My first time in Berlin dates from May 2015. Until September 2021 it was my only time. I know it’s odd. The capital of Germany is a centre of history, culture, clubbing, gay culture. It should have been a standard annual getaway. Berlin is a modern, quirky city with a reputation for being hip and trendy. I took time to look back on this first visit – with Frank – in 2015.
Tempelhof. Most certainly one of the better known names associated with Berlin. And also an iconic airport name. Airport, refugee camp, home of the Formula E Berlin ePrix.
Berlin Tempelhof Airport (Flughafen Berlin-Tempelhof) (IATA: THF, ICAO: EDDI) is situated in the south-central Berlin borough of Tempelhof-Schönebergh. The airport ceased operating in 2008 amid controversy, leaving Tegel and Schönefeld as the two main airports serving the city until Berlin Brandenburg Airport opened on 31 October 2020 with Schönefeld being incorporated into Berlin Brandenburg. Tegel closed on 8 November 2020.
Tempelhof was designated as an airport in 1923. The old terminal was originally constructed in 1927. In anticipation of increasing air traffic, the NS government began an enormous reconstruction in the mid-1930s. While it was occasionally cited as the world’s oldest operating commercial airport, the title was disputed by several other airports, and is no longer an issue since its closure.
It acquired a further iconic status as the centre of the Berlin Airlift of 1948-1949. One of the airport’s most distinctive features is its huge, canopy-style roof extending over the apron, able to accommodate most contemporary airliners in the 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s, protecting passengers from the elements. Tempelhof Airport’s main building was once among the twenty largest buildings on earth, but it also formerly contained the world’s smallest duty-free shop.
Tempelhof Airport closed all operations on 30 October 2008, despite the efforts of some protesters to prevent the closure.
A non-binding referendum was held on 27 April 2008 against the impending closure but failed due to low voter turnout. The former airfield has subsequently been used as a recreational space known as Tempelhofer Feld.
In September 2015 it was announced that Tempelhof would also become an emergency refugee camp. Now it’s also home of the Tempelhof Airport Street Circuit.
Tempelhof is an icon for its history and architecture. Yes, it’s associated with dark periods of history. The Third Reich, the Cold War. But’s is also a cult place, featuring in ‘Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade‘. Some scenes from one of ‘The Hunger Games‘ films were filmed there.
Tempelhof could (and still can?) be toured. Unfortunately there was a unction in the main hall, so we couldn’t see that.
Its large halls, empty corridors, remnants of US military presence and former bomb shelters with historic graffiti make the tour worthwhile. Walking on the apron is very special. As I can’t cycle, visiting the park is not really feasible.
I remember the tour being interesting and knowledgeable. It’s really special. It makes you dream of the possibilities.
Potsdam & Berlin 2015
- BERLIN 2015 | Potsdam.
- BERLIN 2015 | Museum and memorials.
- BERLIN 2015 | Ostalgie.
- BERLIN 2015 | The Reichstag, the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church and Berlin Cathedral.
- BERLIN 2015 | Schloss Charlottenburg Palace.
- BERLIN 2015 | Olympiastadion.