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Checkpoint Charlie

Experience history up close at Checkpoint Charlie, one of the most famous border crossings of the Berlin Wall. From 1961 to 1990, this checkpoint connected East and West Berlin and became a symbol of the Cold War. Today, it is one of Berlin’s most visited attractions. The historical reconstruction of the control booth and the Wall Museum offer fascinating insights into the dramatic escape attempts and the history of the Berlin Wall. Visit Checkpoint Charlie and let yourself be captivated by Berlin’s history. A guided tour is the best way to learn about the exciting history of this place.

Checkpoint Charlie: Border Crossing at Friedrichstrasse

Checkpoint Charlie was one of the most famous border crossings through the Berlin Wall, which divided Berlin from 1961 to 1990. It connected the Soviet and American zones on Friedrichstrasse, between Zimmerstrasse and Kochstrasse, allowing passage from East Berlin’s Mitte district to West Berlin’s Kreuzberg district. The checkpoint was established in August/September 1961 by the Western Allies to allow their military personnel to cross the sector border while being registered and briefed. No controls were conducted on the western side for other users.

Today, the former border crossing is one of Berlin’s most visited attractions. Although the original buildings no longer exist, interest in this historic site remains high. It is a symbol of German division and the Cold War. In addition to the famous checkpoint, the Wall Museum is located nearby, providing information on numerous escape attempts and the history of the wall.

Border Crossing Checkpoint Charlie: History & Background

Checkpoint Charlie was, alongside the Glienicke Bridge, the most famous border crossing controlled by Americans during the division of Berlin. Only foreigners, employees of the Permanent Representation of the FRG in the GDR, and GDR officials were allowed to use this crossing. The location gained worldwide attention in October 1961 when American and Soviet tanks faced off here, nearly leading to a third world war. In the following years, the checkpoint was the scene of many spectacular and often deadly escape attempts.

Following reunification, the Berlin Wall was quickly dismantled, and the current barracks are a reconstruction of the original border post. Numerous tourist facilities have developed around Checkpoint Charlie, making the history of the site vividly accessible. The Wall Museum provides in-depth insights into escape attempts and displays various escape objects. A large picture of a soldier protrudes over Friedrichstrasse, and a small wooden barracks with flags and sandbags stands at the foot of the mast. These reconstructions evoke the era of the Cold War and are popular photo opportunities. Even today, Checkpoint Charlie attracts many visitors eager to learn more about Berlin’s history.

The name “Checkpoint Charlie” derives from the international phonetic alphabet (Alpha, Bravo, Charlie). Alongside Helmstedt-Marienborn (Alpha) and Dreilinden-Drewitz (Bravo), it was the third checkpoint used by the Allies in and around Berlin.

The checkpoint was also a scene of spectacular escapes from the GDR. Some of the most notable events include the fatal escape of Peter Fechter in August 1962 and the successful escape of three GDR citizens with a gravel truck in August 1986. The last known refugee from Checkpoint Charlie was Hans-Peter Spitzner, who crossed the border in August 1989 with his daughter in the trunk of an Allied vehicle.

On June 22, 1990, before German reunification, the checkpoint was dismantled as part of a memorial ceremony. Today, the original Checkpoint Charlie can be visited at the Allied Museum in Berlin. An augmented reality app, Cold War Berlin, offers a three-dimensional representation of the border crossing, complemented by historical photos, films, and radio broadcasts. This app is available for free in all app stores, allowing users to experience history interactively.

Wall Museum at Checkpoint Charlie

The Wall Museum, located in former residential and commercial spaces, including Café Köln, documents the dramatic history of Checkpoint Charlie. Since the construction of the wall in 1961, this border crossing became the focal point of the Cold War: from the first American tanks and the tank confrontation in October 1961, to the death of Peter Fechter and the visit of John F. Kennedy, to the fall of the wall in 1989. Founded by Dr. Rainer Hildebrandt and opened on June 14, 1963, the museum provides insights into escape attempts and the history of the Berlin Wall. Today, Checkpoint Charlie commemorates the division of Berlin and the freedom fought for.

Visitor Information


Friedrichstrasse 43-45
10117 Berlin

Checkpoint Charlie: Tickets & Tours