Berlin is the city that never ceases to amaze me. Every time I go, it seems there is something new and interesting to explore in what I argue is Europe’s most interesting city. On the most recent trip, having wanted to go a number of times, I got to explore some of the old and abandoned buildings of Berlin. Special thanks to Kolja and Philipp for taking time out of their day to visit some abandoned buildings with me.
Welcome to Blub
“No rats” (rather fittingly) declares a piece of graffiti on the walls of this former Neukölln paradise. Opened in 1985, at a cost of 44 million Deutsche Mark no expense was spared in the construction of Berliner Luft– und Badeparadies more commonly known as Blub. Consisting of swimming pools, whirlpools, a wave machine, waterslides, sauna garden and gym Blub truly was a small glimpse of paradise in East Berlin. Blub started strong as the official sponsors of Berlin football club Hertha BSC in the 1985/1986 season which helped it gain an initial 600,000 annual visitors in its first few years.
As time went on, Blub became riddled with problems, causing it to be closed by Berlin City Health Officials, with immediate effect at 15:30 on Monday 9 December 2002. Reasons for the closure included an acute rat infestation from the nearby Teltow Canal which brought with it rats in to the swimming pools, rat faeces in the children’s pool and bird droppings in the canteen. Though the complex opened a week later, the damage had been done and it was something from which Blub never really recovered. Coupled with gang trouble, visitor numbers more than halved and Blub saw its inevitable closure on the 1st February 2005. The sauna area remained open until the 30th April 2012 under the name of “Al Andalus”.
Wandering around Blub
Having done some research in to Blub beforehand, I didn’t quite appreciate just how big it was until I got there. The great thing about Blub is that it very much retains a lot of its character as a place of fun first and foremost. A lot of the original features remain (though the slides have been dismantled for safety reasons) making it easy to imagine just what Blub looked like when it was open. Even the gym is relatively intact should you wish to do some abandoned building exercise. Wandering around the complex one can’t help but wonder whether Blub abandoned with very little notice. You don’t have to look far to find payslips of the old employees, record books of visitors and photos of the complex. Another cool thing about Blub was seeing the machinery which powered the complex. How many of you can say you have seen behind the scenes at a swimming pool?
Where: Buschkrugallee 64, 12359 Berlin
Getting there: U-Bahnhof Grenzallee on the U7 or S+U Neukölln both of which are a short walk away.
Watch out for: Unstable features, broken glass, holes and homeless people.
Take with you: Good shoes (there is quite a bit of broken glass lying around) and a torch to explore some of the darker lower floors.
For more information on Berlin’s abandoned buildings check out the amazing website Abandoned Berlin.