The Berlin Tempelhof And What Makes It Special

One of the delightful aspects of Formula E is that it takes place in city centres. The creators said that this enables anyone to go and have a look, thus, lowering the threshold one has to overcome when going to a circuit out in the middle of nowhere.

The fine aspect of the Berlin ePrix, is that it does not only take place in the city of Berlin, it also takes place on the now defunct airport Tempelhof. Personally, I couldn't have thought of a better place to chose.

Berlin Tempelhof is riddled with history and has stood up to the passage of time, since it is one of only three pre-World War II airports. It has two parallel running runways and a by now iconic terminal building that stretches over 1.2 kilometers! After it had been closed down for aviation purposes, it lives on as a park and event location.

During normal use, you are not able to go close to the former terminal, let alone inside of it. However, Formula E made good use of this area and based almost all of their venue that wasn't the track inside or under the terminal. As already alluded to in my article about the Teufelberg, I am somewhat of a sucker for mid-20th century history, so as far as I was concerned, Formula E could not have chosen a better venue.

What Makes Berlin Tempelhof Special? 

Tempelhof was officially founded in 1926, and despite living through the Second World War it had not been used as a military air field. While the people in charge changed, it had remained a commercial airport for most of its history.

Even early on, it was coined one of the busiest airports, which lead to the old terminal being torn down and the new 1.2km long one being built that marks it until this day.  The construction took 5 years - from 1936 until 1941 - and is meant to look like an eagle in flight - beggar's belief - but so is the sheer size of the building. In fact, it is hard to stand right under the sign that said "Berlin Tempelhof" and get the whole writing onto one shot.

Berlin Tempelhof
However, its size and architecture is not the only thing that makes Tempelhof special. There is its history as well:

The most impressive feature is simply its age. This place is just shy of being part of 100 years of history since the first commercial jet landed on its field.

During this time, it got a new terminal that still stands until this day, it was in Nazi hands where bombers had been assembled and sent on their way. Despite this, it was not used as a military airport - only in case of emergency landings. Towards the end of the war, it had been in Soviet hands for a short time until the Potsdam Agreement in 1945 settled that it would be turned over to the United States Army.

In February 1946, it opened its gates to commercial flight once more. It wouldn't remain as such because Tempelhof would be part of the Berlin Airlift - as the starting place for most airplanes - and where the original Candy Bomber took place - pilot would drop candy for the children near the fences.

1994 ended the American military presence in Berlin, handing the ownership over to the city. The next ending, was announced in 1996 when it was decided to close the airport down in favour of Berlin-Schönefeld. By then, air traffic had been reduced to mostly small commuter aircrafts. On November 24th 2008, the last aircraft took off. Thus, ending Tempelhof's involvement in aviation.

Since then, it enjoys its retirement as a place for venues such as Berlin Music Week or the FIA Formula E Championship, and its outfield is one most popular parks of the city.

Formula E at Berlin Tempelhof | Berlin ePrix 2019

Why I Recommend Visiting Tempelhof: 

While 1.2 kilometers of length sounds impressive, you cannot compute the sheer size of it until you have seen it in an open field. Not only that, there are also the two runways which stretch into what seems like eternity. It is mind-boggling.

Berlin Tempelhof
Even though the hanger is typically closed and fenced off, you can still walk along the runaway, and experience history. There are signs left lying around, such as one telling the planes to hold for further instructions.

Berlin Tempelhof
Tempelhof may be off the beaten track for a typical tourist but just like Teufelsberg, I would not miss it for anything in the world. It is living history that you can touch and walk through. Furthermore, it is the perfect opportunity to enjoy a quiet day in the city.


  1. Thank you for the beautiful insight into Tempelhof's history. It's definitely worth spending an entire day there.

    1. Glad you liked it! It's a great place :)


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