Category Archives: Abandoned Places

Berlin Hippo Habitat Under Threat – The Abandoned Wernerbad

Hut and Steps at the abandoned swimming pool Wernerbad (Freibad Wernersee) in Kaulsdorf, Berlin

My search for forgotten and overlooked places in Berlin led me this week to Kaulsdorf and the Wernerbad (an abbreviated name for the Freibad Wernersee) where I found Knautschke, a concrete hippo, patrolling the long grass at the edge of the abandoned swimming pool.

Knautschke the Hippo (Nilpferd or Flusspferd) at the abandoned swimming pool Wernerbad (Freibad Wernersee) in Kaulsdorf, Berlin

Since 2002, when the Wernerbad closed, Knautschke has had the waters of the deserted pool to himself.  Named after a popular hippo (Nilpferd or Flusspferd in German) at Berlin Zoo, the sculpture, along with a group of penguins that supervised the queues at the water fountain, was created by local sculptor Erwin Kobbert.

Penguin Drinking Fountain by Erwin Kobbert at the abandoned swimming pool Wernerbad (Freibad Wernersee) in Kaulsdorf, Berlin

The original Knautschke was born in 1943 and survived the war thanks to the efforts of keepers at the zoo, who kept him watered after bombs destroyed part of the hippo enclosure.  Unfortunately, having survived the bombing raids, he was so badly wounded by his own son Nante in 1988 that he had to be put to sleep.

The fate of the concrete Knautschke is just one of the issues that has concerned local residents since plans to reopen the pool were shelved.

Dolly's Restaurant and Kneipe at the abandoned swimming pool Wernerbad (Freibad Wernersee) in Kaulsdorf, Berlin

The history of the Wernerbad begins at the turn of the twentieth century when Wilhelm Werner bought the land surrounding what is now the Wernersee (previously referred to as Katzenstertpfuhl or Achtruthenpfuhl).  In 1901 he opened the Badeschlösschen, a restaurant and bathing lodge at the edge of the water, which assumed the name Wernerbad and was formally opened in 1905.

Predating the opening of the Strandbad Wannsee by two years this means that the Wernerbad was Berlin’s first open-air swimming pool (Freibad).

The ownership and running of the Freibad was taken over by the city of Berlin in 1951 and between 1957 and 1959 a 50m tiled pool was created.

The abandoned swimming pool Wernerbad (Freibad Wernersee) in Kaulsdorf, Berlin

A new system was installed at considerable cost to improve the quality of the water in the naturally fed pool in 1991, which was again closed for refurbishment in 1994 before finally closing its doors to visitors in 2002 due to new concerns about the water quality.

Changing Rooms at the abandoned swimming pool Wernerbad (Freibad Wernersee) in Kaulsdorf, Berlin

Kneipe (Dolly's) and Gates at the abandoned swimming pool Wernerbad (Freibad Wernersee) in Kaulsdorf, Berlin

The association Freunde des Wernerbades e.V was established in 2006 with the aim of reopening the pool to the public but a number of issues meant that it was  unable to achieve its objective.  There were concerns over the lack of adequate parking, noise levels and the effect of increased traffic in the area.  In addition the overgrown pool now provides a natural habitat for wildlife.  The cost of the project also played a part as significant investment would be required to install a water treatment system capable of bringing the water quality up to current standards.

The abandoned and overgrown swimming pool Wernerbad (Freibad Wernersee) in Kaulsdorf, Berlin

Steps and Hut at the abandoned swimming pool Wernerbad (Freibad Wernersee) in Kaulsdorf, Berlin

Wassertiefe sign at the abandoned swimming pool Wernerbad (Freibad Wernersee) in Kaulsdorf, Berlin

As a result, on 13 June 2013 the Abgeordnetenhaus von Berlin (the state parliament or House of Representatives) approved the declassification of the Wernerbad as a sports area.  This removes the site from the responsibility of Berliner Bäder Betriebe, the body that manages the swimming pools in Berlin, and allows for the sale of the land to an investor for development.

The latest proposal is for a home for the elderly with facilities for the treatment of dementia to take up the majority of the land.  The Eastern shore of the Wernersee will remain accessible to the public.

The slide at the abandoned swimming pool Wernerbad (Freibad Wernersee) in Kaulsdorf, Berlin

Since the closure, Marzahn-Hellersdorf is the only district of Berlin without a Freibad.  The local council has been hoping for some time to expand the Kinderbad in Bürgerpark Marzahn for adult swimming but lacked the funds to do so.  It is now hoped that some of the proceeds of the sale of the Wenerbad can be used to finance this project.

Hut and Lamp Post at the abandoned swimming pool Wernerbad (Freibad Wernersee) in Kaulsdorf, Berlin

As for Knautschke, Sven Kohlmeier, the SPD representative for Marzahn-Hellersdorf in the Abgeordnetenhaus von Berlin is determined to ensure that the hippo remains in Kaulsdorf.

