When in Berlin, tourists flock to the East Side Gallery to see remnants of the Wall as well as vibrant graffiti art. Interesting, perhaps, but the place has also become a tourist trap where no native Berliners dare to tread. The traffic sound and exhaust fumes alone don’t make for a pleasant walk.
If you’re interested in the local graffiti scene, you’d be much better off heading over to Natur-Park Schöneberger Südgelände. Located at the southern tip of Schöneberg, Südgelände Park is tucked away at the start of Berlin’s sleepy bourgeois suburbs along the S-1 s-bahn line. But don’t let that fool you. This park is a hidden gem for industrial history buffs and graffiti art aficionados alike.
Graffiti artists, or “sprayers” as they’re called in German, are allowed to create as they please on the old industrial walls and tunnels on Tälchenweg—the park is on the grounds of the former Tempelhof train yard—from 3 p.m. until the park closes at dusk, Monday to Saturday. The only rules are no tagging trees, benches, or other buildings and leave no cans, buckets, or other litter behind. I saw a few birches sprayed suspiciously pink in places, but for the most part it looked like people were following the rules. Anyone is allowed to spray or tag there, so bring your gear if you’re so inclined, or simply watch the masters and wanna-bes at work.
Graffiti aside, the park itself provides a fascinating glimpse into old, industrial Berlin as well as the demise of the train age. Closed down slowly after the Second World War, the buildings and tracks were left to the elements. As you wander along the trail, you see countless train tracks swallowed up by weeds and devoured by moss.
I somehow missed the 4000 sqare meter Lokhalle (locomotive hall), which means I’ll be taking a trip out there again sometime and also keep my eye out for any events held there (the Christmas market is probably really cool). It’s always great when an old time “Wahlberliner” like myself makes a new discovery in the city!
Natur-Park Schöneberger Südgelände is located directly at the S-1 (pink line) station Priesterweg.
The park is open every day from 9 a.m. til dusk
Park entry costs 1.00€ (but is more than worth the price!) Pay at the machine at the entrance, but be sure to use exact amount because the machine does not give change. Children 14 and under can enter the park for free.