tours

History of the Second World War Private Tour of Berlin
Explore the history of World War II in Berlin, with the expertise of a private guide, who will take you on an immersive experience through the capital city. On your private tour, you will:

  • Meet your private guide, who will take you on an immersive tour of the capital, as told through the lens of World War II. 
  • Begin at the Reichstag where you will learn the history of this building, and see the bullet holes and graffiti left by Soviet soldiers from 1945. 
  • See where the Nazi's book burning took place at Bebelplatz
  • Visit many of Berlin’s memorials, dedicated to those murdered and persecuted in World War II. 
  • Explore Tiergarten ParkUnter de Linden, and the Stolpersteine stones.
  • Pay your respects at the Holocaust memorial
  • Take a guided walk through the "Berlin 1933-1945 between Propaganda & Terror" exhibition.
  • Finish your tour with a suggested visit to the indoor museum "Topography of Terror". Your guide will give you the information about how to best see it, before finishing your tour. 

Travellers are usually humbled by the extreme efforts, honesty, and openness of Germany in commemorating the Second World War in Berlin. See the majestic Brandenburg Gate, and wander along with the historic Unter den Linden Boulevard. Visit Berlin’s memorials to the victims of war and those persecuted. These include memorials to the Holocaust victims, Albert Einstein, Book Burning, Neue Wache and the Soviet War Monument. Explore the beautiful Tiergarten Park, hear the stories of desperate Berliners who used the park as farmland and for firewood after the war. Learn about the final moments of World War II in Europe. See the bullet holes, shrapnel and Soviet graffiti that cover the Reichstag building. A visit to Berlin is a reminder to never forget. This tour explores the German culture of memory while talking about those who lost their lives and were persecuted.  
Berlin in a Day: Private Full Day Highlights with Tickets
Uncover the remarkable history of Berlin, on a full day, which explores both the east and the west. On your private tour, you will:  

  • Be met by your private guide in the heart of the city centre. 
  • Explore several sites, including the Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag, and Tiergarten Park.
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  • See the Berlin Wall, and then stop for lunch at a local marketplace, where your guide will give you several recommendations.
  • Learn to take public transit, with the help of your private guide.
  • Explore formerly East-Berlin, and see its highlights, including the East Side GalleryAlexanderplatz, and ‘the Treehouse.’ 
  • Finish your tour with tickets to Berlin’s TV Tower, where you will enjoy spectacular views across the whole city. 

Berlin served as the epicentre of several of the twentieth century’s most momentous parts of history: from the rise of Nazism to the Cold War and the Berlin Wall. A full-day tour is the best way to explore this history and the various layers of the city before and after these events. On your private tour, you will see the old and the new, including the Jewish Quarter which itself has over 800 years of history, before ending your tour at the futuristic Fernsehturm, the Berlin TV Tower. 

Through this tour, you will embark on a journey through time, visiting sites that played a role as Berlin evolved from a royal city through to imperial capital, cosmopolitan hub to Nazi bastion, and from Cold War division to its contemporary renewal and prosperity. A century of geopolitical struggle, hubris, nemesis and rebirth have marked this fascinating city from the ambitions of the Kaiser to defeats in two World Wars. Throughout the day, your tour will be taking you to the historic landmarks where so much of the city (and world) history played out. 

Your tour finishes with tickets to Berlin’s TV tower, where your guide will give you timed entrance tickets to ascend to the observation deck. From there, you’ll be able to see all the places you have explored throughout the day and see the complex and wonderful city from above. 

Best of Berlin Private Tour with Tickets to the Berlin Television Tower
Full of historic gems, Berlin is a must-visit for anyone wanting to become better acquainted with one of the most vibrant cities in Europe. On this half-day highlights tour, you will:

  • Meet your private guide, who will take you on an immersive tour of the capital. 
  • Begin your tour at the Brandenburg Gate – one of the symbols of Berlin.
  • See one of Berlin’s most iconic buildings – the Reichstag and learn about its historical and political significance over the past one hundred years. 
  • Explore 17th Street where you will come across the Holocaust MemorialHitler’s Bunker and even see pieces of what remains of the Berlin Wall
  • Stroll past across Museum Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, on your way to the Berliner Fernsehturm (TV Tower).
  • Visit Checkpoint Charlie – an open-air exhibit illustrating milestones in Cold War history.
  • Finish with tickets to the Berlin TV Tower Observation Deck. Your guide will take you to the queue and give you timed tickets, before departing with you.