The abandoned swimming pool Wernerbad (Freibad Wernersee) in Kaulsdorf, Berlin

For now though, the reeds continue to grow around the roaring (or is he yawning) beast as he stands perfectly still in the dirty water of the Wernerbad, and the abandoned swimming pool in Kaulsdorf, like many of Berlin’s derelict sites and buildings is visited only by those out for a little urbex adventure.

Bahnbetriebswerk Pankow-Heinersdorf – An Abandoned Train Yard

The Roundhouse of Bahnbetriebswerk Pankow-Heinersdorf in Berlin

Urban exploring doesn’t get much easier than a visit to the Bahnbetriebswerk Pankow-Heinersdorf (far easier to visit than say) an abandoned train yard in Berlin.  The train sheds, administrative buildings and turntable are conveniently (for exploring and formerly for repairing and servicing trains) right next to the S-Bahnhof.

Crossing the open land between the road and the main buildings I was a little nervous about being seen from the train station but there are no walls, fences or other barriers.

Opened on 1 October 1893 the train yard and depot operated until the 1990s but has been derelict since.  For a more detailed history of the Bahnbetriebswerk Pankow-Heinersdorf read this post on Digital Cosmonaut.

The first building I entered was the Roundhouse.

Inside the Roundhouse at Bahnbetriebswerk Pankow-Heinersdorf in Berlin

Columns and Windows inside the Roundhouse at Bahnbetriebswerk Pankow-Heinersdorf in Berlin

Smile - Street Art by Unknown Artist at Bahnbetriebswerk Pankow-Heinersdorf

Back outside, I made my way through a number of outbuildings to the Train Turntable (Drehscheibe).

Shooting Target - Street Art by Unknown Artist at Bahnbetriebswerk Pankow-Heinersdorf

The Engine Sheds, Train Turntable (Drehscheibe) and Administration Building at Bahnbetriebswerk Pankow-Heinersdorf in Berlin

The Administration Building and Operating Booth of the Train Turntable at Bahnbetriebswerk Pankow-Heinersdorf in Berlin

The Administration Building and Train Turntable (Drehscheibe) at Bahnbetriebswerk Pankow-Heinersdorf in Berlin

Then into the Engine sheds.

Sunlight Through a Hole in the Roof of the Engine Shed at Bahnbetriebswerk Pankow-Heinersdorf

18 at Bahnbetriebswerk Pankow-Heinersdorf in Berlin

Inside the Engine Shed at Bahnbetriebswerk Pankow-Heinersdorf in Berlin

I went to Bahnbetriebswerk Pankow-Heinersdorf after my visit to the abandoned Iraqi Embassy so the light was fading at this stage and I didn’t have time to check out the administrative building.  Watching the sun setting over the buildings I didn’t want to leave but exploring in the dark isn’t easy and is potentially dangerous.

The Roundhouse of Bahnbetriebswerk Pankow-Heinersdorf in Berlin at Dusk

The Engine Sheds and Train Turntable (Drehscheibe) at Bahnbetriebswerk Pankow-Heinersdorf in Berlin

Sunset at the Roundhouse of Bahnbetriebswerk Pankow-Heinersdorf in Berlin

For more impressions of the abandoned Bahnbetriebswerk Pankow-Heinersdorf in Berlin, check out this iPhone video from Albert N Romero.

Güterbahnhof Berlin-Pankow – Abandoned Train Roundhouse

Teufelsberg – The Art Gallery On The Devil’s Mountain

The domes of the former NSA Listening Station loom over the art at Teufelsberg Berlin

When I first visited Teufelsberg in August 2010 there was plenty of graffiti about and the odd bit of Street Art but thanks to the aborted Berlin Artbase 2012 event the former NSA Listening Station is a veritable Street Art Gallery.

The climb up the Teufelsberg (Devil’s Mountain) in the Grunewald is worth it for the views and the opportunity to walk around the former NSA facility alone (find out more about my latest visit here) but the quality of the Street Art is an added bonus.

PAOD

PAOD may be familiar to Berlin Street Art fans for the piece painted with Hannes Höhlig on Utrechter Strasse for Wedding Walls.

Cat - Street Art by PAOD at the former NSA Listening Station at Teufelsberg Berlin

The Rainbowarlord

Teufelbergfrieden - Street Art by The Rainbowarlord at the former NSA Listening Station at Teufelsberg Berlin

SAM Crew

SAM Crew is a Berlin Street Art collective comprising John Reaktor, Hazard Hope, Duke Cuke, Billo and Fogeljunge.

SAM Crew featured in my post re:MMX – Art Exhibition in Berlin.

Stretching - Street Art by SAM Crew (painted for Artbase 2012) at the former NSA Listening Station at Teufelsberg Berlin

JBAK

JBAK is a collaboration between James Bullough and Addison Karl.  Like SAM Crew, their work featured in my re:MMX – Art Exhibition in Berlin post.

