It’s perhaps Berlin’s best-known historic landmark and one of the most often recommended to tourists.
A powerful symbol of German division, Checkpoint Charlie was a point of crossing between Berlin’s divided East and West, and the chilling scene of US and Soviet tanks facing each other when the Berlin Wall was built in 1961.
Today, if you look for the original wall that ran through that area, you’ll be disappointed. Instead, you’ll only see the erstwhile boundary line embedded in the pavement.
But as of August 24, visitors to this historic sight can go on a virtual journey through time to see life when the city was divided in two.
A new trip by German digital company TimeRide will take you back to Berlin in the 1980s, and will use virtual reality to let you experience history up close.
Equipped with VR glasses, visitors taking this virtual tour will see the city in an entirely new light, as it was before reunification. Contemporary witnesses will share their experiences during the tour of the border crossing, the Wall and everyday life in East and West.
Checkpoint Charlie was one of three control points of the Western powers in Berlin. There was checkpoint A in Helmstedt and checkpoint B in Drewitz. At the C – Charlie – checkpoint, only foreigners, diplomats and Allied military personnel could cross between East and West Berlin.
On October 27, 1961, nearly 10 weeks after the start of construction of the Wall, US and Soviet tanks squared off against each other at the checkpoint. For 16 hours, the two superpowers’ tanks, armed with live ammunition, were separated only by a few metres. The world held its breath in one of the most chilling moments of the Cold War.
Today, tourists from around the world stand at the display boards or are led around by tour guides seeking to conjure up the era.