In the midst of East Berlin in all its industrial glory, you’ll suddenly find a forest running the bank of the Rummelsburger Lake. Although this may seem completely out of place, it’s just because you don’t know what’s in it. Beyond the trees and beyond the attack guard dogs is a magical forbidden land of collapsed dinosaur statues, rusting ferris wheels, and graffitied swan boats. Welcome to Spreepark…
Kulturpark Plänterwald was formally opened in 1969 in what was at the time GDR controlled East Berlin. At the time it was also the only park of its kind in either East or West Germany. In 1989 when the wall came down and the GDR lost control of East Berlin, Spreepark Berlin GmbH was granted the contract to convert Kulturpark Plänterwald into VEB cultural park Berlin. Although modifications to the park were successfully completed in 1991, the granting of that contract to Spreepark Berlin marks the first step in the ground’s downfall.
The mixed municipal authorities granting the contract didn’t check the references of Norbert Witte of Spreepark Berlin GmbH. It was essentially a “lowest bidder” scenario, and Witte lied his way through the whole bidding process. Despite visitor numbers of above 1.5 million per year the park was soon struggling with large debts. In response, admission was increased, that price hike as well as a severe shortage of parking space is noted as the cause for rapid and significant drop in attendance. By 2001, only 400,000 people per year were visiting Spreepark.
Norbert Witte, con man that he was, knew when to get out. Having convinced the municipal authorities that six of the parks major attractions were in need of repair, he had them shipped to Lima, Peru where he himself fled. It’s not every day somebody steals six major theme park attractions. Using the stolen attractions he attempted to open “Luna Park” in Peru, but failed miserably in 2004. Following that he was discovered in an attempt to smuggle £14 million worth of cocaine from Peru to Germany in the masts of one of the stolen attractions. He should be getting released this year.
In 2002 Spreepark closed for good, sighting debts upwards of €11,000,000. Today the park is patrolled by guards with what are reportedly “vicious attack dogs”, but that hasn’t stopped many an urban explorer from getting across the gates and into a forbidden wonderland. If attack dogs aren’t your style get yourself a copy of the movie Hanna, wherein the grand finale takes an amazing stroll through all that Spreepark has to offer.
SATELLITE VIEW OF SPREEPARK
For more incredible images of Spreepark visit the photographers’ website…
RollerCoaster – photo credit Midnight Sushi Club
Dinosaurs – photo credit Evelyne Leveke
Dinousaurs2 – photo credit The Neuro Bureau Berlin
Swans – Photo credit The Neuro Bureau Berlin
Ferris wheel – Photo credit The Neuro Bureau Berlin
Tunnel – Photo credit The Neuro Bureau Berlin