Morning - Street Art by JBAK (painted for Artbase 2012) at the former NSA Listening Station at Teufelsberg Berlin

Old Man - Street Art by JBAK (painted for Artbase 2012) at the former NSA Listening Station at Teufelsberg Berlin

Mein Lieber Prost

The smiley faces and Prostie character of PROST or Mein Lieber Prost have featured a number of times here and will be familiar to anyone who has walked the streets of Berlin.

PROST - Street Art by Mein Lieber Prost at the former NSA Listening Station at Teufelsberg Berlin

ALANIZ

It is difficult to do justice to this huge mural by ALANIZ that covers the whole of one wall of the main building.

Fight To The Death - Street Art by ALANIZ (painted for Artbase 2012) at the former NSA Listening Station at Teufelsberg Berlin

Detail from Fight To The Death - Street Art by ALANIZ (painted for Artbase 2012) at the former NSA Listening Station at Teufelsberg Berlin

Detail from Fight To The Death - Street Art by ALANIZ (painted for Artbase 2012) at the former NSA Listening Station at Teufelsberg Berlin

ALIAS

There were a number of pieces by ALIAS and as I have seen before with his work on the streets of Berlin some had been attacked. The features of his ‘Body Body Head’ paste up had been painted out and the scrawl across this ‘Headless’ piece suggests animosity that the spot had been reserved for ALIAS.

Headless - Street Art by ALIAS (painted for Artbase 2012) at the former NSA Listening Station at Teufelsberg Berlin

Cheeky Boy - Street Art by ALIAS (painted for Artbase 2012) at the former NSA Listening Station at Teufelsberg Berlin

KEN

Thanks to James of JBAK for commenting to let me know that this piece is by KEN (aka Plotterroboter or Plotbot).  Ironically, there were other pieces by KEN at Teufelsberg that I had kept back for a post just about his art.

KEN’s art was the highlight of the Stattmarkt Christmas Art Market at Stattbad Wedding for me and also featured in my post about the abandoned laundry and dyeing factory of Rewatex.

Woman in Sunglasses - Street Art by KEN (aka Plotterroboter or Plotbot) at the former NSA Listening Station at Teufelsberg Berlin

Ambush

Thanks to Ambush for getting in touch to let me know that this Bending Berlin Baby piece based on the character Bender from Futurama is his work.  You can see more of what he’s up to on his website.

Bending Berlin Baby (Bender from Futurama) - Street Art by Ambush at the former NSA Listening Station at Teufelsberg Berlin

Unknown Artists

If anyone knows the artists for any of these pieces please let me know in the comments so that I can give the proper credit.

Black and White Girl - Street Art by Unknown Artist at the former NSA Listening Station at Teufelsberg Berlin

Slogans by Unknown Artist at the former NSA Listening Station at Teufelsberg Berlin

Einkauf - Street Art by Unknown Artist at the former NSA Listening Station at Teufelsberg Berlin

Girl With Dandelion - Street Art by Unknown Artist (painted for Artbase 2012) at the former NSA Listening Station at Teufelsberg Berlin

Teufelsberg – A Return To The Devil’s Mountain

A dome on the roof and the view from the former NSA Listening Station at Teufelsberg in Berlin

Berlin was cold but sunny yesterday and when a friend had the ‘crazy idea’ to walk up the Teufelsberg I didn’t take much persuading.

The Teufelsberg (Devil’s Mountain) is a hill in the Grunewald forest in Berlin and is most famous for the former NSA Listening Station that sits at its peak.

As we walked from Grunewald S-Bahnhof I recounted the story of my previous trip to Teufelsberg in August 2010.  Then, the Grunewald lived up to its name (Green Forest) but yesterday the predominant colour was white, the snow laying thick on the ground.

Having reached the top of the Teufelsberg we walked around the perimeter fence of the former NSA facility occasionally stopping to look up at the domes looming high above us.

A dome of the former NSA Listening Station at Teufelsberg in Berlin seen through the perimeter fence

On the Western slope of the hill we came across a group of sledgers, skiers and snowboarders enjoying the snow on the Rodelberg (the best translation from Google is toboggan mountain).

When we reached the main gates of the former NSA Listening station a guide was preparing to take a group of visitors on a tour and on a whim we decided to join them.

For €7 (or a reduced price of €5 for students) our guide led us to the main building in the complex and up the highest tower.

The main change to the building since my last visit was the addition of lots of great Street Art (much of it created for the aborted Artbase 2012 event) – so much in fact that I will post about it separately.

Our first stop as we climbed the tower was the highest floor with a view over Berlin.

Looking down on buildings at the former NSA Listening Station at Teufelsberg in Berlin

Tattered sheeting and the Wannsee from the highest tower of the former NSA Listening Station at Teufelsberg in Berlin

Olympiastadion (the Olympic Stadium) and a factory from the former NSA Listening Station at Teufelsberg in Berlin

Then it was up to the top dome, with its incredible acoustics, where we were treated to an impromptu performance from a singer who was there when we arrived.

