Berlin Tempelhof Airport was formerly the main airport of Berlin. It played a pivotal role in the Berlin airlift of 1948-1949 where it literally became the lifeline of West Berlin. With the last commercial flight from Tempelhof on the 30th October 2008, the airport grounds have since become a park for Berliners whilst the mysterious building opens its doors a few times a week for the public to have a rare glimpse behind the scenes.
Unfriendly looking Tempelhof
Approaching the building and the first thing you can’t help but notice is just how unwelcoming the building actually looks. A feat of Nazi architecture, Tempelhof was completed in 1941 and has had a tumultuous history having been opened and closed at various points since 1941 as German History unfolded. The building itself was designed as somewhat of a show piece serving as the gateway to what was to be Hitler’s world capital – Germania. The grandness is noted in the size of the building, still regarded as one of the largest in the world and also the shape which resembles an eagle in flight denoting strength and courage. The sloped roof of Tempelhof was originally planned to hold spectators watching airshows at the grand airport. On the 2nd July 1945, at the end of World War Two, the building was handed over to the US Army and later opened up for commercial use.
It’s not often you get to visit an abandoned airport, when you do there is definitely something surreal and somewhat creepy about the whole experience. You can’t help but wonder about everything that once happened there, and it’s not long before you start to imagine what things would have looked like when the airport was fully functional.
Our tour began in the former check-in hall at Berlin Tempelhof. With its 70s architecture there is something definitely imposing yet grand about the check-in hall. The tour then continued on level two where we visited the former airport restaurant nicknamed “Air Base” by the American military personnel stationed in Berlin. The restaurant offers visitors stunning a panoramic view of the former complex.
With over 9,000 rooms the tour continued visiting a selection of the buildings inside Tempelhof. Highlights of the tour included going on the tarmac where planes were once parked, visiting the on-site basketball court and peeking inside the incomplete hallways of Tempelhof.
Beneath the airport lies Tempelhof’s most interesting feature- a railway track that runs parallel to the terminal building. During World War Two, the Nazi’s built below the airport with the railway tracks used to transport material for the construction process. During the war, the Nazi party built two large water storage tanks and a power plant so as not to rely on the city of Berlin’s infrastructure.
All in all the tour provides an interesting afternoon in Berlin and is definitely worth a visit if you have the time.
For information on the tours at Tempelhof airport please click here.