Skating people, kids playing with small cars, people trying to stay fit by running fast. Kites slowly flying through Berlin’s sky. Tempelhofer Freiheit seems like an ordinary Berlin park. But it’s not. In 2008 airplanes were still landing and taking of from this park. But now grass grows on the runways of Tempelhofer Freiheit and it’s the perfect urban spot to relax.
Tempelhof: one of the biggest airports of Europe in 1930
In 1930 airport Tempelhof was one of the biggest airports of Europe. It was even bigger than the airports in Paris, London and Amsterdam. But big wasn’t big enough for the Nazi’s. Hitler wanted the ‘new’ Tempelhof to be the gateway to Europe and it’s capital Germania, as he renamed Berlin. If you are walking or skating on Tempelhofer Freiheit, it’s not hard to imagine people gaping at the large airport building in 1936. The large, long, straight columns were made to impress people.
Luftbrucke at Tempelhof in the cold war
After World War Two the people of Berlin were pretty ashamed of the nazi architecture of airport Tempelhof. But that didn’t mean Tempelhof lost its function. On the contrary. It became very important during the cold war. The people in West Berlin got their food by air when the Russians blocked the city. And those airplanes landed at Tempelhof. Berliners call this the Luftbrucke: literally: the air bridge. The memorial near Tempelhofer Freiheit remembers the people of this period. They nicknamed it the Hungerharke: the Hunger Rake.
End of airport Tempelhof
When the Berlin Wall fell, airplanes continued to fly to airport Tempelhof. But when the nazi’s build the airport, it was meant to exist without a scratch until the year 2000. Other airports in Berlin became big as well. And it might have been convenient for passengers flying to Berlin Tempelhof was so close to the city centre, the people living in district Tempelhof were not so pleased with the noise and smell of large commercial airplanes taking of and landing on their doorstep.
For a long time, Berlin didn’t know what to do with good old Tempelhof. They let the people of Berlin vote as well, and the outcome was the closure of airport Tempelhof. Than new problems started. It’s pretty hard to find a new destination for an old airport and huge concrete runways. In 2010 the gates opened again. Not to fly airplanes anymore, but to fly kites. It became a huge city park that’s ideal for skating, biking and running. And that’s exactly what Berliners do here. You can rent a bike here, or a segway. Not a bad idea, since the place is huge. Tempelhofer Freiheit is not only the perfect runway for kiting, skating and jogging, they also throw great parties at the former hangars. Check out their website for opening hours, tours and events!