Our guide (off camera in the video) then took up the baton and gave his own performance.

As we descended we stopped on the roof of the main building for more photo opportunities and as luck would have it we had timed it perfectly to see some wonderful colours in the sky as the sun began to set.

A dome on the roof and the view from the former NSA Listening Station at Teufelsberg in Berlin

A dome and the setting sun on the roof of the former NSA Listening Station at Teufelsberg in Berlin

Pink sky and a dome on the roof of the former NSA Listening Station at Teufelsberg in Berlin

And then it was time to leave.

The main dome tower at the former NSA Listening Station at Teufelsberg in Berlin

An outbuilding and dome at the former NSA Listening Station at Teufelsberg in Berlin

A dome tower at sunset at the former NSA Listening Station at Teufelsberg in Berlin

I think that €7 is a small price to pay for the wonderful views over Berlin and the opportunity to walk around the former NSA Listening Station at Teufelsberg but the adrenaline rush of sneaking through the fence on my previous visit was sadly missing.

The Abandoned Iraqi Embassy in Berlin (Die Verlassene Irakische Botschaft)

The Abandoned Iraqi Embassy in Berlin - Die Verlassene Irakische Botschaft

Built in 1974 and empty since staff were ordered to leave during the Gulf War in January 1991 the abandoned Iraqi Embassy in Berlin is a popular Urbex destination.

The non-descript pre-fabricated concrete building (the Plattenbau style so common in Soviet-era East Germany) sits in a quiet cul-de-sac in the former diplomatic quarter of the Deutsche Demokratische Republik (DDR) in Pankow.

Its grey walls belie its colourful past.

Iraq was the first non-Socialist country to recognise the DDR as a state in 1969 and a special friendship developed between the two countries.  It is widely believed that the DDR was offering scientific help to Iraq, particularly with their development of nuclear and chemical weapons.

In 1980, two members of staff from the embassy were arrested in West Berlin whilst attempting deliver a suitcase of explosives as part of a plot to kill a group of Kurdish dissidents at a meeting in Wedding.

Arabic Book Cover - Abandoned Iraqi Embassy Berlin - Die Verlassene Irakische Botschaft

The embassy came under renewed scrutiny in 1990 when it was reported in the magazine Junge Welt, that the building was being used to stockpile weapons and explosives and to protect terrorists.  The East German Interior Ministry confirmed the weapons find and activities at the embassy were monitored closely.

And then they were gone.

Looking at the building now it would seem that when staff were ordered to leave in 1991 they left in a hurry.  The Iraqi Embassy to the re-unified Germany is now in Dahlem and has been since 2003.

Germany owns the land on which the now derelict embassy stands but granted Iraq perpetual rights to the land and building.  This has left the plot in a state of limbo.  The Germans say they have no right to it and the Iraqis have their shiny new embassy so they’re not interested.

Dark Corridor and Bathroom - Abandoned Iraqi Embassy Berlin - Die Verlassene Irakische Botschaft

Dark Corridor and Furniture - Abandoned Iraqi Embassy Berlin - Die Verlassene Irakische Botschaft

Draughty Room - Abandoned Iraqi Embassy Berlin - Die Verlassene Irakische Botschaft

The Iraqi Embassy is in a dreadful state.

It is a series of dark corridors and draughty rooms, many of which are now completely open to the elements and there is broken glass and paperwork everywhere.

A lot of the writing is in Arabic so I can’t be sure but I assume any sensitive documents were taken away.  At one time the books, papers and files must have been stored neatly on shelves and in cupboards but now they are strewn across the floor and amassed in great heaps.

English and Arabic Writing - Abandoned Iraqi Embassy Berlin - Die Verlassene Irakische Botschaft

Arabic Book - Abandoned Iraqi Embassy Berlin - Die Verlassene Irakische Botschaft

The Europa Year Book 1982 - Abandoned Iraqi Embassy Berlin - Die Verlassene Irakische Botschaft

The smell of mouldy paper is overpowering.

As in all abandoned buildings the visitors have left their mark in the form of pictures, slogans and more considered art.

Our House In The Middle Of Iraq - Abandoned Iraqi Embassy Berlin - Die Verlassene Irakische Botschaft

Clown Face - Abandoned Iraqi Embassy Berlin - Die Verlassene Irakische Botschaft

Excerpt from Ray Bradbury’s And There Will Come Soft Rains by Elizabeth Skadden - Abandoned Iraqi Embassy Berlin - Die Verlassene Irakische Botschaft

The furniture has been moved, papers have been burned and typewriters, faxes and photocopiers have been smashed and their keys have been removed.

