If there’s one thing about Berlin that never changes, it’s that Berlin is constantly changing. It’s not just the galleries and party venues and restaurants that change, but also the urban landscape. With the closing of Tempelhof Airport in late 2008, Berlin gained a massive park space that is unlike any other.
Where else can you bike on old runways? Follow aircraft taxi signs to the right apron? Mini Golf off an old taxiway? Or plant vegetables in an urban garden off the old threshold of Runway 27L? It’s a unique space, and uniquely Berlin.
Tempelhof opened as an airport in the 1920s and thanks to its central location and Berlin’s prominence in Europe, quickly became one of the most important airports in Europe. Perhaps most famously, Tempelhof is known for its central role in the Berlin Airlift.
Now, although much of the infrastructure still stands – including the terminal building, radar tower, signage, runway lighting, and radio beacons – it’s far from an airport. Kites and kite boarders abound, but nothing else flies. Instead, groups can petition to have a “pioneer project”. The “projects” are designed to promote knowledge, future technologies, green power, neighborhood integration, and health. Some projects include urban gardening, a unicycle school, children’s science lab, a mini golf area made from unique aviation-themed recycled parts (my favorite “project”), to name a few of the many.
The future of Tempelhof is as yet evolving. Current plans call for the fringes to be developed primarily as residential space while the center remains a massive park. Still, the longer the entire area can be used as the heart desires, the harder it will become to shrink the green space. One certainty though is that park does close at night, so make sure to enjoy it during the daylight hours!
The park is huge and the runways are long, so it’s ideal to tackle by bike. Actually, just walking the park is daunting. Of course, we recommend you rent a bike from us or join us on our Raw Berlin or E-Bike Tours during which we explore Tempelhof in more detail.