Abandoned Hospital – Mariendorfer Weg

Hospital room with a view

Hospital room with a view

It is Sunday as this is being typed out, it has been a long weekend of hitting a certain well known club, too many drinks and forms of entertainment, a large amount of Vietnamese food and a fair bit of walking. For this set of fair reasons we keep it like Willow, short and sweet.

A very easy to access and perfect for ticking the ‘let’s go to something abandoned’ box when you have visitors kind of option is the Krankenhaus in Neukölln. There is a caravan at the front which houses someone, who I am not sure who they actually are, if they are security then they are a smidgen on the lackadaisical side of security, like the opposite of the guys at Berghain. So in terms of difficulty rating for getting in or being kicked out, it is an F, and that is only because there are some low fences.

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Some info… in short hand of course…..

– Old hospital created by Kaiser Wilhelm II of Prussia, who was incidentally the last German monarch

– Opened during WWI by a Jewish Doc who was chased out of town by those rather odorous gits the Nazis, Hitler put one of his cronies in charge, the ever so creepy Benno Ottow, a man who also sported the menacing Charlie Chaplin tache.

– The hospital was severely damaged during the wars that followed but was mended and built upon again in ’69 and ’78. For a long while it was the biggest baby factory in the country

– Now it is waiting to be demolished and turned into apartments, this area of Berlin is not going to stay relatively unbuilt upon as it is right on the doorstep of Templehofer Feld. At the moment vagabonds and graf artists hang there, you can even find rooms of men smoking shisha from time to time.

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Now what does it look like in there? Well…. usual standard fair, lots of smashed glass and as always the feeling a mass rave should take place here, or a big gay orgy, think big leather bound men, something in the vein of Bruce LaBruce I should coco. Apparently porn has been shot here, we do not know the name of it tho…

The graf is ok in parts, this is mostly outside and around the back where there is some good and colourful stuff, once you get inside it looks like local kids who never had the benefit of seeing Hartbeat with Tony Hart as children and therefore go with a scribble they claim to be a tag.

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Cyprien Gaillard – Nightlife

Sprüth Magers is possibly the fave artistic venue for SF in the whole of Berlin town, there are many others that would be worthy of this shout but today seeing Cyprien Gaillard’s Nightlife, a part of When Nature Runs Riot, basically was the perfect Tuesday tonic.

In a nutshell it is a 3D film shot over the course of two years in Cleveland, Los Angeles and of course Berlin, it is a 3D masterpiece bringing together nature and man made objects being affected by the elements.
I’ll explain it in short because you can read the full detail here, but truly you should just get your honey down there and see it for yourself.
You enter a huge gallery room space, you sit on the floor and put on your 3D glasses, exciting already right…?
On the huge screen you will see a huge swirling figure in greeny-gold-bronze oscillating seductively in front of you, but also jumping out of the screen thanks to the wonders of 3D. This is set to the most hypnotic and cool vibey reggae tune, apparently a mix of two tracks played together on a 9 second loop. One of these is below… the ‘I Was Born a Loser’ lyric is strangely beautiful and positive with this film.
You see fluffy fir trees swaying rhythmically in the wind set against some very industrial sites, forbidding signs and cityscapes. Then we move to palm trees being blown almost to pieces, again it has a certain rhythmic flow to it, calming with the seductive reggae loop. Each tree looks a bit like it is under the influence of some mind bending drug as it sways and convulses out of the screen. Next we are transported to Berlin, during a fireworks show for Pyronale above the iconic Olympic Stadion. A drone flies up from behind trees swivelling around and taking in the scenes as the fireworks begin to shoot in the air. The camera floats through the sparks and smoke, up and down, surveying the area and capturing Berlin and the Stadion in the back ground as the sky is lit up. The mesmeric music perfectly in time as the visual journey develops and envelopes all your senses.
To read the real description then please refer to this link…..

