What you need to know about Tempelhof-Schöneberg
On today’s Tempelhofer Feld, locals and visitors gather to enjoy the vast spaces of this inner city park. Once this was the site of the airport where the Candy Bombers landed during the Berlin blockade and cheering crowds greeted John F. Kennedy and the Beatles. Today, the former apron and runways attract skateboarders, kite land boarders and cyclists, as well as kite flyers, mini-golfers and juggers. This spreading green urban space, comparable in size to New York’s Central Park, includes around six acres reserved for picnics and barbecues – so there’s plenty of room for your BBQ as well!
If you prefer unspoilt nature in a unique setting, head for the Südgelände nature park. Established on an old switchyard, the park offers an unusual blend of nature and the remains of the steam engine era where you can stroll through the jungle-like forest and marvel at the park’s impressive flora and fauna. Heading south, the borough has an array of parks, large and small – little oases where you can stroll or read, and children can play.
The district's history
Down the years, Tempelhof-Schöneberg has seen a lot of changes – and is packed with history and stories. The south, for example, is home to the Marienfelde Refugee Center Museum on the history of German division and flight from East Germany as well as the Monopol housing estate from the early 1920s, and the former Askania factory which produced precision instruments. To the west, you can walk through the former Jewish neighbourhood around Bayerischer Platz, once home to such luminaries as Albert Einstein and Erich Fromm. At Schöneberg Town Hall, you can view the balcony where, in June 1963, US President John F Kennedy uttered the immortal words: “Ich bin ein Berliner” (“I am a Berliner”). Other sites include the Schwerbelastungskörper – literally a “heavy load-bearing body” – and the historical St. Matthäus Kirchhof cemetery where the Grimm Brothers and Rudolf Virchow are buried... and the list of fascinating places just goes on!
Tempelhof-Schöneberg has also attracted many renowned figures – leaving many amusing and bizarre anecdotes behind. Schöneberg in particular, the coolest location for upmarket artists in western Berlin, was home to the great and the good in literature, the arts and politics. The roll call of those once living here is headed by such world-famous figures as Marlene Dietrich, David Bowie, Günter Grass, Kurt Tucholsky and Erich Kästner, and also includes Harry Frommermann, the founder of the Comedian Harmonists, German critic Friedrich Luft, and the satirist and comedian Werner Finck. The German critical realist artist Hans Baluschek (1870 – 1935) was also given a studio in the Ceciliengärten estate in Friedenau in honour of his work in the arts. Nobel Literature laureate Günther Grass, who lived in Friedenau for over twelve years in the 1960s and 70s, described the district as a place of apartment blocks and old town houses full of nooks and crannies. He also praised the twice-weekly market at the town hall, the bars and shady beer gardens – a character the neighbourhood still retains today.
From the Roaring Twenties to home of the LGBTI community
Schöneberg’s tradition of nightlife with bars and restaurants goes back to the Roaring Twenties, when the district was also home to the Scala theatre, the best known variety theatre of its day. The Winterfeldplatz square area is still renowned for its vibrantly diverse nightlife, and as the soul of Berlin’s gay and lesbian stomping grounds. Here, the rainbow flag can be seen proudly flying on balconies or as a sticker on the doors and windows of cafés, bars, nightclubs, hairdressers and bookshops welcoming the LGBTI community.