Past glories of Socialist "fun & games" deserted and overgrown with weeds
We here at DRB are big lovers of abandoned amusement parks, see for example our Abandoned Disney and Abandoned Amusement Parks in Asia. These places are truly haunting and provide an incredible venue for urban exploration, atmospheric photography and, perhaps, even for a location or two for low-budget movies.
Spreepark PlanterWald, near Treptower Park in Berlin: complete with fallen dinosaurs!
Many such deteriorating parks are hidden behind security barriers, or camouflaged with faux facades in an effort to pretend that they do not exist. But this particularly fantastic place, Spreepark PlanterWald, is "hidden in plain view". It is located smack in the middle of a major European city - Berlin - close to the much-visited Treptower Park.
It is clearly marked on every map - and does not seem to be closely guarded. Standing abandoned since 2001, it even has its own website. In other words, it could be a perfect "first foray" for any budding urban explorer or abandoned places photographer.
When it opened in 1969 as Kulturpark Planterwald, it was the "only constant entertainment park in the GDR, and the only such park in either East or West Berlin". However, the Berlin Senate did not seem to have provided for enough parking space... which is quite silly, all things considered. Plus, the forest around the park was deemed to be doomed from the impact of visiting crowds. In any case, the socialist and then private owners were left with a bunch of debt and the place got suspended in limbo... But the story does not end there (read on).
Indeed, this former amusement park is situated centrally, located close to famous World War Two monument in Treptower Park, and was very popular in its day. It is fitfully surrounded by the lush forest, which casts leafy shadows on rusted remains of roller coaster tracks and hides the quaint carousel rides in the middle of overgrown ferns.
The story of park's decline is rife with smuggling and criminal overtones: when in 2001 park was declared insolvent, one of the employees (or park owners - Norbert Witte) arranged to move some attractions all the way across the ocean to Peru (where he moved with his family and tried to open another Lunapark there). When his venture failed there as well, he was caught smuggling cocaine (valued at $20 million) back to Germany inside the mast of one of the ships ("Flying Carpet" ride)!
Visit Flickr pool for more images of Planterwald here and here.
Treptower Park holds a few wonders of its own, too
Here is an interesting sculpture from the Socialist Avantgarde era, dedicated to the World Youth Festival in 1973 in East Berlin:
In the middle of the park, there is another gem: Archenhold Sternwarte observatory, where Einstein lectured on the Theory of Relativity in 1915. It houses the longest 21m reflecting telescope in the world - which looks like a surreal gun pointed into the sky from the building:
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