Vivian Maier – The Original Street Photographer and Godmother of Selfies

A selfie before they were invented (and shit)

A selfie before they were invented (and shit)

You should have seen the documentary on Miss Vivian Maier already, if not then do so and then you will be compelled to see the photography for yourself.

Vivian Maier was a curious character, very much a lady who pet herself to herself, a woman who looked after children as a job but according to different reports could be a rather cold character. Not a huge amount is known about Maier apart from the accounts of  the families she worked for, her secret life as the most prolific street photographer perhaps of all time has only just come to light.

Maier died in 2009 and until then her huge body of work went unseen, until it was bought as a job lot by one fellow who spent hours sifting through the many boxes and realising he had hit upon gold. The exhibition has been around the world and now finds itself in Berlin for a small but perfectly formed retrospective at Will-Brandt-Haus, it is on until 12th April and is free, this is one exhibition to make sure you include in your schedule.

Maier was a curious character but also supremely adept at capturing people out of pose, in their natural environment and while they were not playing up to the camera. The subtly and lighting in her shots create a beautiful depth and story to each shot. The fact that she did not develop any of them, or name them means that these stories are somewhat lost but that adds to the beauty of the exhibition, sometimes you can have too much information.

Maier’s shots span NYC, SF, Chicago plus her travels to France and the Far East, the majority are black and white with some more recent colour versions. Maier was also the true originator of the now much maligned ‘selfie’, but in her technique it looks cool, stripped down and not showy at all. I worded how it would have sat with her to know she was the original selfie dropper…..

I Spy with my little eye…. Teufelsberg – Abandoned Berlin

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There are a million and one photos on Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr, various blogs and websites, so many that it is not an exaggeration to say this is Berlin’s very worst kept secret in the abandoned bracket. It is no secret. It is more of a secret that Kanye West has something on his mind than it is that this massively beautiful eyesore exists.

Since going to abandoned places in Berlin is pretty much in every guide and actually has become monetised fairly quickly, you can visit this one with zero issue. Basically send an email to these guys, then turn up and pay your Euros and then head in.

Teufelsberg Spy towers

Teufelsberg Spy towers

Little potted history, the website does it best so I’ll suggest you hit this jump to find out more…

In the beginning….

– 1915 – Bloody great big green space called Grunweld Forrest, lovely and calm, animals, walking, pretty etc.

– 1937 – That bloke Hitler, the one who was a total git, well he ignored the forrest contract from Prussian times and decided this would be a part of his master plan, he wanted this to be the gateway to his ‘New World Capital’. Basically a huge military technical facility, you can only imagine what the tiny tached one had planned.

– 1945 – Hitler gets defeated, but not before the building had started, but what to do with the partially build city….

– 1951 – Berlin had taken a bit of a flaying and there was an awful lot of rubble and debris that needed to be moved from Berlin city and burbs in order to regenerate. A solution was come up with, fill in the planned Hitler military buildings and pile the debris on top. They did so and it reached 115 metres, Basically a man made hill / mini mountain, the plan was for this to become a ski resort of sorts. That didn’t happen, as it the story of Berlin’s recent existence, things just don’t quite happen, maybe they tried to start work on a Monday.

-1963 – Instead of skiing the Americans and the Brits decided to use this as the perfect position to spy on our Ruskie brothers and sisters, to find out if they had any plans for world domination or the like brewing.

Then…. Well a company tried to turn it into a big hotel, that failed thankfully. Now it is owned privately and maintained for the general public to take their cameras to and look around.

Tour is nice, about an hour for 7 Euro with no information and 12 Euro for the more detailed version. You will get to go to the very top, where the views over the largely flat Berlin are spectacular, you can see all the way to the city and the iconic TV Tower is easily spotted on a good day. On top of this there will be a bunch of street artists adding to the array of paint you can shoot, and any budding graf artists can email to apply to paint there themselves, there is plenty of space so long as you don’t mind people shooting you doing it.

Closest station is SBahn Grunewald then you have a walk of about 25 minutes through a forrest.