Chair and Desk on Balcony - Abandoned Iraqi Embassy Berlin - Die Verlassene Irakische Botschaft

Paperwork - Abandoned Iraqi Embassy Berlin - Die Verlassene Irakische BotschaftBurnt Paperwork - Abandoned Iraqi Embassy Berlin - Die Verlassene Irakische Botschaft

It is clear that many treasures have been looted.

Early blog posts and newspaper articles mention framed portraits of Saddam Hussein hanging on the walls – some of the authors even boast of the souvenirs they took.

Now there are just a few newspapers and calendars bearing his image.

Saddam Hussein Front Page of Paper - Abandoned Iraqi Embassy Berlin - Die Verlassene Irakische Botschaft

Saddam Hussein Face on Calendar - Abandoned Iraqi Embassy Berlin - Die Verlassene Irakische Botschaft

Saddam Hussein Hands and Title on Calendar - Abandoned Iraqi Embassy Berlin - Die Verlassene Irakische Botschaft

I would recommend visiting the abandoned Iraqi Embassy in Berlin soon before all vestiges of its past life have been plundered, damaged or burnt and all that’s left is a derelict shell. Who knows, Germany and Iraq may one day even sort out the issue of ownership and put the land to new use.

Rewatex – Abandoned Laundry and Dyeing Factory – Berlin

Rewatex Berlin - an abandoned industrial laundry and dyeing factory

In autumn sunlight the abandoned industrial laundry and dyeing factory on the Spree, previously home to  VEB Rewatex, looks almost inviting as an urbex destination but in the snow and cold of a Berlin winter it’s a different story.

When Digital Cosmonaut suggested a trip out to Spindlersfeld last October to explore an abandoned factory I jumped at the chance.  By coincidence, just a few weeks before, as we stood on the opposite side of the river in Köpenick, Bine had told me about the factory where Dry Cleaning had first been developed.

Wilhelm Spindler formed W Spindler, a laundry and dyeing company, in Berlin in 1832 and the headquarters of the firm moved to Spindlersfeld (then Oberspree) in 1873.

Roof at Rewatex Berlin - an abandoned industrial laundry and dyeing factory

The company was acquired by the state in 1949 and renamed VEB Blütenweisß.  In 1961 the name changed to VEB Vereinigte Wäschereien Berlin Rewatex (VEB Rewatex for short) and in 1981 to VEB Kombinat Rewatex.

After the fall of the Berlin Wall the company was again renamed, this time becoming Rewatex AG and was acquired by Kölner Larosé Hygiene-Service-GmbH in 1992.  Shortly after re-privatisation operations ceased and the factory at Spindlersfeld has been empty ever since.

The main factory building is laid out as a square, which means seemingly endless corridors and open rooms with many supporting columns.

The Factory Floor at Rewatex Berlin - an abandoned industrial laundry and dyeing factory

The Light At The End Of The Corridor at Rewatex Berlin - an abandoned industrial laundry and dyeing factory

Crumbling Columns at Rewatex Berlin - an abandoned industrial laundry and dyeing factory

There is also a central courtyard, now overgrown with weeds, which helps give a sense of scale to the complex and is useful when orienting yourself whilst exploring.

The Courtyard of Rewatex Berlin - an abandoned industrial laundry and dyeing factory

The Courtyard at Rewatex Berlin - an abandoned industrial laundry and dyeing factory

There are signs of the administrative functions of the upper floors of the building with invoices, ledgers and other paperwork strewn across the floors, some showing signs of fire damage.

Paperwork at VEB Kombinat Rewatex Berlin - an abandoned industrial laundry and dyeing factory

Receipts at Rewatex Berlin - an abandoned industrial laundry and dyeing factory

Paperwork at Rewatex Berlin - an abandoned industrial laundry and dyeing factory

There are the usual signs of disrepair and neglect around the building – floors are warped, ceilings are collapsing and there is graffiti on many surfaces.

Collapsed Ceiling At Rewatex Berlin - an abandoned industrial laundry and dyeing factory

Graffiti at Rewatex Berlin - an abandoned industrial laundry and dyeing factory

Someone may have been contemplating a repair on this hole in an upper floor but I don’t think Lego bricks would really serve the purpose.

Hole In The Floor at Rewatex Berlin - an abandoned industrial laundry and dyeing factory

There are also a couple of outbuildings worth poking your head into, though there is not much to be seen in them.

Loading Bay at Rewatex Berlin - an abandoned industrial laundry and dyeing factory

My revisit a couple of weeks ago was prompted by one of my favourite Berlin based Street Artists, KEN, posting a photo on his Facebook page of a piece he had painted at the factory.

KEN Street Art at Rewatex Berlin - an abandoned industrial laundry and dyeing factory

It took me a little while to find, as there is only one opening, which would have been a doorway when the room had a floor, that gives a view of the piece.

KEN Street Art at Rewatex Berlin - an abandoned industrial laundry and dyeing factory (Wide Angle)

The room in which it was painted was badly damaged by a fire on the night of 29 September 2006, which destroyed the upper two floors.  A new roof has since been added – the pristine wood incongruous amongst the damaged brickwork and piles of rubble below.

