Aside from the remnants of the Berlin Wall, Checkpoint Charlie (with its name taken from the American phonetic alphabet) is the biggest symbol of the Cold War in Berlin. Open to tourists all year round, Checkpoint Charlie has become one of the most vastly visited museums of today. In the year of 2007 it actually attracted around a whopping 850,000 people!
So just what is Checkpoint Charlie and how did it come about? During the Cold War when the Berlin Wall was built in 1961, American President John F. Kennedy had three U.S checkpoints built at different parts of the wall. The other two were named Alpha and Brava, also after the first two letters of the American phonetic alphabet. The checkpoints were primarily used for the intention of allied forces and diplomats to be able to enter West Berlin without any issue, however Checkpoint Charlie became the most popular due to it being the only place foreign visitors to Berlin were able to cross between East Berlin and West Berlin.
During the earlier time of Checkpoint Charlie being in use, it became an intense battlefield where U.S and Soviet tanks fought against each other. The checkpoint has also been used in various spy novels and movies which were based around the Cold War, making it perhaps the most famous checkpoint on the wall.
Since the Berlin Wall was abolished in 1989, so too was the use of the checkpoints as Berlin was then united together once again and its citizens free to pass over the wall as they wished. It was finally removed in 1990 leaving no trace of it ever having been there.
In our present day and age, Checkpoint Charlie is basically a reconstruction of the original site and visitors may check out a little museum a few meters from where the Checkpoint’s booth was. It is here where you can read all about the Berlin Wall’s history and the checkpoints. The museum really brings to light how life was back when the Berlin Wall was erected and how many Germans tried to flee East Berlin. There are also a few original artifacts on display as well as pictures of survivors who actually managed to escape the communism of East Berlin. For just a small fee you can actually get yourself a nice souvenir picture of yourself being checked through the checkpoint by actors playing the roles of U.S military Police. If you head on over to the Allied Museum in Zehlendorf you will be able to view the original booth used as well as allied guardhouses.
There are plenty of nice hotels situated around Checkpoint Charlie such as Hotel Gat Point and Mercure Hotel & Residenz which enable visitors to stay in one of the most historical areas in Berlin! Not just because of Checkpoint Charlie but because less than a mile away you can find attractions such as the Holocaust Memorial, Potsdamer Platz and even Gendarmenmarkt, a beautifully built square with magnificent buildings including cathedrals and a concert hall!