Urban Spree – PeachBeach

Urban Spree is no secret, it is one of the main places to visit for tourists due to it’s ease of access and the fact it is pretty much exactly what people come to Berlin for. Graffiti in a cool space, in a cool area, surrounded by interesting things and at the heart of weekly events such as flea markets, bars and the always tasty Neue Heimat.

That is not to take anything away from Urban Spree, it constantly plays host to some of the most interesting and diverse schedules of street art that you are likely to find, currently it is PeachBeach which features various artworks from the likes of DXTR, Vidam, Look, Mike Friedrich, Martin Krusche, amongst others, what is nice about this is it is German curated and full of German artists.

SF popped down to watch Vidam finish of his huge mural piece this week and threw in a bit of hipster hyper lapse for good measure. I’d suggest a lil visit before they refresh the gallery next week. Pascal and his team always have something fresh lined up….

Blub – Top Abandoned Berlin Sight Seeing in Neukolln

Blub wave machine

Blub wave machine

The SF team have been all over the Abandoned Berlin vibes this summer, the sunshine in this city is to be taken advantage of and these are not places so easy to access when the dead of winter kicks in. We might have been getting to the point of saturation, they’re cool and all that but there is only so much smashed glass, tags, graf and general mess that you can see before you need to go to a nice sanitary gallery where they have electricity and the glass is fully formed.

Blub skate park

Blub skate park

A change to this is a much less well known place in Neukölln, one that is relatively new and one which is a sight to behold in the later summer sunshine. Blub (Berliner Luft und Badeparadies) situated just off of Buschkrugalle was first opened in 1984 at a cost of over 44 million Marks, and over the years was added to and changed around, but the main gist of it is an indoors (and a little outdoors) aqua land. It boasted huge swimming pools, a wave machine, water slides, fountains, steam rooms, saunas, water dooms and much more besides.

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SF can only imagine what this water world would have been like in its pomp for a kid of 14 years of age. It was taking over 600,000 visitors a year at one point, but then the tide turned. It begs the question as to why it is not still open today? Well according to my research (limited to Wiki and a bit of random blog searching) it was down to two things.

Former waterslide

Former waterslide

A turf war between local youths. Imagine, like being in the London Fields Estate and the kids battling over C*nts Corner or who ran the gate at the lido.

Rats, apparently it became unsanitary and overrun by the little disease carrying fuzz balls. SF is guessing that neither are conducive to a nice family day out.

Wooden walkways

Wooden walkways

Blub is hidden nicely off the road, the wooden elevated walkway entrances look like something from Hook, you expect Rufio to swing in at any minute.

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All around the building is covered with greenery, tress, plants and bushes that hide the building, so on arrival you would be forgiven for thinking it was a bit piss-poor-small. Guess again this thing is huge and once inside you can get an image in your head of what pandemonium went on. It is also right by Teltow canal, there lies the problem, those pesky rats venturing away from their water and taking over the human space. By 2003 some parts had to be closed because of the infestation. The places is getting a little less attractive now.

Added to this the kiddie turf war, bombing and aggressive splashing (assumption) was rife, some kids even resorting to water bombs (probably). Shit had got real and the only solution was to bring in security, yup water henchmen. Big dudes in black wraparound glasses, goatees and living on a diet of roods and Red Bull, patrolling the pool to keep the warning mini factions apart.

Skate channels

Skate channels

From 2002, slowly but surely areas were closed until in 2012 everything was shut. Apparently the area has been sold for flat redevelopment but until then it is worth a visit, it is certainly getting better known now, on our second visit there were hoards of Turkish kids running riot and skaters from 14 to 40 dropping in to the swimming pools.

Sauna graffiti

Sauna graffiti

Some of the artwork adorning the walls is pretty impressive and you will likely see some artists underway if you visit. It is as always a little bashed up, but not totally…. yet.

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SF even managed to get a souvenir. The original price board which had not been tagged or smashed, well we figured we might as well save something from the looters.