I didn’t hang around too long on my revisit to the abandoned Rewatex laundry in Berlin because there were animal tracks in the snow not accompanied by human footprints so I wasn’t entirely sure I was alone.  Besides, the site wasn’t as inviting as my first visit as the following two shots show.

Sunset at Rewatex Berlin - an abandoned industrial laundry and dyeing factory

Leaving Rewatex Berlin in the Snow - an abandoned industrial laundry and dyeing factory

A Year In The Life Of Berlin

Jumping at Sunset at Tempelhofer Freiheit in Berlin

In yesterday’s post I reflected on my personal experiences in Berlin in the last year but today I would also like to draw your attention to some of my other favourites moments – my Berlin highlights from other people’s perspectives.

Graffiti Cat: Street Art by Unknown Artist in Berlin

A number of Berlin blog posts have helped me discover Berlin or ‘just’ entertained me in the last 12 months.

überlin

As I mentioned in my post yesterday, James and Zoë were the first people to retweet me and champion my content and that’s why I was so happy to see their post, What I Know About Germans, go viral.  I would watch the FB likes and comments increase & think ‘good things do happen to good people’.

This post by guest blogger, Liv Hambrett of A Big Life, was generally well received by fellow outsiders and Germans alike. The genius of the writing is the obvious respect shown for the characteristics the author originally appears to poke fun at.

The more recent You know you’re a Berliner when… – again a guest post, this time by Adam Fletcher, also deserves an honourable mention.

Slow Travel Berlin

This Berlin sunset image taken by Slow Travel Berlin founder Paul Sullivan took my breath away and is my Berlin photo of the year.

Amongst the many entertaining and educational articles on the site On the Stasi Trail by Tam Eastley (one half of Mädels With A Microphone) stands out.

Digital Cosmonaut

Also mentioned yesterday, Georg of Digital Cosmonaut has produced some stunning images and some essential reading. His post about Sanatorium E, which we explored together, is a real peach.  If you see beauty in abandonment and dereliction and have an interest in the history of such buildings you’ll love this post.

A Year in Berlin

For me, reading Ian’s post about Beelitz-Heilstätten on A Year In Berlin was a double-edged sword.  His beautifully written description of his visit and carefully researched and well presented history of this abandoned tuberculosis and military hospital makes me long to visit.  On the other hand, it also fills me with dread at the prospect of writing my own post.

Abandoned Berlin

Continuing the theme of playgrounds for the Urban Explorer, Abandoned Berlin is a treasure trove of information about the not-so-obvious tourist attractions in and around Berlin.

The Irish Berliner’s tales of his adventures are carefully crafted and as entertaining as they are descriptive.  Reading his post about the lost city of Vogelsang, I felt like I was there exploring with him, something I got to do at Papierfabrik Wolfswinkel recently.

Mädels With A Microphone

I found Jen and Tam’s mini-mädel (a short podcast) about The Bone Church in Sedlec, a suburb of Kutná Hora near Prague, which Jen describes as ‘macabre, disturbing, oddly beautiful’, fascinating.

 

Filming - Street Art by Plotterrobotter KEN in Berlin

There have also been some magic moments on film.

In A Berlin Minute

From night to day, through moody skies and back to night again, I love this time-lapse video of the Berlin skyline, with the Fernsehturm prominent of course. Keep an eye out for the Die Welt balloon bouncing up and down to the Fernsehturm’s right.

 

Little Big Berlin

The Little Big Berlin video by pilpop is a masterpiece of the tilt-shift technique that makes real scenes look like miniature model creations.

 

Hitler’s Hidden City

I was delighted to discover this National Geographic documentary on YouTube a few days ago.  Hitler’s Hidden City follows Berliner Unterwelten as they discover what lies below the surface of Berlin.

 

Vermibus Process

Showing the artist at work, Verminbus Process, gives a behind-the-scenes glimpse of ad-busting art on the streets of Berlin.

 

Berlin Spricht Für Sich

The third incarnation of a series by Emus Primus x East Cross Projects combining two of my passions Street Art and music, Berlin Spricht Für Sich has been all over my social media channels in the last week.  Witty and catchy, I dare you not to like it.

 

Love, Sax & Music - Street Art by Unknown Artist in Berlin

And completing my round-up some more music.

Michael Kiwanuka – Tell Me A Tale

I was delighted to recognise Berlin’s streets and U-Bahn tracks in the video from the BBC Sound of 2012 winner: Michael Kiwanuka.

 

Depeche Mode – Everything Counts

I originally came across the video to Depeche Mode – Everything Counts, set in Berlin, on the wonderful Kreuzberg’d but GEMA has now blocked the video included in that post so I’ve had to find an alternative link.