On this half-day highlights tour, you will have the pleasure of learning about Berlin – from the beginning of the 20th century to modern times. Since the late 1800s, Berlin has seen triumphs and defeats. From being a formidable empire to be reckoned with in the late 1800s to early 1900s to being fully decimated after World War I, to the rise of Hitler in the 1930-1940s, to again being virtually destroyed after World War II, to being a city divided during the Cold War and finally with the Berlin Wall coming down in 1989 – it’s sufficed to say the past 150 years in Berlin have been dramatic and turbulent. Through this tour, you will experience first-hand, the fascinating political history of the German capital.  

The Best of Berlin for Families Private Tour
On this half-day tour, you and your family are invited to explore Berlin's history in a vivid and engaging way- from the beginning of the 20th century to the present day. On your private, family-friendly tour, you will:

  • Meet your private guide, who will take you on an immersive tour of the capital. 
  • Learn all about the history of the city from your private guide, who will be able to tailor the sensitive stories based on the age of your children.
  • Begin your tour at the Brandenburg Gate – one of the symbols of Berlin.
  • See one of Berlin’s most iconic buildings – the Reichstag and learn about its historical and political significance over the past one hundred years. 
  • Explore 17th Street where you will come across the Holocaust Memorial, Hitler’s Bunker and even see pieces of what remains of the Berlin Wall
  • Visit Checkpoint Charlie – an open-air exhibit illustrating milestones in Cold War history.
  • Finish your tour on Museum Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where you may continue exploring the island and its parks as a family. 
  • Please note: while the guide will tailor the stories to be appropriate for age groups, we do note that much of what is covered in this tour may be sensitive for younger children. On the day of the tour, your guide can also reduce the number of stops related to World War 2 and the Cold War, based on your comfort as a parent or guardian. 

On this half-day highlights tour, you will have the pleasure of learning about Berlin – from the beginning of the 20th century to modern times. Since the late 1800s, Berlin has seen triumphs and defeats. From being a formidable empire to be reckoned with in the late 1800s to early 1900s to being fully decimated after World War I, to the rise of Hitler in the 1930-1940s, to again being virtually destroyed after World War II, to being a city divided during the Cold War and finally with the Berlin Wall coming down in 1989 – it’s sufficed to say the past 150 years in Berlin have been dramatic and turbulent. Through this tour, you will experience first-hand, the fascinating political history of the German capital. 

On this private tour, you and your family take centre stage. Because of this your tour will be much more intimate and rewarding – ask as many or as little questions as you wish and experience history in a way that is completely different to the classroom. After this tour, you and your family will have a good background in the fascinating political history of the German capital.  Not to be missed!
Berlin's Mitte Historical Sites Live Virtual Tour
On this Live Virtual Tour, we will take you to Berlin's Mitte to learn about the Historic Sites, where you will stroll by the first and most central borough of Berlin with your expert local guide. On this Private "Berlin's Mitte Historical Sites Live Virtual Tour" you will discover: 
 
  •  Brandenburger Tor: deeply ensconced in the history of the city and the fall of the wall
  •  Reichstag: An example of the transformation the country has undergone since World War II
  •  Holocaust memorial: a field of undulating, erect stones between Brandenburger Tor and Potsdamer Platz
  •  Hitler's bunker site
Mitte was part of East Berlin and it was closed to the West between 1961 and 1990 and surrounded by the concrete Berlin Wall which divided the city. The iconic border crossing is the famous Checkpoint Charlie which still exists and it's become a very popular attraction.
 
There’s no shortage of things to do in Mitte the centre of Berlin and where the city was born in the 13th-century. Home to a number of World War II sites, restaurants and cultural landmarks it's well worth visiting. 
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