Exploring Berlin’s Forgotten Swimming Pools
As the sun rises over Berlin, casting its golden light on the graffiti-covered walls and abandoned buildings that dot this eclectic city, there’s an air of excitement brewing. It’s the perfect day to embark on a journey through the forgotten swimming pools of this ever-evolving metropolis. So, put on your best vintage bathing suit, grab your thickest-rimmed glasses, and hold onto your organic, fair-trade coffee, because we’re about to dive into the deep end of Berlin’s fascinating history.
Our first stop on this pool-hopping adventure is the legendary Blub (short for Berliner Luft- und Badeparadies), a once-thriving water park nestled in the heart of Neukölln. Opened in 1985, Blub was an oasis in the city, boasting a wave pool, water slides, and even a sauna area for those who prefer to sweat it out in style. But alas, the pool’s glory days were short-lived, and it closed its doors in 2005, leaving behind a skeleton of its former self. Today, Blub lies in ruins, its once-pristine waters transformed into a murky swamp, and its walls adorned with the vibrant artwork of local street artists. For urban explorers and fans of decaying beauty, Blub is a must-visit destination. Just remember to bring your waterproof camera – you wouldn’t want to miss capturing the eerie majesty of this forgotten aquatic paradise.
As we dry off from our Blub escapades, we make our way to the heart of Kreuzberg, where we’ll find the Stadtbad Oderberger. This pool turned hipster haven, built in 1902, was once a place where locals could cleanse themselves in the communal showers and take a dip in the 20-meter pool. But as fate would have it, Stadtbad Oderberger temporarily closed in 1986 due to structural damage. Fear not, dear reader, for this story has a happy ending! After years of renovations, Stadtbad Oderberger reopened in 2016 as a hotel, restaurant, and event space, with the pool still very much intact. Swim a lap or two in this historical gem, and then treat yourself to a craft cocktail in the chic adjoining bar. It’s the perfect marriage of old-world charm and new-age flair.
Feeling peckish after your swim? Let’s take a detour to one of Berlin’s many delicious vegan eateries because, let’s face it, you’re not really a hipster if you haven’t tried a meatless currywurst. Once we’ve fueled up, we’ll continue our journey to the east, where we’ll find the Spreepark Plänterwald. This abandoned amusement park may not be home to a swimming pool per se, but rumor has it that there once was a water ride that could rival any modern-day water park. While the park’s heyday was in the 1980s and 1990s, a series of unfortunate events (including the arrest of the owner on charges of smuggling cocaine in the park’s rides – talk about a wild ride!) led to its closure in 2002. Today, Spreepark Plänterwald is a hauntingly beautiful reminder of the transience of human-made structures. Wander through the overgrown foliage and marvel at the rusted Ferris wheel, but be sure to keep an eye out for the park’s security – they’re not too keen on trespassers.
Our next stop on this pool-tastic tour takes us to the edge of the city, where we’ll find the abandoned Wernerbad. Once a popular spot for families looking to cool off during the sweltering Berlin summers, the Wernerbad closed its doors in 2002 due to financial woes. Today, the pool lies in disrepair, a symbol of the fleeting nature of human enjoyment. While you may not be able to take a dip in the algae-covered waters, the Wernerbad is worth a visit for its eerie beauty and the stories it holds within its crumbling walls. Who knows – you might even spot a ghostly swimmer or two.
As the sun begins to set on our pool-hopping adventure, there’s one final stop we simply cannot miss. The Badeschiff, an iconic floating pool on the Spree River, is the perfect place to unwind after a long day of exploring. Sip a cold Berliner Pilsner as you float in the refreshing waters, surrounded by the captivating skyline of this city that never ceases to amaze. The Badeschiff may not be forgotten, but it’s certainly a testament to Berlin’s ever-changing landscape and the enduring appeal of a good, old-fashioned swim.
And there you have it, dear readers – a journey through the forgotten swimming pools of Berlin, a city that continues to reinvent itself while holding onto the memories of its past. As you towel off and prepare to return to the real world, take a moment to appreciate the beauty in the decay, the stories that lie beneath the surface, and the friendships forged over a shared love of urban exploration and vegan currywurst. For in Berlin, the forgotten is never truly lost, and the water is always just right for a swim.
Q: What is the history behind Berlin’s forgotten swimming pools?
A: Berlin’s forgotten swimming pools have a rich and intriguing history dating back to the early 20th century. During this time, public baths and swimming pools were constructed to promote physical wellness and hygiene among the city’s rapidly growing population. Many of these pools were architecturally stunning, featuring Art Nouveau and Bauhaus designs that showcased the progressive spirit of the era. However, as the city underwent significant changes throughout the years – including World War II, the division of East and West Berlin, and eventual reunification – some of these once-thriving swimming pools fell into disrepair and were ultimately abandoned. Today, these forgotten pools serve as fascinating relics of the past, providing a unique glimpse into the city’s ever-evolving social and cultural landscape.
Q: Where can I find these forgotten swimming pools in Berlin?
A: There are several forgotten swimming pools scattered throughout the city, each with its own unique story and atmosphere. Some notable examples include:
1. Stadtbad Lichtenberg: Located in the district of Lichtenberg, this early 20th-century swimming pool was once a bustling hub of activity, with its impressive Art Nouveau architecture and spacious pool area. However, it closed its doors in 1991 and has remained empty ever since. Today, the building is occasionally used for art exhibitions and events.
2. Blub Badeparadies: This former water park in the Neukölln district was a popular destination for families during the 1980s and 1990s. After closing in 2005 due to financial difficulties, the site was left to deteriorate, and its colorful slides and pools are now overtaken by nature.
3. Stadtbad Oderberger: Situated in the trendy Prenzlauer Berg neighborhood, this historic swimming pool was closed in 1986 due to structural issues. In 2016, it was meticulously restored and converted into a hotel and event space, allowing visitors to once again appreciate its beautiful neo-Renaissance architecture.
Q: Are these forgotten swimming pools safe to visit?
A: While some of the forgotten swimming pools in Berlin have been repurposed or restored, others remain in a state of decay and may not be safe for casual exploration. It’s essential to exercise caution and respect when visiting these sites, as many of them are on private property or in structurally compromised conditions. If you’re interested in exploring these forgotten pools, consider joining a guided tour or attending an event hosted at one of the repurposed locations to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.
Q: How can I learn more about the history and stories of these forgotten swimming pools?
A: There are several ways to delve deeper into the fascinating stories of Berlin’s forgotten swimming pools:
1. Books and documentaries: Numerous publications and films have been produced on this topic, providing extensive information about the history, architecture, and cultural significance of these pools.
2. Guided tours: Local tour companies and knowledgeable guides can offer expert insight into these forgotten spaces, sharing anecdotes and little-known facts about their past.
3. Online resources: Websites and blogs dedicated to urban exploration and Berlin’s history can provide valuable information and captivating images of these abandoned swimming pools.
4. Local archives and museums: Berlin’s city archives and historical museums may have collections of photographs, documents, and other materials related to the city’s forgotten swimming pools.
5. Community events and art exhibitions: Keep an eye out for events and exhibitions that take place in or around these forgotten spaces, as they often provide opportunities to learn more about their history and significance.