 

Me & My Drummer – You’re A Runner

A recent discovery, I love this song from a Berlin-based band: Me & My Drummer.

 

Art On A Crumbling Canvas: Papierfabrik Wolfswinkel

Multi-coloured Yawn: Street Art by Kim Köster at Papierfabrik Wolfswinkel near Berlin

I would have loved Papierfabrik Wolfswinkel, an abandoned paper mill near Berlin, for the architecture, the atmosphere and the sense of history, but finding the walls daubed with Street Art was the icing on the cake.

When I suggested to Digital Cosmonaut and Irish Berliner (the man behind Abandoned Berlin) that we visit the disused paper factory in Wolfswinkel, I was thinking about the opportunity of capturing the dereliction, the industrial relics and the varying light conditions. And I got to do that, as you can see here.

Finding colourful Street Art (or maybe that should be Urban Art given that it wasn’t on the street) on many of the walls was a real bonus.  And there was so much of it that I felt it needed a post of its own.

The cover photo on this post was in the first room we looked into and it was a taste of things to come.

Kim Köster

After many hours on the internet trying to find the artist’s name I now think that much of the art at Papierfabrik Wolfswinkel is the work of Kim Köster.  If anyone can confirm that, or put me right, I’d be very grateful.

Worshipping The Light: Street Art by Kim Köster at Papierfabrik Wolfswinkel near Berlin

It wasn’t just the quality of the artwork that impressed me about the artist’s work. The placement was also spot on – many of the pieces interacted with their surroundings, as the best Street Art should.

Perched: Street Art by Kim Köster at Papierfabrik Wolfswinkel near Berlin

Big Foot: Street Art by Kim Köster at Papierfabrik Wolfswinkel near Berlin

Bird Ride: Street Art by Kim Köster at Papierfabrik Wolfswinkel near Berlin

Monster Swing: Street Art by Kim Köster at Papierfabrik Wolfswinkel near Berlin

Shadows were a key feature in a number of the pieces but at times the real genius was a combination of the clever placement and these shadows.  The artist had incorporated the light and shadow of the surroundings into the art, which I first noticed with the shadow below the hammock in the next piece, cast by the pillar from which the hammock was ‘strung’ (note the hammock is painted on a wall some way back from the pillars).

Hammock Time: Street Art by Kim Köster at Papierfabrik Wolfswinkel near Berlin

Blinded By The Sun: Street Art by Kim Köster at Papierfabrik Wolfswinkel near Berlin

The Birdman of Wolfswinkel: Street Art by Kim Köster at Papierfabrik Wolfswinkel near Berlin

Back To The Mothership: Street Art by Kim Köster at Papierfabrik Wolfswinkel near Berlin

I also saw a piece that I believe is by the same artist in the chapel at Kaserne Krampnitz, though I wasn’t able to get a decent picture because of a lack of light.

If you like the artist’s work, you should check out his website and I would recommend checking out his 99 Rooms project – incredible.

Unknown Artists

Not all of the art at Papierfabrik Wolfswinkel was by Kim Köster though.  There was plenty of other great art.  I haven’t been able to identify the artist for some of these next pieces so if anyone has any info please let me know in the comments so I can give the proper credit.

Tall Blue Man: Street Art by Unknown Artist at Papierfabrik Wolfswinkel near Berlin

The Tongue: Street Art by Unknown Artist at Papierfabrik Wolfswinkel near Berlin

Going To See The Boss: Street Art by Unknown Artist at Papierfabrik Wolfswinkel near Berlin

This piece Para Siempre (Forever) was a tableau of skulls.

Para Siempre: Street Art by Unknown Artist at Papierfabrik Wolfswinkel near Berlin

Till Death Do Us Part: Street Art by Unknown Artist at Papierfabrik Wolfswinkel near Berlin

Bucket Skull: Street Art by Unknown Artist at Papierfabrik Wolfswinkel near Berlin

There was a selection of Graffiti as well as the Street Art.

No Facebook No Blackbook: Graffiti by Unknown Artist at Papierfabrik Wolfswinkel near Berlin

Ein Herz Für Kinder Sind Unsere Zukunft!: Graffiti by Unknown Artist at Papierfabrik Wolfswinkel near Berlin

The Wild Wild East: Graffiti by Unknown Artist at Papierfabrik Wolfswinkel near Berlin

Remy Uno

I liked this playful piece by Marseille-based artist Remy Uno, proof that the eyes are the window to the soul.

Spectacles: Street Art by Remy Uno at Papierfabrik Wolfswinkel near Berlin

EVOL

Plattenbauten: Street Art by EVOL at Papierfabrik Wolfswinkel near Berlin

And finally, I have managed to find an EVOL in (or at least near) Berlin having seen my first Plattenbauten by the artist in London recently.

If you like Urban Exploration (Urbex) and you’re ever in Berlin, you should definitely head out of the city and check out the Papierfabrik Wolfswinkel – it’s well worth the trip for that alone.  If you’ve also got an interest in Street Art it’s a no-brainer – go tomorrow.

