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Checkpoint Charlie

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Besides the Berlin Wall, hardly anything symbolizes divided Germany in the Cold War as much as the Checkpoint Charlie. After all, this was the most famous border crossing between East and West Berlin. Today a replica guardhouse and the Checkpoint Charlie Museum remind us of the divided metropolis. In addition, tours allow you to learn much more about the history of Berlin and the Berlin Wall.

If you want to learn a lot about the dramatic history of divided Berlin in the Cold War, book your visit including a visit to the Wall Museum.
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Admission tickets

Book tickets for the Checkpoint Charlie Museum.
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Skip-the-Line: Berlin Wall Museum at Checkpoint Charlie
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Guided tours

With a tour around the area, you will learn even more about Checkpoint Charlie.
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Private Walking Tour: Berlin Wall, Cold War and Checkpoint Charlie
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More tickets & tours

Discover even more products that make a detour to Checkpoint Charlie and experience a beautiful day in Berlin.
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East Berlin: Greatest Escapes Quest Experience
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Berlin Wall & Cold War: Personal Life Stories Private Tour
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Berlin: Checkpoint Charlie Self-Guided Audio Tour
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City game scavenger hunt Berlin Mitte - independent city tour I discovery tour
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4 tips for visiting the Checkpoint Charlie

Performers at Checkpoint Charlie | Photo: Unsplash, yokeboy
Combine your visit with other sightsBasically, you can visit the guard house at Checkpoint Charlie around the clock because it is located directly on the street. There you will find a replica of the guardhouse and the control barracks from the Cold War. However, not many historical facts are prepared on site. If you want to learn more about the history of the old east-west border, you should visit the Checkpoint Charlie Museum located at Checkpoint Charlie, or participate in a Berlin Wall. Many tours also show the preserved parts of the Berlin Wall. We have additionally summarized the most important facts about Checkpoint Charlie and its history below on this website.
Berlin Wall Museum | Photo: Wiki Commons, Leandro Neumann Ciuffo - CC BY 2.0
Museums of Berlin historyReconstructed signs on the sidewalk inform visitors about leaving or entering the old American sector. This makes the location more suitable for snapshots than for historical insights. A few meters away is the Checkpoint Charlie Museum, which provides more information on the historical context. In addition to the Wall Museum, there are other museums nearby, most on the Cold War and life in East Berlin. The round panorama Die Mauer for example, or the BlackBox Cold War, which presents stories, documents and objects from Berlin and Germany. Only a short walk away are intact parts of the Berlin Wall on Wilhelmstraße and the Topography of Terror with exhibits on the Third Reich.
Come at the right time of day and don't forget your cameraIf you want to visit the place with less hustle, try it early in the morning or in the evening. The street is well-lit at night too, so you can always take pictures.
Watch out for the sidewalkThe replica of the border post is located on a traffic island in the middle of a busy street. Traffic calming began in 2023, but still pay attention to your surroundings.
Checkpoint Charlie | Photo: Flickr, Jeanne Menjoulet - CC BY 2.0

Facts about Checkpoint Charlie

During the Cold War, Checkpoint Charlie essentially served as the eye of the needle between the superpowers. Checkpoint Charlie was the main crossing point for those traveling between West Germany and East Germany (GDR) in Berlin.

Why was it called Checkpoint Charlie?

The official name of the checkpoint was Checkpoint C and in the phonetic alphabet of NATO the letter C is spelled with the word Charlie. So in radio communication, the border post was referred to as Checkpoint Charlie. This was so catchy that it quickly became left military use. The checkpoints A and B, i.e., Alpha and Bravo also existed. Because Checkpoint Charlie was the only place where allied forces and other foreigners in Berlin could travel back and forth between West and East, it became known worldwide and made its way into books, films, and TV series.

A place of delicate diplomacy

In 1961, at Checkpoint Charlie, the tanks of the USA and the Soviet Union faced each other after Soviet border soldiers wanted to inspect the papers of a top American diplomat - from the American point of view, a violation of rights. Only after a day of tough negotiations was there relaxation, but both sides are said to have been ready to actually use the tanks. Checkpoint Charlie was a frequent scene for prisoner exchanges between East and West and thus also an inspiration for many spy stories.

