Everyone is supposed to remember that Berlin's Fernsehturm (TV Tower) is 365m high and the tallest building in Berlin. As urban legend has it, the tower's height was a deliberate decision taken by Walter Ulbricht, Leader of the SED, so that every child would be able to remember it, just like the days of the year. In fact the tower's summit today is 368m.
Construction for the GDR transmitter started in the 1950s and the tower erected between 1965-69 was intended as the tallest tower in Europe second only to Moscow's own TV tower. It was built by East German architects Fritz Dieter, Günter Franke and Werner Ahrendt.
Berlin TV Tower is the only city TV tower in Europe
A separate TV broadcasting system for East Berlin was a necessity during the years of division and the fact that it was built right in the middle of the city was Ulbricht's original vision. It remains the only city TV tower in Europe. An extremely popular sight for tourists and Berliners alike, it currently receives over 1 million visitors a year. The lift reaches an altitude of 200m in 40 seconds; the observation deck is at a height of 203m and the restaurant at 207m. The restaurant, designed with an outer ring of revolving tables, serves coffee, snacks and reasonably priced meals while revolving once around its axis every 60 minutes. On a bright day, this is the way to take in Berlin and surrounding Brandenburg from an eagle-eyed view.
The tower consists of a 250m concrete shaft with a red and white striped steel mast. A 3m tip was replaced in 1997 and the sphere consists of seven floors on the inside, all of which are open to visitors. The sphere's surface consists of 140 stainless steel segments.
Alexanderplatz is a central square and traffic junction in Berlin's Mitte district. One of city's the most visited squares, Alexanderplatz is the site of many attractions and sights in Berlin.
The tower's second legend is that although it was intended to demonstrate technological advance it was doomed to an ironic fate. To the embarrassment of GDR authorities – the steel sphere below the antenna produced the reflection of a giant cross. Hence the popular joke, not appreciated by the SED government, that this was the Popes's revenge on the secular socialist State for having removed crucifixes from churches.
Berlin TV Tower was transformed into a magenta coloured football in 2006
The giant sphere's greatest moment of glory was unquestionably in June 2006. During the World Cup Football Championships it was transformed into a giant silver and magenta coloured football. It became the perfect symbol of the world football event.
Berlin TV Tower is part of a building ensemble at Alexanderplatz
Around the base of the tower is an exhibition centre and a restaurant building in an ensemble which includes the Neptune fountain, once situated on the palace square. It had been a gift to the Emperor from the city of Berlin. The cascades are representations of four German rivers: the Rhine, Elbe, Oder and Weichsel.