Papierfabrik Wolfswinkel: Exploring An Abandoned Paper Mill

Art and Light at Papierfabrik Wolfswinkel, an abandoned paper mill near Berlin

Papierfabrik Wolfswinkel is a disused paper mill about an hour from Berlin by train and bus (including waiting for connections) and an urbex enthusiast’s wet dream.

Last week I met up with a couple of fellow Berliners eager to explore Berlin’s past through its abandoned buildings – Digital Cosmonaut and Irish Berliner of Abandoned Berlin.

You can see Digital Cosmonaut’s post about our adventure here.

After a couple of false starts due to the unsettled weather we decided to head to Eberswalde to check out Papierfabrik Wolfswinkel, which I first heard about when Sherry of Ottsworld took a Photo tour there during her time in Berlin as a guest blogger for Go With Oh.

The outside of Papierfabrik Wolfswinkel, an abandoned paper mill near Berlin and artwork by EVOL

The abandoned paper factory at Wolfswinkel was built in 1762 and is listed as a Baudenkmal – recognition that it is a building of historic importance.

The district of Barnim has a long tradition of paper production dating back to the 1530s and at one time the mills in the area were responsible for the production of all of the paper used by the Deutsches Reich for the printing of banknotes.  Another mill in the area, Papierfabrik Spechthausen, produced the paper used to create the counterfeit pound notes for Operation Bernhard – an attempt to destabilise the British economy during the Second World War.

In 1956, Papierfabrik Wolfswinkel took over the production of a famous handcrafted paper with a woodpecker watermark when the Papierfabrik Spechthausen was acquisitioned by the army.

Unfortunately, the paper factory like many of Berlin’s abandoned buildings was a victim of German reunification.  Paper production ceased in 1992, though it seems some stock still exists and the former owner has opened a paper museum on the site.

Now, the factory is not a lot more than a shell.

Watershed at Papierfabrik Wolfswinkel, an abandoned paper mill near Berlin

Pillars and Windows at Papierfabrik Wolfswinkel, an abandoned paper mill near Berlin

Door and Reflection at Papierfabrik Wolfswinkel, an abandoned paper mill near Berlin

Looking out on the river at Papierfabrik Wolfswinkel, an abandoned paper mill near Berlin

Sloped Ceiling at Papierfabrik Wolfswinkel, an abandoned paper mill near Berlin

Missing Roof Papierfabrik Wolfswinkel, an abandoned paper mill near Berlin

Here and there though there are some reminders of it’s industrial past in the machinery, vats and pipework that remain.

Machinery at Papierfabrik Wolfswinkel, an abandoned paper mill near Berlin

Giant Cog at Papierfabrik Wolfswinkel, an abandoned paper mill near Berlin

Vats at Papierfabrik Wolfswinkel, an abandoned paper mill near Berlin

Quellbütte at Papierfabrik Wolfswinkel, an abandoned paper mill near Berlin

Pipework at Papierfabrik Wolfswinkel, an abandoned paper mill near Berlin

And the various signs and writing on the walls.

Pressure Measurements at Papierfabrik Wolfswinkel, an abandoned paper mill near Berlin

Vorratsbütte (Storage chest) at Papierfabrik Wolfswinkel, an abandoned paper mill near Berlin

Writing On The Wall at Papierfabrik Wolfswinkel, an abandoned paper mill near Berlin

There was also a wealth of art throughout the building – so much that I will devote a whole post to it.

Entering one of the buildings we stopped in our tracks when we heard what we first thought was machinery running.  Having decided to carry on towards the source of the noise we were surprised to find it was water gushing from a stream outside and through the building.

It was obvious as we were wandering around that some of the buildings are in use and ironically, as we started to think of going home we came across someone at the perimeter of the grounds who could tell from the way we were sneaking around that we didn’t have permission to be there.  But much to our surprise, rather than telling us to leave, he told us that we should have reported ourselves when we arrived and to let him know when we were leaving.  It seems that visitors are allowed at the site but in the interests of safety and in attempt to curb vandalism the owners like to know who is there.

Caravans at Papierfabrik Wolfswinkel, an abandoned paper mill near Berlin

The one disappointment of the day was that it wasn’t possible to climb the tower we had seen from the outside of the building.

The ladder that had presumably run up the inside of the tower had been removed.  Climbing the pipework inside wouldn’t have got us very far so we had to be content with looking up into the empty space.

Looking Up The Tower at Papierfabrik Wolfswinkel, an abandoned paper mill near Berlin

But that was only a minor irritation after roaming around freely in the rest of the buildings.

Even a sudden downpour as we left and made our way to the nearest bus stop couldn’t dampen my spirits.  I had enjoyed exploring the abandoned Papierfabrik Wolfswinkel so much that wet jeans clinging to my thighs on the journey home was a small price to pay.