Home Travel Tempelhof: The single site that embodies Berlin

Tempelhof: The single site that embodies Berlin

Tempelhof: The single site that embodies Berlin

In a twist of irony, decades after Tempelhof was conceived by the Nazis, the airport reprised its Cold War role as a lifeline for those in need by becoming Europe’s biggest refugee camp. 

Beginning in 2015, the terminal and some of its grounds were used to house Syrian refugees, with more than 2,000 sleeping under the hangars’ 52ft-high ceilings at one point. Today, a “container village” near the runway is housing several hundred Ukrainian refugees. And in the depths of the Covid-19 pandemic, the airport’s grounds became a vaccination site – a role reminiscent of its brief life as a field hospital during the 19th-Century’s Franco-Prussian War.

“[It’s] a particularly special place because how much history it holds,” said Cindy Brzostowski, an American journalist living in Berlin. “All it takes is a look down to remember that you’re on a runway with years and years’ worth of stories.” 

Like the city that surrounds it, Tempelhof continues to shift its identity, providing an inclusive space for Berliners old, new or just passing through. 

“Skating [here] is always a great feeling,” said Janta. “Even though I’m used to it, every time it feels like a new experience. Every time I hit the pavement, I just take deep breath and enjoy this feeling, almost like butter on the skin.”


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