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An Afternoon at Tempelhof Airport

The former Tempelhof Airport nowadays, is one of the most amazing public parks in Berlin. Its history is full of feats and achievements which make it one of the essential stops in the city.

Photo by vgzalez

The first flights over Tempelhof took place in 1909. Nevertheless, the facilities were not considered an actual airport until 1923. In 1927, the original passengers’ terminal began to operate. A huge enlargement in the ’30s made it the largest building in the world for years, until the construction of the Pentagon.

On 20 June, 1948, the Soviet Union blocked the West sector of Berlin, making an air corridor the only way to provide the west-Berliners with the more than 4,500 tons of supplies they needed daily. Six days later, the Berlin Airlift began to work. The Allies constructed two new runaways that allowed a frantic landing pace of one aircraft per minute. Flying until the end of the blockade on 30 September 1949, the Berlin Airlift is considered one of the greatest aviation feats and a monument reminds this in the Platz der Luftbrücke, just in front of the passengers’ terminal.

Photo by vgzalez

Since the mid-forties and until its closing, many commercial airlines (Lufthansa, British Airways, Pan Am or Air France among them) operated in Tempelhof. Until 1994, the airport was also the air base of the U.S. Army in Berlin.

In 2007, a final decision on closing the airport was made by the Federal Administrative Court of Germany. The resolution was the consequence of a process which begun in 1996, when local, regional, and federal authorities decided to unify all the Berlin-Brandenburg air traffic in the Berlin-Schönefeld International Airport. A non-bonding referendum held in 2008 was not enough to keep the airport working, although a majority of the people voted so. The airport was officially closed on 30 October 2008.

Photo by vgzalez

Since May 2010, the former runaways and grass areas of the airport are open as a public park, thus constituting a huge open space of more than 120 hectares in the heart of Berlin. Different uses are being studied for the passengers’ terminal, although its future does not seem to be clear at the moment.

If you have the chance to go there, let yourself get impressed by the intense feeling of vast, open, never-ending space surrounding you. It’s a singular kind of freedom that bikers, skaters, kite riders, and joggers know to take advantage of. During the summer and spring, it is also a peaceful place to read a book, chill out with friends or listen to any of the musicians that you can easily find playing around there.

This is another one of my personal recommendations of places to visit in Berlin. Surely, you will not get disappointed.

Photo by vgzalez

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written by vgzalez

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This is the original article written in: English. It is also available in: Spanish & Nederlands.