Tempelhof Airport

Posted: February 3, 2012 in Germany
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Once Hitler’s favourite airport, Berlin’s Tempelhof was closed in September 2008. Berlin is not a particularly big city, and it really didn’t need three airports, so plans were made to redirect all air traffic from there and Tegel to Schönefeld. The last time I saw Tempelhof, I was flying in to it, so it was quite a shock to return a few years later and find it had been permanently closed for business. Peering through the windows, you can see trollies still lined up inside, waiting for people to load their suitcases on to them. A single plane waits outside the back gates, now simply an exhibit to visit on tours of the ex-airport.

The runway areas have been turned into a massive public park, and cyclists, rollerbladers and joggers now use them for exercise, passing signs that directed taxiing planes to their proper gates. The park measures some 950 acres in size, and it’s difficult to get a sense of the scale from photographs. It’s about three times the size of London’s Hyde Park, or close in size to New York’s Central Park.

Grün Berlin, which runs Tempelhofer Feld, as the former airport space is now known, and several other unusual park spaces in the city, will be spending some €60 million developing it in the next five years. I’m not quite sure what they’re intending to spend all that money on, as it’s pretty fantastic as it is. There’s a BBQ area, a dog walking field, a picnic area and a six kilometre jogging/skating/rollerblading/space hopping trail. It’s open every day from sunrise to sunset.

In a way, things are just returning to the way they used to be. Before Tempelhof Airport was built on the site, Tempelhofer Park was a parade ground, and families would bring picnics to eat once all the marching and shouting had stopped.

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