Monday, August 9, 2010

Der Flughafen Tempelhof: Now a Park

Flughafen Tempelhof Entrance
Since my last visit to Berlin, the old Tempelhof Airport has closed and become a city park.  It opened to the public in May 2010, and is also used for open air concerts and festivals.  Built in the 1920s, Tempelhof was one of Europe's largest airports at the time it was build, and was vital during the Berlin airlift in the late 1940s. 

I remember visiting Tempelhof in the 1990s and was struck by its fascist architectural style:  very dramatic and inspiring.  It was meant to convey the power of government and was based on Roman and Greek ideals.  Unfortunately, the airport's interior is now closed to the public.  However, if you visit Berlin, there are plenty of other buildings, which survived WWII and designed in this particular style, including the Japanese, Spanish and Italian embassies (all former fascist countries).

Windsurfer
The city intends to develop Tempelhof Park over the next 10 years; but right now, it still looks like an airport with its old runways serving as places for people to run, walk, skate, windsurf (on a skateboard), and cycle.  I also saw people flying kites and model airplanes.  There are observation decks throughout the grounds, including a Biergarten where you can drink and eat, as well as play badminton, boules, or sit on one of the folding chairs.  The park is also a refuge for a number of endangered flora and fauna species, including wasps, bees, and butterflies. 

  
Public Laughter
While I was riding my bike in the park, I happened to catch the Public Laughter Group doing their "laugh exercises."   According to research, the lack of laughter is a major contributor to many of our health problems.  Did you know that a child laughs 500 times during the course of a day while an adult laughs only 15 times?  I'm lucky if I can laugh once a day; although, I did smile and laugh as I watched the group go through their laugh routines.  If I had more time, I would join the group.  It really looked like fun!!!



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