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Checkpoint Charlie

Once a point of tension and dramatic escape attempts, this Cold War relic is now one of Berlin's biggest tourist attractions.

Checkpoint Charlie was the main crossing point of the Berlin Wall for soldiers, foreigners and diplomats on the Allied side. The famous sign, “You are now leaving the American sector,” still stands, a relic of the Cold War that divided Berlin between 1961 and 1989. There is also a replica guardhouse, a sobering reminder of the fear and anxiety Berliners lived with on a daily basis. The site is on Friedrichstrasse, a major street in central Berlin.    

In 1961, to stem the massive exodus of its citizens, a desperate East German government built the Berlin Wall. At first it was a basic barbed wire fence, but later became a 96-mile (155-kilometer) long, solid wall of concrete. Checkpoint Charlie was a main crossing and the focal point for a tense stand-off involving Russian and American tanks in 1961. The guards at Checkpoint Charlie today, however, are not checking passports, and they're not soldiers, but actors, posing for photographs.

Pick up imitation Russian military caps and other Cold War souvenirs at the nearby stalls. To learn more about the checkpoint and the wall, visit the Museum Haus Am Checkpoint Charlie. Opened just a year after the wall was erected, it’s been documenting the stories and social implications of the “great divider” ever since. Through personal stories and evocative photographs it documents the many escape attempts over the wall. There are artifacts from some of the more daring plans, including cars with secret compartments and a hollowed-out surfboard.

The museum includes a café, though given Checkpoint Charlie sits on Friedrichstrasse, one of Berlin's main thoroughfares, finding a bite to eat nearby is not difficult. There’s also a museum shop that sells every Cold War-themed souvenir imaginable, including small chunks of the wall.

Checkpoint Charlie is easily reached via the Kochstrasse U-Bahn station.


Guide to Exploring around Checkpoint Charlie Museum


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Lodging Near Checkpoint Charlie Museum

See all 1,030 Properties near Checkpoint Charlie Museum
Select Hotel Berlin Gendarmenmarkt $70
Select Hotel Berlin Gendarmenmarkt

Select Hotel Berlin Gendarmenmarkt

Charlottenstrasse 66, Berlin
     
    4.1
    of 5, from 1,994 reviews
    4.0 out of 5.0

    Located in Mitte, this hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Friedrichstrasse and Gendarmenmarkt. Checkpoint Charlie Museum and Galeries Lafayette are also within 10 minutes. City Center U-Bahn is only a 3-minute walk and Hausvogteiplatz U-Bahn is 6 minutes.

    Select Hotel Berlin The Wall $70
    Select Hotel Berlin The Wall

    Select Hotel Berlin The Wall

    Zimmerstrasse 88, Berlin
       
      4.5
      of 5, from 1,371 reviews
      4.0 out of 5.0

      Located in Mitte, this hotel is steps from Friedrichstrasse and Checkpoint Charlie Museum. Galeries Lafayette and Gendarmenmarkt are also within 15 minutes. City Center U-Bahn and Kochstrasse U-Bahn are within a 5-minute walk.

      NH Collection Berlin Mitte am Checkpoint Charlie $80
      NH Collection Berlin Mitte am Checkpoint Charlie

      NH Collection Berlin Mitte am Checkpoint Charlie

      Leipziger Str. 106-111, Berlin
         
        4.3
        of 5, from 2,160 reviews
        4.5 out of 5.0

        This Berlin hotel is a half-block from the Stadtmitte U-Bahn (subway) station, 1 block from Friedrichstrasse, 2 blocks from Checkpoint Charlie, and 4 blocks from the historical Gendarmenmarkt square.

        Scandic Berlin Potsdamer Platz $72
        Scandic Berlin Potsdamer Platz

        Scandic Berlin Potsdamer Platz

        Gabriele Tergit Promenade 19, Berlin
           
          4.5
          of 5, from 2,821 reviews
          4.0 out of 5.0

          Located in Mitte, this hotel is 0.5 mi (0.8 km) from German Spy Museum Berlin. Mendelssohn Bartholdy Park U-Bahn is only a 3-minute walk and Gleisdreieck U-Bahn is 8 minutes.

          Park Inn by Radisson Berlin Alexanderplatz $81
          Park Inn by Radisson Berlin Alexanderplatz

          Park Inn by Radisson Berlin Alexanderplatz

          Alexanderplatz 7, Berlin
             
            4.0
            of 5, from 7,934 reviews
            4.5 out of 5.0

            Located in Mitte, this luxury hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Alexanderplatz and TV Tower. Red Town Hall and DDR Museum are also within 15 minutes. Alexanderplatz Station is only a 4-minute walk and Alexanderplatz U-Bahn is 5 minutes.

            Cityhostel Berlin Mitte $48
            Cityhostel Berlin Mitte

            Cityhostel Berlin Mitte

            Glinkastr. 5-7, Berlin
               
              3.6
              of 5, from 458 reviews
              2.0 out of 5.0

              Located in Mitte, this hostel is within a 10-minute walk of Friedrichstrasse, Checkpoint Charlie Museum, and Galeries Lafayette. Brandenburg Gate and Gendarmenmarkt are also within 15 minutes. Mohrenstrasse U-Bahn and City Center U-Bahn are within a 5-minute walk.

              Radisson Blu Hotel, Berlin $108
              Radisson Blu Hotel, Berlin

              Radisson Blu Hotel, Berlin

              Karl-Liebknecht-Str. 3, Berlin
                 
                4.6
                of 5, from 7,344 reviews
                4.5 out of 5.0

                Located in the historic Mitte neighborhood, this Berlin hotel is on the banks of the River Spree and close to Berlin Cathedral, Alexanderplatz Square, and Museum Island, not to mention the metro station for those wishing to explore farther.

                Mondrian Suites Berlin Checkpoint Charlie $83
                Mondrian Suites Berlin Checkpoint Charlie

                Mondrian Suites Berlin Checkpoint Charlie

                Markgrafenstrasse 16 - 16a, Berlin
                   
                  4.4
                  of 5, from 677 reviews
                  3.0 out of 5.0

                  This family-friendly Berlin apartment building is located in the business district, within a 10-minute walk of Jewish Museum Berlin and Checkpoint Charlie. Gendarmenmarkt and Potsdamer Platz are also within 1 mi (2 km). Kochstrasse U-Bahn is 6 minutes by foot and City Center U-Bahn is 9 minutes.