After the railway operation at the Tempelhof marshalling yard, which was completed in 1889, was discontinued in 1952, nature gradually reclaimed the terrain of today’s Südgelände Park. Valuable dry grasslands, tall shrub fields and an unspoiled forest emerged from the railway desert – without the influence of man. When plans to reactivate the freight yard became known in the 1970s, nature lovers had already discovered the astonishing diversity of species on the site and campaigned for their preservation as a citizens’ initiative. As early as 1999, large parts of the site were declared a landscape and nature reserve. Today there are a large number of rare and endangered animals and plants at the Naturpark Südgelände (as is its official name).
When we told our friends that we decided to go to “Südgelände” nobody knew what we were talking about. It doesn’t matter how long you live in this city, your knowledge and your interest will likely go as far as the Ring and rarely beyond. And as a matter of fact, Südgelände is located a few meters outside of the Ring. So we took a day trip to this enchanted jungle forest.
Südgelände: Industrial Jungle Park
Even if no trains have been running here for a long time, the history of the site remains present through the relics of the railway era. The old class 50 steam locomotive is particularly popular with young and old. The water required for this was supplied by the 50-metre-high steel water tower, the park’s landmark. Numerous water cranes, light poles, rail lines and switches also commemorate the railway’s history. One of the oldest hubs in Germany is also part of the park’s inventory. However, the two old buildings are bigger and most important witnesses of the past. The Brückenmeisterei now houses a café on the ground floor and the park administration on the upper floor.
The nature park Südgelände has been designated as a nature and landscape conservation area in large parts since 1999. The nature reserve can be crossed on a metal footbridge supported on iron pipes, which largely follows a former railway line. Here you can experience the different development phases of the forest as well as the extensive open spaces.
We found the whole walk on the guided paths extremely romantic and quaint. It’s a perfect autumn Spaziergang and quite different from the usual excursions I’ve taken in Berlin.