On the outskirts of Berlin in the heart of the Treptow district, lies the remnants of what was once the only amusement park in the former German Democratic Republic (Deutsche Demokratische Republik, or East Germany). Built amidst a forested area known as the Plänterwald along the banks of the river Spree, the park was opened in 1969 as "Kulturpark".
On the outskirts of Berlin in the heart of the Treptow district, lies the remnants of what was once the only amusement park in the former German Democratic Republic (Deutsche Demokratische Republik, or East Germany). Built amidst a forested area known as the Plänterwald along the banks of the river Spree, the park was opened in 1969 as “Kulturpark”.
During it’s heyday in the DDR the park attracted nearly two million visitors per year. However, after the reunification of Germany in 1991, the park, now known as Spreepark, started down the path of a long, dark decline. The concept of the park was changed to more closely resemble Western amusement parks. However, it seemed that people did not like the non-DDR version of Spreepark as much as the original, and by 2001 only 400,000 people per year visited the park and it’s debts eventually forced it into insolvency.
The park officially closed in 2002, and has since become a destination for urban explorers from all over the world. The huge 45 meter tall Ferris Wheel still stands above the remnants of the park, towering over a seemingly random assortment of overturned fiberglass dinosaur statues, lying about on their sides like outtakes from some low budget knock-off of “Jurassic Park”. The remainder of the rides that are still present in the park are little by little being overtaken by the Plänterwald and in some areas the forest has totally regained control.
Getting to Spreepark incredibly easy. From the Berlin city center, just take the S-Bahn (S8, direction Zeuthen, or S9 direction Flughafen Schönefeld) to the Plänterwald station, which is just one stop past Treptower Park. In fact, you an see the Ferris Wheel from the Treptower Park S-Bahn station. Spreepark is about a 15 minute walk from the Plänterwald S-Bahn station.
Once you arrive at the park, you may be disappointed to find there is no way inside unless you climb over the huge fence or find a whole in it. I walked all the way around the park and couldn’t find a way in, but I know people have found their way inside. Be forewarned! As of August 2007, it looked like someone, perhaps a caretaker, was actually living inside the park. There are many signs marking it as private property, so if you choose to go inside keep in mind that you will be trespassing. That being said, it goes without saying that the best photos will be taken from inside the fence. I was able to get some good shots, but would have loved to explore around inside.
Here are some Spreepark related links:
The official park website, still online – http://www.spreepark.de
Website for a German film about Kulturpark and the sordid history of Spreepark after 1991 -http://www.kulturpark.net
A site (in German) with some great pics inside the fences – http://www.fladeparade.de/berlin_spreepark1.html
A Spreepark group on Flickr -http://flickr.com/groups/402216@N20/