On the outskirts of Berlin, where Neukölln and Schonefeld meet, a hill has one of the city’s best views. Called the Skypoint in Schonefeld, this manufactured structure is built over trash, and we took our drone there in June 2021 to capture its beauty.
On a Sunday afternoon, I was cycling at the edge of Berlin when I saw that the mustard fields in Schonefeld were blooming. I took some pictures and decided to bring my drone to the area over the following weekend to see how colorful those fields could look from above.
But when I got there later that week, it was too late. The mustard flowers were largely gone, but the Skypoint in Schonefeld was there, so I decided to explore it a bit since I have passed by it a few times but never went up there.
How come there is a hill in Schonefeld?
During the Cold War, when the Berlin Wall still choked the city, the households in West Berlin had issues with waste disposal. So, the politicians in the West struck a deal with East Berlin. A border crossing was built on the Berlin Wall, and trucks could deliver their garbage to a landfill nearby.
Over the years, this landfill in Großziethen has received almost 5 million tons of trash. And the field became a massive mountain of trash. All of it was delivered through a unique border crossing that you can still see the traces of it today.
What can you do when a landfill becomes a huge mountain? Should you find someone who knows how to handle and recycle waste? Of course not! This is not how the recently unified Germany dealt with the problems created by the wall.
What they did was simple. A layer of soil was placed over the waste. Almost one meter of soil over tons and tons of garbage was then declared a restricted zone. Easy, problem solved.
When some construction work started happening close by, in a neighboring area, they discovered contaminated sites, and now it was a big problem. In 1995, an extensive protection program started being developed in Schönefeld.
It took more than two decades to fix the garbage problem that started all the way during the Berlin Wall years. The waste mountain was sealed with a special kind of plastic cover. Nowadays, methane gas is produced by trash fermentation and converted into electricity in the small powerplant adjacent to the former landfill.
With the decomposing trash from the old Berlin, almost 250 households are supplied electricity.
A visit to the Skypoint in Schonefeld
You can see most of Berlin from the top of the Skypoint in Schönefeld. Even the TV Tower can be seen between the buildings around Gropiustadt. I often go through the area to cycle following the Berlin Wall tracks, and I love to see where the city ends.
There, you can cycle past fields where people ride horses and see cows nearby and even mountains where a landfill used to be. And the Skypoint in Schonefeld is not the only trash mountain in the area. Close by, you can find the Dörferblick, another artificial hill, but this one is made of debris from the Second World War. A classic trümmerberg.
Suppose you are looking for a different view of Berlin or a place to cycle by while following the Berlin Wall. In that case, you know you need to head straight into the area around the Skypoint in Schönefeld.
From Trash to Treasure: Flying a Drone over the Skypoint in Schonefeld
Großziethen, 12529 Schönefeld