Tempelhof opened 8th October 1923 and ceased operations on 30th October 2008. The old terminal was originally constructed in 1927. In anticipation of increasing air traffic, the Nazi government began a massive reconstruction in the mid-1930s. The main building was once among the top 20 largest buildings on Earth.
On 20 June 1948, Soviet authorities, claiming technical difficulties, halted all traffic by land and by water into or out of the Western-controlled sectors of Berlin. Faced with the choice of abandoning the city or attempting to supply its inhabitants with the necessities of life by air, the Western Powers chose the latter course, and for the next eleven months sustained the city’s 2½ million residents in one of the greatest feats in aviation history – The Berlin Airlift.
The former airfield is now used as a huge recreational space known as Tempelhofer Feld. The airport buildings are largely abandoned, although there are a few tenants who rent space there.
We purchased two tour tickets online https://www.thf-berlin.de/fuehrungen/english-guided-tours/ for €15,00 per ticket. We had less than an hour to get to Templehof from our earlier Dark Worlds Bunker Tour and arrived 20 minutes late to find the tour office closed and no sign of the tour. There were four doors leading to a corridor – luckily one was unlocked and we went inside.
We walked to the end of the corridor, only to find more doors, all of those were locked. Two thirds of the way down the corridor was a door that opened with steps down to the airfield. We went down, walked to the next set of steps, back up and found the door open – we were now on the other side of the locked corridor doors. There was still no sign of the tour, but it was great fun finding our way around without a tour guide.
We found ourselves in the huge deserted terminal building – an amazing space.
We climbed upstairs for a better view.
We found the doors to the stairwells were open, but once through there was no way back. It was then that the tour appeared – we walked back down and joined them.
The tour guide didn’t immediately notice two extra members. However, others on the tour wore green wristbands and a few minutes later the guide realised ours were missing. She asked if we were part of the tour and I said that we were, had arrived late and showed our tickets. “How did you get in here?” – I didn’t explain our entire journey, just that the door was open. “But you don’t have a green wristband!”. I replied that we did have tickets, but would be happy to continue wandering around on our own. We were invited to remain on the tour.
The tour continued, slowly and included a lot of stair climbing.
The tour was a little boring, especially after the excitement of our self-guided adventure – but at least we knew that we’d be able to leave and not be arrested!
We discovered that we’d missed a trip to the roof of the building – I’m sure that would have been great. What was interesting was how you could go out a door on one level and feel like it was ground level, then walk down a few flights of stairs and repeat.
If you just wanted to view the airport from outside, you could just turn up and wander around. To see the inside and the roof, you’ll need a ticket – if you’re accidentally late, just try a few doors!
Platz der Luftbrücke 5
Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday 1:30 pm
and Thursday (August and September) 1:30 pm
Duration of the tour: 2 hours
Adult: 15,00 €
Students: 10,00 €
Children (6-14 years): 7,00 €
+49 30 200 03 74-41 – although I called this number from the taxi while we were stuck in traffic and just got a voicemail in German