Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Komm Mit Mir Fliegen (or Come Fly With Me)

From lush, green Irish countryside to gritty, urban Berlin... 

Immediately after getting back from Ireland the other week, my mum and I turned around and hopped on a flight to Germany for more adventures. And, as if we hadn't seen enough airports already, we headed down to Tempelhofer Freiheit. But this is a bit different to your average airport. Tempelhof operated as one of Berlin's airports between the 1920s and 2008, but is now being reclaimed as a public park.

Tempelhof Airport has rather a mixed and dramatic history. It was an official airfield from the 1920s but the original buildings could not meet capacity and the airport was redeveloped under the direction of the Nazis from the late 1930s. In true Nazi style, it was built to awe and impress, forming part of Hitler's megalomaniacal visions for Germania... In fact, it remains one of the largest buildings in the world today, based on sheer volume.

The original airport building (Image source)

Under the canopy of the 1930s building (Image source)

Another view of the 1930s building (Image source)

Unfortunately, I do have to confess to rather liking the look of it as a building, despite its nasty associations and origins. Thankfully, the history of Tempelhof was somewhat redeemed by its part in the Berlin Airlift, post World War II, when Allied forces flew in much needed supplies to the people of West Berlin when the Soviets had blockaded the city.

It later reopened as a commercial airport but was eventually closed less than a decade ago.

1949 West Berlin stamp (Image source)

Though I must say I'm disappointed never to have flown into Tempelhof as a visitor to Berlin, it is great to see that the site had found such a positive new use, as a public park. I was disappointed to be literally fenced off from the airport building itself on our visit there, but I guess I'll just have to return to Berlin on a weekend next time, when they conduct tours of the interior of the building.

In the surrounding park, the runways remain, as generous paths for walkers, cyclists and skaters.

Away from these concrete strips, you can also enjoy a more shaded, leafy and wild park experience: 

Mama tripping through the flowers 

Me lying amongst the flowers
Shirt: Rokit, London
Culottes: Beyond Retro, London
Shoes: Somewhere in Leipzig, Germany

There's also some wonderful community gardens and art spaces to explore in the park:

It was rather a lovely, relaxing and fascinating place to visit and I'm glad we took the time to stop off and explore it, during our packed-full, busy few days in Berlin. You can read more about the site's history and future plans for the park and see more historic pictures here, if this post has piqued your interest.


  1. Wow, great post and location. It's been far too long since I last went to Berlin

    1. Thanks, Lucy! It'd been four years since I went to Berlin and three years since Germany - far too long for me too! And it showed in my very rusty German!

  2. For sure a great post. Your concise and informative history plus your honest responses and your photos give a lovely feel of the atmosphere and variety. Definitely a remarkable and interesting place. Also interesting to compare the photos of the original building. Funny observation about visiting yet another airport too. Thank you for bringing it to our attention. I do hope that you get to visit the interior of the building in the near future and I look forward to the post that will come from that visit.

    1. Thank you! It's always a challenge summarising the history of a place so that it doesn't go on too long but also doesn't lose too much through brevity... I will be sure to post again about the interiors when I make it back there one day.