When entering a borderland of human civilization and natural wildness the own intentions and angles of view obviously do quickly change as more imminent primordial ambitions dominate the mind automatically while the gates and windows of such an extraordinary place are widely opened in order to nourish the secondary surrounding forests.
A rather dreamy place worth a visit is the former rehabilitation centre Beelitz Heilstätten near Berlin in Germany. It is a vast area of varied buildings being constructed in the early 20th century with a quite modern concept for healing and recovery.
After WW II it was seized by the Soviet Red Army which left Germany and this area in 1994. Nobody felt responsible for the place afterwards or had an idea for further use so nature took over control quite easily.
Some years ago the place was changed into some kind of openair museum, and a long freestanding bridge was built for viewing the amazing ruins from the very height which requires however the payment of an entrance fee.
In fact this site in Berlin comprises one of the most weird locations which I have visualized and explored so far. What I am showing here is however not at all comprehensive as this huge premises tends to be more a wild industrial labyrinth of ruins in continuous change, a real adventure playground with varied looks and diverse risky ambitions.
The place is better known under its original name Flughafen Johannisthal and was in use as an airport until the early 50s of the last century. Being situated in the Eastern part of Berlin the facilities were then changed to a huge industrial production area of cooling devices by the administration of the former German Democratic Republic being called VEB Kühlomat. After the unification of Germany this industrial site was closed in the early 90s of the last century and set into a deep sleep till today.
I have visited the strange place in early September for a couple of hours and therefore only seen a part of the endless technical jungle where nature tries to cover all again quite quickly. Everywhere debris is lying in the way like thoughtful obstacles but more dangerous are unexpected holes in the grounds and the poor condition of the halls, hangars and buildings where several fires have occured in the recent years such making the site not safer and a bit spooky in general.
So when loafing around this particular enchanted place several nervous and insisting noises always accompanied me on my obscure way so as if the ground was mourning and complaining about its fate – groaning wooden beams, dissolving walls and a curious sharp wind drifting around the next dilapidated corner leading to a contradictional but pure amazement overall.
The fabulous site attracts a lot of creative people as an open and free space for their multiple ambitions in the sector of murals and graffiti. And it is fascinating to realize how a little bit of colour can change a place of decay to something else and again completely new.
You may still find quite a lot of places like this in the German capital but the number is anyhow decreasing. So it is also not clear how long this site will exist in its actual shape furtheron because the building of new houses with urgent required appartments is planned here by the city for 2021.
If you intend stepping into this labyrinth, it may be found in Berlin-Treptow at Segelfliegerdamm. You have only to look for options in order to cross the fence, such opportunities are always available somewhere.
“In 1519 Hernan Cortez, the great Spanish conquistador stormed and took the city of Mexico-Tenochtitlan. He did not then, and he never knew, that it was built upon the ruins of the Mayan civilization. Five years later he travelled across what is now the little republic of Honduras, hacking his way foot by foot through an almost impenetrable forest given over to reptiles and insects and the odours of putrefaction. Had he turned aside from the path he was cutting, by only a fraction, he would have come to a little stream where he would have found in the midst of all this luxuriant foliage the ruins of what had once been a great city. It was the city of Copan, the chief light amongst others such as Tikal or Palenque of the Mayan civilization which existed between A.D. 176 and A.D. 620. They are still, far from all other human habitations, lost in the powerful tropical forest which like some sylvan boa-constrictor, has literally swallowed them up and is now devouring them at its leisure, prising the finehewn, close-laid stones apart with its writhing roots and tendrils.”
John Stewart Collis in “The Vision of Glory, The extraordinary Nature of the Ordinary”
In the desert nearly everywhere you easily risk to loose your way in a more or less forbidden zone vanished in the unpredictable stream of time. Here or there does not really matter distinctively because a lost place like this offers a special poetry of past developments and decay, sometimes a bit dangerous but in any case thrilling and amazing.
Since the times of the Romantic people are fascinated by such forgotten locations like old church ruins or dilapidated castles scattered over the countries. Certainly these are objects and artefacts without use, hence not useless at all while this confrontation with the past opens a wide space for dreams of another future.
The deindustrialization of modern metropoles has nowadays created a lot of postmodern ruins like closed factories from the 19th century or no longer required railway facilities. But nature covers again very quickly also former military installations with impenetrable thickets and trees. Legacies of former inhabitants and colorful tags of passers-by can there be found anyway.
By first glance such places seem to be a dead-end leading to nowhere and it takes some energy to find a secure path sometimes, however astonishingly people leave even here professions of profound love in a wild maze of pure neglection.
Thanks for following this short expedition to the contemporary abysmal maelstroms of daily life – to be continued.