The former military checkpoint, Checkpoint Charlie, is probably the most famous border crossing at the Berlin Wall.
As one of the most important sites of the Cold War and witness to sensational escape attempts, the must-see is now one of the most popular sights in Berlin.
In this guide, we reveal everything you need to know before your visit. This includes the history, things to do, how to get there, and more.
What is Checkpoint Charlie?
Checkpoint Charlie was one of a total of 14 Berlin border crossings through the Berlin Wall, which divided the city into an eastern and a western parts from 1961 to 1989.
The military checkpoint on Friedrichstraße, between Zimmerstraße and Kochstraße, connected the East Berlin Mitte district in the Soviet sector, with the West Berlin Kreuzberg district in the US-American sector. It was used exclusively by Allied military personnel, foreigners, and employees of the Permanent Mission of the FRG in the GDR, as well as by GDR officials.
The name is derived from the International Letter Alphabet. After the Helmstedt-Marienborn (Checkpoint Alpha) and Dreilinden-Drewitz (Checkpoint Bravo) border crossings, Checkpoint Charlie was the third Allied checkpoint used by the Americans, and it was actually called the Friedrichstraße border crossing.
Things to do at Checkpoint Charlie
Although neither the Berlin Wall nor the original watchtowers and turnpikes of the checkpoint exist at the historic site today, the former checkpoint on Friedrichstraße has turned into a tourist attraction with great appeal and a very popular photo spot.
See below what you can see and do at Checkpoint Charlie:
1. Explore the Historic Site
One reason why Checkpoint Charlie is visited by tourists from all over the world today is that the history of Berlin's division can be experienced and felt here. Thanks to faithful replicas of the military base, you can get an authentic impression of what it was like in GDR times.
The replicas consist of a guardhouse, barrier, sandbag barricade, American flag, and a sign in the languages of the occupying powers and in German indicating that visitors are leaving the American sector. They were placed on August 13, 2000, where the originals once stood.
2. View the Photo Installation
A photo installation quickly catches the eye of visitors. It shows larger-than-life portraits of an American soldier (Jeff Harper) looking east, and on the reverse, a Soviet soldier in Russian uniform looking west.
These photos were taken before the withdrawal of the last Allies in Berlin, including these two soldiers, by Berlin photographer Frank Thiel. His art project is meant to be a reference to the dramatic moments 60 years ago, when American and Soviet tanks faced each other at this spot, ready for battle.
3. Visit the Mauermuseum at Checkpoint Charlie
The Mauermuseum at Checkpoint Charlie (Wall Museum) is located directly at the former border fortification and deals with the countless escape attempts from the GDR and the injustice of the SED regime. Rainer Hildebrandt, a former resistance fighter against National Socialism, opened the Wall Museum at Checkpoint Charlie in 1963 - just two years after the Berlin Wall was built - with the aim of both documenting and supporting escape plans.
Today, the House at Checkpoint Charlie houses extremely inventive escape objects as well as many props from 30 years of Berlin Wall and escape history on approximately 1,733 square meters of exhibition space spread over three different houses.
4. Discover Nearby Attractions
Checkpoint Charlie is located in Friedrichstraße, which is steeped in history. Therefore, quite a few Berlin sights can be found in the vicinity. These include the Mauermuseum, the Trabi Museum, Topography of Terror, the Asisi Panorama "The Wall" and the BlackBox Cold War Museum.
A great way to explore Berlin's tourist attractions in a very flexible way is to take a self-guided audio tour. We recommend the audio guide app from our partner YourMobileGuide. The audio tour Berlin - Divided City lets you immerse yourself in the dramatic history of Berlin, when the Berlin Wall tore families and friends apart, and takes you to the most important original sites and museums in the former East and West Berlin.
Entrance, Tickets & Tours for Checkpoint Charlie & Mauermuseum
- Entrance: Admission to Checkpoint Charlie is free and available around the clock. The Mauermuseum - House at Checkpoint Charlie is open daily from 9:00 - 22:00.
