SIGHT­SEE­ING

What do a na­ture site, pub­lic park, and party venue all have in com­mon? Annabelle Mallia dis­cov­ers the an­swer is trains.

Where Berlin - - CONTENTS -

What do a na­ture site, pub­lic park, and party venue all have in com­mon? Trains.

The po­lit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion in Berlin be­tween WWII and the end of the Cold War in 1989 meant the redevelopment and uti­liza­tion of many ar­eas, in­clud­ing train de­pots, was put on hold un­til Berlin could take its place as cap­i­tal once more. Some of these lo­ca­tions have now been con­verted into fan­tas­tic pub­lic spa­ces. At the for­mer rail­way yard Natur­park

Südgelände Schoneberg (S Pri­ester­weg), more than four decades of ne­glect allowed flora around the tracks to grow into wild ur­ban wood­land. Aban­doned due to re­duced train ser­vices in the West (gov­erned by the Re­ichs­bahn sit­ting in the East), it is to­day one of the first of­fi­cially con­served ur­ban-in­dus­trial na­ture sites. A fas­ci­nat­ing mix of na­ture, relics of the steam train era, and art, the park has paths and el­e­vated bridges fol­low­ing the course of the old rail­way tracks, and a for­mer lo­co­mo­tive hall now dis­play­ing works from ex­per­i­men­tal artists. There is also an open-air stage fea­tur­ing the­ater per­for­mances un­der the stars.

Park am Gleis­dreieck (U Gleis­dreieck) is an­other ex­am­ple of aban­doned train tracks over­grown by wilder­ness. A for­mer rail­way hub, it be­came an in­dus­trial waste­land af­ter WWII and lay dor­mant for decades be­fore be­ing re­de­vel­oped into an ur­ban park. The 26-hectare site, stretch­ing along the west­ern fringe of Kreuzberg, is an in­ner- city recre­ational oa­sis, of­fer­ing walk­ing and jog­ging paths, skate ramps, nu­mer­ous play­grounds, and plenty of green mead­ows for pic­nick­ers and sports en­thu­si­asts. Some of the old sig­nal­ing and rail­way fa­cil­i­ties re­main, pro­vid­ing a dis­tinc­tive flair and glimpse into the park’s ori­gins. In­stead of na­ture, ex­pect graf­fiti-tar­nished grounds and derelict build­ings at the RAW

Gelände (S+U Warschauer Straße). Founded in 1867 as a train re­pair sta­tion (Re­ichs­bah­nAus­besserungs-Werk), it has been con­verted into a thriv­ing, al­ter­na­tive cul­tural project. There is the Sun­day flea mar­ket, a bunker turned climb­ing wall, and an in­door skat­ing hall, along with bars and mu­sic venues to keep you par­ty­ing un­til the crack of dawn, when the city trains start up again to take you home.

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