Original price board, in Deutsch Marks

Original price board, in Deutsch Marks

Picture(s) of the Day – Kein Schwimmen!

For the high board

For the high board

While the weather is holding out, before the onset of deep cold winters that render a cycle around Berlin as a crazy nightmare. SF have got the old pedlo out and made a list of a few more abandoned delights. Today BVB Schwimmbad at the site of the new / old BVG Stadion on Siegfreidstrasse.

Tiles and railings

Tiles and railings

Keeping it short and sweet today. Formally used as an Olympic training pool back in the day. Much loved during the summer by families to spend the day in the sun and water. A high board for bombing of course. Now the water in there is rain water, it is beyond dirty but the beautiful tile work remains. Easy to access, if a bit of a bitch to get to in terms of distance.

Shallow end

Shallow end

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The not so hidden Berlin bunker – Hochbunker Pallasstrasse

Paint and moss on the bunker

Paint and moss on the bunker

Since relocating SF to Berlin, the summer has been one big discovery, this city has something new to see every day. Some things are easy to access and some are a little harder, one of these is Hochbunker on Pallasstraße in Schönenberg.

Resident and bunker

Resident and bunker

The Hochbunker is not one of the well known Abandoned Berlin hotspots but for those few who have managed to get in to see it, it is certainly one of the most impressive. The bunker is only opened up to the public once a year and only to a limited number of people. Our tour guide confirmed that there have been 19 guided tours conducted over 19 years and no more than 40 people in each group, that makes the Hochbunker one of the hardest to visit landmarks in Berlin.

To enter the bunker

To enter the bunker

The building is on Pallasstraße, if you travel down the street you will see that there is a huge ugly concrete block set into everyday flats that stretch up over eight stories high, but you should look closer. This is one of the most beautiful sites in Berlin, the flats all have their own satellite dish fastened to the wall, but what creates such a striking scene is that every dish tells a story. Every dish has a sign or a tribute to the inhabitant’s own history and story. There are flags, pictures of babies and families, club crests from Galatasaray or Fenerbahce, or there are sunsets or just simple paintings. Each and every one brings a poignant insight to the everyday life of the.

Satellite signs

Satellite signs

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These apartments were built in the 1970’s around the huge Hochbunker, without touching the original structure, due to a lack of space for housing in this part of Berlin. The bunker is now a part of the Sophie-Scholl-Schule and has a rather interesting history.

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The bunker was built by prisoners and slaves that the Nazis had captured from across Europe, mostly made up of women and children, they were fed sparsely on just water and bread and sometimes a little sugar and expected to work long hours to create the bunker. These workers were housed in the former Augusta High School, which is now the Sophie-Scholl-Schule, named after a famous lady who opposed the Nazis and stood against them in the face of torture and punishment.

Bunker room

Bunker room

The bunker was not intended for humans to take shelter in but rather for machinery and supplies, this is reflected in the fact that the place is not very well ventilated, it was said that it has space for well over 150 people to stay in their comfortably but only for 24 hours as they would run out of oxygen.

Like every other outdoor space in Berlin, the walls are adorned with graffiti, messages and tags, but due to the fact that there is such limited access and only through a special guided tour, inside this piece of history there is no graffiti or tags or paste-ups.

You enter at ground level through gates and two huge and thick steel doors. The bunker is on four levels, each floor almost identical to the one above, huge white and cream walled rooms with unkind lighting and harsh finishes, the space would make an amazing gallery (shame about the damp) or a ridiculous venue for a rave (shame about the lack of oxygen). As it stands it is kept for limited viewings until a long term use can be found.

This way out

This way out

The building is all concrete, each external wall is 3 metres thick, there was talk of trying to knock it down after the war but this never happened, indeed the bunker was not finished before the war ended, but it must have been something of great importance to the Nazis as concrete in those days was expensive and hard to come by, so to set aside so much for the build of this bunker gives indication to it’s importance.

