Spreepark – Almost Forgotten Berlin

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An abandones rollercoaster in shape of a dragon in all the colours of rainbow with an open mouth and scary teeth

In Berlin, you can find numerous historic sites and relicts of its turbulent history, that have fascinating stories to tell. One of those places is the Spreepark in Plänterwald, an amusement park, which is abandoned today. But nevertheless, there are still old rides, houses and other equipment to be seen, that are slowly reclaimed by nature.

Entertainment for the people of East Berlin and Beyond

The Spreepark was formerly known as Kulturpark Plänterwald Berlin and used to be the only amusement park of the German Democratic Republic. The park is located close to the river Spree in the northern part of Plänterwald in Berlin. Every year since 1969, thousands of people came to the park for escaping day-to-day life. Besides attractions which you can find on most fun fairs around the world, the main attraction was the giant Ferris wheel. It is 45 meters high, and until 2001 you could take a ride in one of its 36 passenger cars. The Spreepark also was used as the set to the popular GDRchildren series „Spuk unterm Riesenrad“ („Haunting under the Ferris Wheel“), which made the park even more popular.

Turbulent times after the Cold War

In 1992 a new owner took over the amusement park and started to add new attractions to keep the park interesting. Spreewald had always been popular among the people of East Berlin and the GDR, but after the fall of the Berlin Wall the number of visitors declined. In 2001, the owners decided to close the park and to leave Berlin for a new start in Peru (which ended in bankruptcy, drug smuggling, and destroyed lifes – but that is another story). In the beginning of the 1990ies the area was declared a nature preserve making hard to remodel or expand the park and the necessary infrastructures such as parking spaces, etc. That is why also other interested investors shied away from carrying on their plans for Spreepark. That is why, since 2002, the park is abandoned.

Plans for the future

Today, there are only a few signs left of the fun that people used to have in the park. The giant ferris wheel, for example, is still there. If you take a boat ride on the river Spree, it is possible you pass by the park and hear the ferris wheel squeaking in the wind – a very eerie sound. However, the place is not supposed to remain a relict of the past for long. Currently there are plans to develop the area and create a park that combines nature, culture and art, and that is accessible to everyone. The concept is currently refined and interested people have the possibility to get involved in the process of shaping the future of Spreewald. Even though most of the remaining structures are instable and are in danger of collapsing, it is still possible to visit the park on guided tours.

Tip: If you are interested in visiting the park and like to take photos, you should check out the website of Grün Berlin (www.gruen-berlin.de). They regularly offer tours and if you are lucky, they may also offer a tour specifically for photographers so you’ll have plenty of time to get creative with your camera!

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