The Tempelhof Airport in Berlin used to be the largest and grandest airport in the country. Today, the airport is closed, but the grounds have been turned into one of the most interesting and exciting parks in Berlin. Come to visit, fly kites in the grassy fields, watch skateboarders and boxcarts race down the old runways, or take tours of the once-glorious airport halls.
Biking at the former Tempelhof Airport. Image Juska Wendland via Flickr
Tempelhof has a pretty wild history. Originally a parade ground for the Prussian army, the airplane pioneer Orville Wright was the first pilot to take off from Tempelhof Field. In the 1920s, zeppelins were flying out of Tempelhof, and soon afterwards the first commercial flights started. Hitler took particular interest in the site, intending to build a massive ‘world airport’ in his city, and the architecture of the Nazi-era building attests to his illusions of grandeur. In the post-war years, the famous American ‘Candy Bombers’ dropped food parachutes to children waiting eagerly around Tempelhof. The airport kept running, but soon became outdated, with more and more air traffic moving to Tegel Airport. The airport was closed in 2008, and the city decided to turn the grounds into a park. Tours of the former buildings are available daily.
The large park in the middle of the city attract visitors curious about the site’s history, and locals looking for a relaxing and fun day out. There are a number of tours of the site: these tend to involve a lot of walking and no toilet breaks, but are full of information on Nazi history. The airport buildings are intact, including numerous underground chambers, and even have statues and carvings of the Nazi eagles – a symbol that has been wiped out in most other places in Berlin.
Today, the Tempelhof Feld park is used for festivals, activities, barbecues, music events, breakdancing and art exhibitions. There are small minigolf fields and a unicycle training school on the site. One of the most popular activities in Tempelhof is kite-flying. You can find all kinds of kites up in the air over the former airport: ultra-modern fancy kites, as well as home-made variations. You’ll also see kites attached to skateboards, to carts and to rollerblades.
Visiting Tempelhof Airport Park
Entrance is free of charge
Tempelhof is open from sunrise to sunset: you can find exact times on their website.
There are official tours in English every Saturday at 3pm and Sunday at 2pm, and you can get discounts if you have a student card or a Berlin Welcome card. Several tour companies also offer tours of the airport building and grounds.
Tours of the former buildings of Tempelhof Airport, which also include a journey through their interesting history, are available daily and cost 12 Euro per person. More information
Take the U-Bahn to Platz der Luftbrucke to get to the old airport terminal, or to Tempelhof station to get to the southern side of the park.