- Tickets: For current admission prices and tickets, please visit the museum's official website.
- Tours: If you would like to explore the Mauermuseum or the historic site on a guided tour, the Wall Museum offers individual guided tours or small tours on various topics on the following page: mauermuseum.de/en/
How to get to Checkpoint Charlie?
- From Alexanderplatz: Take the U-Bahn U2 and get off after five stops at "Stadtmitte". From there, it is only about a 5-minute walk.
- From Potsdamer Platz: Take the U-Bahn U2 and go two stops to the "Stadtmitte" stop. After a 5-minute walk, you will reach Checkpoint Charlie.
FAQ about the Checkpoint Charlie
Checkpoint Charlie was one of a total of 14 Berlin border crossings through the Berlin Wall, which separated Berlin into an East and a West part from 1961 to 1989. The military checkpoint on Friedrichstraße, between Zimmerstraße and Kochstraße, connected the East Berlin district of Mitte of the Soviet sector, with the West Berlin district of Kreuzberg of the US sector.
Today, the former border crossing is one of the most famous tourist attractions in Berlin. Replicas show what the situation at the former checkpoint was like in the days of the GDR.
Checkpoint Charlie became world famous on October 27, 1961, when, after the construction of the Berlin Wall, American and Soviet tanks took up positions here and faced each other with live ammunition.
The trigger was the so-called Khrushchev Note, which announced that the Soviet Union would transfer control of the connecting routes between West Germany and West Berlin to the GDR. However, it did not come to an open confrontation.
Checkpoint Charlie is located on Friedrichstraße, in Berlin-Mitte. The address is: Friedrichstraße 43-45, 10117 Berlin, Germany
The name Checkpoint Charlie is derived from the International Letter Alphabet. After the Helmstedt-Marienborn (Checkpoint Alpha) and Dreilinden-Drewitz (Checkpoint Bravo) border crossings, Checkpoint Charlie was the third Allied checkpoint used by the Americans and it was actually called the Friedrichstraße border crossing.
One of the escape attempts that attracted international attention was that of Jutta Gallus, also known as "The Woman from Checkpoint Charlie." In the 1980s, her escape attempt with her two daughters failed after she was spied on by the Stasi. She was then separated from her children and sentenced to three years in prison.
After two years in prison, she was released by the German government, but had to leave her daughters behind in East Berlin. For months, she demonstrated at Checkpoint Charlie with posters, with slogans such as "Give me back my children!", which became a symbol of the injustice in the GDR.
It was after six years of separation that the family was reunited in West Berlin in 1988. The fate of Jutta Gallus and her two daughters is dealt with in the film, "The Woman from Checkpoint Charlie".
History & Facts about Checkpoint Charlie
Immediately after the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961, the border crossing Checkpoint Charlie was built by the Western Allies in August/ September 1961 in Friedrichstraße, between Zimmerstraße and Kochstraße.
Checkpoint Charlie became world famous on October 27, 1961, when American and Soviet tanks took up positions here and faced off with live ammunition, leaving the world on the brink of World War III.
The trigger was the "Khrushchev Note," which announced that the Soviet Union would transfer control of the routes connecting West Germany and West Berlin to the GDR. However, open confrontation did not occur. In the years that followed, the border crossing was the scene of spectacular escapes, some successful, others fatal.
Directly at the border wall, whose former course can be seen through a double row of cobblestones on Zimmerstrasse, a viewing platform was erected on the West Berlin side from which curious Berliners and tourists could see the death strip and the border crossing point on the East Berlin side.
Checkpoint Charlie was dismantled in June 1990, barely half a year after the fall of the Wall and a few months before German reunification. On August 13, 2000, faithful replicas of the former checkpoint were placed where the originals once stood. The original checkpoint is located in the Allied Museum.
Contact & Map
- Address: Friedrichstraße 43-45, 10117 Berlin, Germany
- Opening Hours: Open daily around the clock
- Public Transport: U6 to "U Kochstraße/ Checkpoint Charlie
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