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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 878 Hotels near Checkpoint Charlie Museum
$45
Cityhostel Berlin

Cityhostel Berlin

Glinkastr. 5-7, Berlin
3.5
of 5, from 154 reviews
2.5 out of 5.0

Located in Berlin City Centre, this hostel is within a 10-minute walk of Galeries Lafayette, Checkpoint Charlie Museum, and Gendarmenmarkt. Brandenburg Gate and Potsdamer Platz are also within 15 minutes.

$114
Hilton Berlin

Hilton Berlin

Mohrenstr. 30, Berlin
4.4
of 5, from 2,070 reviews
5.0 out of 5.0

Located in the city center, the hotel is situated on Berlin's Gendarmenmarkt opposite the German Dome. Brandenburg Gate is only 1 kilometer away.

$152
Grand Hyatt Berlin

Grand Hyatt Berlin

Marlene-Dietrich-Platz 2, Berlin
4.7
of 5, from 1,266 reviews
5.0 out of 5.0

Located in the center of Berlin, this family-friendly hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Berliner Philharmonie and Potsdamer Platz. Brandenburg Gate and Checkpoint Charlie Museum are also within 1 mi (2 km).

$118
The Westin Grand, Berlin

The Westin Grand, Berlin

Friedrichstr. 158-164, Berlin
4.4
of 5, from 1,908 reviews
5.0 out of 5.0

In Mitte, Berlin's historic district, the hotel is located where boulevard Unter den Linden meets Friedrichstrasse and is close to Brandenburg Gate, Gendarmenmarkt, Museum Island, and Potsdamer Platz.

$52
Angleterre Hotel

Angleterre Hotel

Friedrichstr. 31, Berlin
4.2
of 5, from 1,942 reviews
4.5 out of 5.0

Late 19th century hotel with palatial façade, located within the centre of Berlin, 800 metres from Gendarmenmarkt.

$60
Select Hotel Berlin The Wall

Select Hotel Berlin The Wall

Zimmerstrasse 88, Berlin
4.5
of 5, from 956 reviews
4.5 out of 5.0

Located in Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, this hotel is steps from Checkpoint Charlie and Checkpoint Charlie Museum. Galeries Lafayette and Gendarmenmarkt are also within 15 minutes.

$66
Select Hotel Berlin Gendarmenmarkt

Select Hotel Berlin Gendarmenmarkt

Charlottenstrasse 66, Berlin
4.1
of 5, from 1,631 reviews
4.5 out of 5.0

Located in Berlin City Centre, this hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Konzerthaus Berlin and Gendarmenmarkt. Checkpoint Charlie Museum and Galeries Lafayette are also within 10 minutes.

$86
Scandic Berlin Potsdamer Platz

Scandic Berlin Potsdamer Platz

Gabriele Tergit Promenade 19, Berlin
4.5
of 5, from 2,436 reviews
4.5 out of 5.0

Located near the airport, this family-friendly hotel is 0.5 mi (0.8 km) from German Spy Museum Berlin.