Forgotten Gems of Berlin Pt. 2

In the previous article, I gave a quick overview of the most important historical occurrences that have shaped the city of Berlin into that magical jewel as we know it today. I took you on a journey to Teufelsberg, one of the biggest eavesdropping stations of the US National Security Agency (NSA) during the Cold War times, which now serves as a recreational chill-out place for many tourists and artists. This stunning group of bubble-shaped buildings on top of a 120,1-meter hill, Teufelsberg (Eng. Devil’s Mountain), is a must-see, but don’t worry if you can’t make it there for a reason or another, there are heaps of other impressive abandoned places to explore.

Neukölln, one of the 12 districts (Ger. Bezirke) of Berlin, is located in the southern side of the city center. Until the year 1920 the district was an independent city and even carried a separate name, Rixdorf, until the year 1912. Nowadays Neukölln is a melting pot of cultures, and especially the Turkish population of Berlin has found its way to this active district. In the middle of all the hubs, approximately a 10-minute walk away from the subway station Hermannstraße, a huge complex of abandoned buildings emerges when you least expect it. It is an abandoned children’s hospital and previously also Germany’s biggest gynaecology hospital for women, births and newborn babies.

Women's hospital entrance

The buildings with ramshackle roofs and broken windows are probably not the most inviting sight, but if you dare to climb over the surrounding fence, it’s definitely worth it. The hospital was built between 1914 and 1918 when the World War I was causing destruction all over the world. The hospital suffered some serious damages in the Second World War but has been later on rebuilt and expanded in a few different occasions. On its glory days, the hospital helped more than 3,000 babies a year to see the first sunbeams of their beginning lives. However, nowadays you can find neither crying babies nor new mothers holding their miracles in their hands while shedding tears of happiness, because the hospital was closed in 2005. If your imagination is wild enough, though, you can maybe find ghosts or hear cracking noises of the crumbling basis. The eerie buildings are full of run-down empty rooms swallowed by the Mother Nature. Also, many graffiti artists have found their ways into the never-ending labyrinths of the complex, and the walls are often decorated with stylish paintings. Exploring the hospital’s dark corridors really asks for some guts and towards evening the atmosphere gets even more intense and spooky. The hospital is quite easy to access, although many stapled windows and staring passers-by may make it challenging to go in. Do you dare to visit this place by yourself?

Women's hospital                    Inside of women's hospital

If you are still in the mood of seeing more abandoned places, you should head towards the Johannisthal Airfield. And no, now I’m not talking about the Tempelhof Airport, which is another abandoned airport located in the borough of Tempelhof-Schöneberg. I am talking about the world’s second oldest airfield, which is located in the southeast of Berlin. The airport was opened 107 years ago in 1909. At that time, flying was in infancy and people gathered here to see how different kinds of “airplanes” were flying through the skies. Danger and frequent crashes probably intrigued the viewers even more. The many buildings could fit thousands of spectators and included also garages and facilities for repairing planes and offering flying lessons, for instance. The airport was later on used for military purposes by the Germans and later by the Russians, too. After that, the airport area and some of the buildings have been used by companies for some other purposes, and for example a German company VEB Kühlautomat Berlin was producing refrigerators there. In 1995, the airfield area was shut down for good and nowadays you can see only the ruins of this complex that used to be full of life back in the day. The airfield is easy to enter and the odds that you would bump into guards are low. There is plenty to discover, don’t hesitate to visit it!

 

If you are still hungry for some places where you can feel the the zeitgeist of old days, the last stop of the journey is going to be an old amusement park, Spreepark, in Plänterwald. The park is located next to the Spree River, which explains its name, too. It was opened in 1969 to celebrate the 20th birthday of the German Democratic Republic (GDR). The park turned out really popular and more than a million people enjoyed the rides every year. One of the absolute highlights is the Ferris wheel, which rises up to about 40 meters. After the reunification of Germany, the Spreepark was sold to an investor, who tried to bring the park back to its blossoming days. It worked for some time and in the beginning of nineties the park still attracted more than a million visitors a year but the numbers started decreasing towards the end of the decade. In 2002, the park was closed for good. On a windy day, you can hear how the rusty Ferris wheel moves and cries after the golden days of the past. Many old roller-coasters can be found in the exactly same positions they were left in years ago. Getting into the park is relatively easy, but on the other hand a confrontation with a guard is quite likely. Whether you are curious enough and want to take the chance, it’s up to you!

Spreepark                    Spreepark RC

There are of course many more spectacular abandoned places worth mentioning in Berlin, but I will leave these gems for you to discover. I hope you have enjoyed the ride through some of the most interesting abandoned places of the historic city of Berlin.

 

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