Replica of the guardhouse

The current guard house is a replica of the original from the 1960s. However, there were different constructions of it in the following decades until the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. The last guard house was removed during German reunification in October 1990 and is now in the Allied Museum.

Two sides of Checkpoint Charlie

The reconstruction of the guardhouse, as it can be seen today, represents the American side of Checkpoint Charlie. In the old Berlin of the GDR, the fortifications were much more extensive and complex: a watchtower, zigzag barriers, walls and a vehicle control barrack were part of the border. The Checkpoint in West Berlin was never intended as a permanent institution, which is why the border post on the FRG (Federal Republic of Germany) side was only lightly developed.
Wax sign at Checkpoint Charlie | Photo: Unsplash, Marie Rouilly

History of divided Berlin

Checkpoint Charlie today symbolically stands for the once divided Berlin, while the German capital itself tells more than any other metropolis about the Cold War.

Escalation after the Second World War

Shortly after the end of the Second World War, a global system conflict arose. Europe and the whole world divided between the sphere of influence of the USA on one side and the Soviet Union on the other side - this period, which lasted until 1989, is usually referred to as the Cold War. In post-war Berlin, which was occupied by the four allied powers of the World War, the situation escalated early. From 1948 to 1949, the Soviet Union attempted to bring Berlin completely into its sphere of influence and subsequently sealed off the city. The Western powers then supplied Berlin with food rations from airplanes for a year until the Soviet Union had to lift its blockade unsuccessfully.

Construction of the Berlin Wall

Many people suspect that the Berlin Wall was built shortly after the end of World War II. However, it was actually built in 1961. It was built by order of the Soviet Union or the GDR and was the final escalation in the German East-West conflict, which was intended to prevent escape movements to West Germany. The wall was not just a symbol of deterrence. It was surrounded by what was known as the 'Death Strip', and watchmen were given orders to shoot escapees. Research is divided on the number of victims until the fall of the wall, but it is estimated to be several hundred.

Countless escape attempts

In the nearly 40 years of the Berlin Wall, numerous escape attempts were made from East Berlin, as not only the Wall museum extensively documented. Many tried secret tunnels or cars with hidden compartments. The most spectacular escape was accomplished by the Strelzyk and Wetzel families with a self-made balloon - their story has been filmed multiple times since. Unfortunately, many did not succeed. Peter Fechter, then 18 years old, died in 1962, after he was shot by East Berlin border troops and failed to cross a barbed wire. His death led to demonstrations in West Berlin and further restrictions for Soviet troops in the city.

End of the Wall and United Germany

From the late 1980s, the Cold War was coming to an end. Starting with the policies of the communist General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev, reform movements in the Soviet Union gained momentum. In 1989, even the Berlin Wall was to become history. After a news report on freedom of travel was ambiguously processed, East Berliners streamed en masse to the Wall in a November night and brought it down in a peaceful revolution. The Soviet Union officially existed until 1991, but with the fall of the Wall, the end of the Cold War was sealed. As early as 1990, Germany was united. By the way, during the Cold War, Berlin was indeed the capital of the GDR, but in West Germany it was instead the comparatively small Bonn in North Rhine-Westphalia. Only on October 3, 1990, Berlin again became the capital of a united Germany.

Frequently Asked Questions

Am I allowed to take photos of Checkpoint Charlie?

Yes, the watch post is on an open street and can be photographed at any time. Read more.

Can I get a picture with the soldiers?

In the past, actors in military uniforms used to pose with tourists for a fee. Since 2019, this has been prohibited. Read more.

Where can I eat at Checkpoint Charlie?

At the intersection of Zimmerstraße and Friedrichstraße, there is a multitude of restaurants. Read more.

General information

opening hours

Checkpoint Charlie is located on a traffic island on a busy street and is accessible to the public at all times.


Checkpoint Charlie
Friedrichstraße 43-45
10969 Berlin


There are no fees for visiting Checkpoint Charlie. Tickets for the nearby Wall Museum, on the other hand, cost 17.50 € for adults, 11.50 € for disabled persons and 9.50 € for school children up to 18 years old.

how to get there

The border post is easily reachable by subway to Kochstraße (U6) or by bus to the Kochstraße/Checkpoint Charlie bus stop (Bus M29).
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