Spreepark – from a “Lost Place” to a new type of park

The former VEB Kulturpark Plänterwald (state-owned Plänterwald cultural park) was one of the GDR’s most important leisure attractions, one that still holds personal memories for many people. It opened in 1969 as the “Kulturpark Plänterwald” for the GDR’s 20th anniversary. Situated right on the River Spree, it was the only leisure park in the GDR. After an eventful history, the park, now renamed Spreepark, closed in 2001. In 2002 the site was fenced in and sank into a deep torpor, becoming a “Sleeping Beauty”. Until the State of Berlin bought it in 2014, the site, buildings and remaining amusement park rides on it were falling into disrepair. The Spreepark was left to itself and nature reclaimed many areas of it.

In 2016 Grün Berlin GmbH was made responsible for the roughly 25-hectare site. Its remit is to develop and create a high quality cultural usage and operational concept that will attract tourists, be appropriate for this vulnerable space, and revive the historic “Eierhäuschen” restaurant and coffee house as a major drawcard for visitors seeking relaxation. Artistic and cultural attractions involving the local creative scene are among those envisaged so far. The aim will be to define new formats and integrate them into the park while preserving the place’s particular charm. One major concern will be highlighting the former amusement park’s historic relics and restoring its 40-metre-high Ferris wheel. Its special location on the River Spree will make it possible to link the park with waterways tourism and leisure shipping in future.

Before people can visit the Spreepark though, it needs to be made safe for the public. Its many dangers, dilapidated buildings, amusement park rides and potential pitfalls must be repaired or removed and old waste and contaminants disposed of. Only then will it be possible to offer tours of the park.