Berlin Tempelhof is a former airport with a remarkable history. Built between 1936 and 1941 as part of Albert Speer‘s plan for the reconstruction of Berlin, Ernst Sagebiel‘s main terminal building has been described as the mother of all airports, introducing a lot of airport innovations.
Cycling up and down the famous Cold War Berlin Airlift runway, the watching eye of the Fernsehturm over the horizon in former communist East Berlin commemorates a time when hostilities between east and west were an everyday reality.
Tempelhof Berlin was one of the few access points to the capitalist enclave. On the busiest days an airplane would land on Tempelhof every ninety seconds. If one of them for some reason did not make it to its designated landing slot, it had to turn around and fly back because there would not be another opportunity to land before fuel ran out.
In the second world war the airfield was (purposely?) spared, although a bomb – planted, not dropped – and a following fire damaged much of the entrance hall. A concrete ceiling was installed on first floor level to provide safety from falling debris, but other than that this hall remains unrestored.
After earlier visits to the Berlin Tempelhof city park, this time we booked a guided tour through the former airport buildings. Starting in the departures hall, descending to the apron under the canopy, going by the hangars and back inside through the luggage unloading area down two floors into the sublevel courtyard and back up through the underground tunnel.