There are only a few airports in the world that can compete with old Berlin Tempelhof when it comes to writing history. Built on grounds once belonging to the Knights Templar, paraded on by thousands of proud Prussian forces and being the key link to otherwise starving people when West Berlin was walled in by the Soviet Union in the past century.
Tempelhof Field – as it is known now – lays silent of airplane engines since November 2008, when the final three aircraft left. Officially a city park since 2014 about 75 to 80 percent of the former airfield is place where endangered birds find their home, as well other living creatures much smaller then humans or their flying machines are.
Despite its dodgy origin, being designed by Nazi architect Albert Speer and Professor Ernst Sagebiel, the 1.2 kilometre long terminal is still considered as one of the biggest inspirations in modern airport building. It still looks fierce today, a living monument of architectonic history. Back in 1927 the airfield was the world’s first with a railway leading to its terminal building.
These days not trains but bicycles are a great choice to reach the Tempelhof gates and go beyond, as the empty tarmac makes it a joy to continue to roll. Being an aircraft lover, speeding up on a smoothly oiled bike it is almost impossible not to scream “V1 Rotate”. Kids’ dreams to be a pilot reaching “take-off velocity” come back to live when fast paddling over the runway, the wind blowing around your ears.
Coming to a halt at the end of one of the runways, you find yourself facing cute gardening lots, Berlin inhabitants walking their dogs, kids playing soccer and people strolling along. Peace on the corner stone of World and Cold War history, who could have ever dreamed of that. |
This story was originally published through Made By Magmar, a joint project of journalist/photographer Marcel Burger and engineer/editor/photographer Magdalena Pezdek, on 24 April 2018.