Berlin :: Exploring Spreepark, East Germany’s abandoned amusement park

We’d been in Berlin for just over 12 hours and had experienced it through the eyes of a local, now it was time to revert to tourist mode. Spreepark, an East German amusement park, was next on our list. Hopping off the S-Bahn one stop past Treptower Park, we walked through a sea of autumn leaves until we arrived at what once was the GDR’s idea of fun for all the family.

First known as the Kulturpark Plänterwald, it opened in 1969 and was host to 1.7 million visitors a year at its peak. Standing in grounds of 29.5 hectares, the abandoned park boasts an iconic 40m Riesenrad (Ferris wheel). It was the only entertainment park in either East or West Berlin. In 1991, it became Spreepark and new attractions were added. Ten years later, falling visitor numbers (amongst other reasons) caused the park to give its last ride.

With tales of security, this was one urban exploration trip we daren’t risk, so we booked ourselves onto the Spreepark tour. 15 Euros earned us 2.5 hours of exploring the park and listening to its tales…in German. With the language barrier we were oblivious, we chose to absorb ourselves in capturing the park through the eye of the lens. John with his SLR and me with my brand new DianaF+ camera, complete with instant back.

To say it was eerie would be an understatement. The ferris wheel moving in the wind, squealing into the stagnant air, the algae covered log flume hiding its last splash and the dinosaurs which lay abandoned, their bite long since lost. 

Over ten years of being open to the elements and the abuse of spray paint revelers had turned this park into a relic, a shadow of its former self. Interesting to see, but entwined with an inexplicable sadness. A long lost era, a lost culture, a last reminded of a former country which no longer exists. 

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