Concrete climb

Concrete climb

The space is sparse however there are two things to note, the school has used this space to create a small artistic installation, including a copper box with a rose inside, the lights shining through give the piece an eerie feel.

Emergency escape route

Emergency escape route

84 blocks

84 blocks

The most interesting part to the entire building was the escape route, on the 4th floor there is a door, but unlike any you might have seen before. This is the escape route to a bigger steel door behind in case of attack. The walled door is made up of 84 blocks which are 3 metres long each and have a steel handle on each block. In order to make it through to the exit door.

Imposing exterior

Imposing exterior

The tour is conducted by a professor who has lectured at the school and is a well of information, but ensure you take a German speaker as this is a visit conducted only in German. In order to book a place you have to show patience and determination to book a spot and wait for the date.

Abandoned Berlin – Kaserne Krampnitz – Former Nazi / Russian Military Base – PT I

The abandoned Krampnitz

The abandoned Krampnitz

Visiting Berlin and living here is different, SF finds much more time to go to those hard to find outposts. It was worth it too. In the first of a series of Abandoned Berlin trips we visit somewhere with a thoroughly dark history.

Important to read this sign

Important to read this sign

Berlin is a City that constantly reveals new things, some that you will not find on the usual tourist guides or through the rather staid guides from Vice et al. There are numerous abandoned places to investigate, for those of an inquisitive mind and up for a little bit of a challenge.

Krampnitz - Nazi / Russian Military town

Krampnitz – Nazi / Russian Military town

Krampnitz - Nazi / Russian Military town

Krampnitz – Nazi / Russian Military town

Krampnitz is a former military base on the outskirts of Berlin, far enough from the usual tourist traps to be pretty quiet and perfect for those up for a bit of a letch out of Berlin.

Krampnitz - Accomodation

Krampnitz – Accommodation

From the get go this place is creepy, the history alone dictates it is going to have a certain dark feel to it. Krampnitz was a Nazi military base for training troops right up until the end of WWII. Used to house soldiers, dignitaries and the like, there are some 50 buildings including a sprawling gym, a theatre or three, grandiose halls and meeting rooms and much more besides.

Krampnitz - Keeping the troops fit

Krampnitz – Keeping the troops fit

And shooting people

And shooting people

One of 3 theatres we found

One of 3 theatres we found

And another

And another

Krampnitz - No idea what this was or should be

Krampnitz – No idea what this was or should be

Krampnitz - remaining furniture

Krampnitz – remaining furniture

And a car baby seat of course

And a car baby seat of course

Once the Germans had moved on the Russians quickly moved in, they gave it a lick of paint here and there and put up their own iconography but largely the place remained the same.

Krampnitz - Russian takeover

Krampnitz – Russian takeover

Ready to invade?

Ready to invade?

In the early 90’s these Russians headed off and the area was basically closed down, not something to evoke feelings of pride or achievement, it was boarded up, blocked off and made out of bounds to the general public. And if you tell the people not to go in then clearly they will head their at the soonest opportunity.

Leaving the Russian mark

Leaving the Russian mark

Russian newspapers from the 80's

Russian newspapers from the 80’s

There is one gem that SF did not manage to find on this visit, there is a huge mosaic of an Eagle, one of the icons of the Nazi era, it is in one of the great halls and one of the few pieces still remaining, it is however a bitch to find it and nobody online will reveal if they know for fear it will be vandalised or stolen.

Krampnitz - The imposing main building, bricked and boarded up completely

Krampnitz – The imposing main building, bricked and boarded up completely

The place now has been ransacked of any of the original furniture, artifacts and in some cases walls, but you still get a feeling for the place and it’s history.

As mentioned, getting there is a little tricky…. Basically you need to get to Postdam Hauptbahnhof, it is the end of the line. Then you come out of the main entrance, cross the road and head up the hill on the opposite side to the big redbrick council like buildings and get a 639 or 638 bus. Use this map to help navigate and get a google earth one to see the buildings