Abandoned Places

Dread and Circuses: The Sad Story Of Spreepark Berlin

An amusement park, by its definition, is a place of joy, breaking boundaries, fun, and adrenaline. When the park is abandoned and ceases to be active, for one reason or another, the scenery may be completely different. Berlin’s abandoned amusement park, Spreepark, is one of the most chilling examples of a place that has completely changed its skin due to extraordinary historical developments. A park that manages to be fascinating and sad at the same time. Meet one of the abonadend places in Berlin, and surely one of the creepiest.

The Slow Fall Of Spreepark Berlin

Once, a few decades ago, Spreepark in Berlin was one of the pearls of Berlin. It was established in 1969 in the southeastern part of Berlin, between the river of the same name and the Planterwald forest, as part of the celebrations to mark the 20th anniversary of East Berlin. It was the only one of its kind at the time: not only in Berlin itself but in East Germany as a whole.

The spacious park spread over about 300 dunams and offered diverse attractions for all members of the family, so it was visited by about 1.6 million visitors every year. He took part in German propaganda, in the form of “friendship shows” held in cooperation with countries that belonged to the Soviet Union at the time.

The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1969 changed the rules and became a sad turning point. In 1991, after the fall of the walls, a tender was held in which seven players competed for running the park. At the end of the tender, which later turned out to be very sloppy, Spreepark Berlin GmbH was chosen to take the job.

The company wanted to take advantage of the opening of the borders to increase the potential audience of visitors.  Spreepark amusement park was westernized, while the company built new areas and facilities. For example, they replaced the asphalt around the giant wheel with a water surface, added roller coasters and other rides, built an amphitheater with a daily stunt show, and even built a “village” in a typical English design. The payment method was also changed: instead of a price for each attraction separately and free entrance to the park, it was decided on an entrance Spreepark ticket that bundles all the rides. At some point, the price of Spreepark Berlin tickets also went up.

Spreepark Berlin swan song
Spreepark Berlin swan song

Spreepark Berlin’s: Vision VS Reality

At first, it worked. But the high entrance fee and the lack of parking (the authorities prohibited adding parking spaces in the area declared for conservation) led to a decrease in the number of visitors. In 2001, for example, only about 400,000 people visited here. If you take into account the expenses that have swelled over the years, the end seems very close.

Contributing to the mismanagement was the fact that the owner of Spreepark Berlin GmbH, Norbert Witte, lacked management experience of this magnitude. he only managed by then single installations at traveling fairs, and not with much success. In one case, a fatal accident occurred at a fair under his management that looks like something out of the movie “Final Destination”: a crane sent to repair a fault in the roller coaster fell, hitting a nearby carousel, killing seven people and injuring 15 others. Later it turned out that during the period in which it was in operation, facilities in Spreepark were also in a bad condition, so it seems that an accident of this type was only a matter of time.


The place was closed to visitors in 2001, and shortly after the company declared bankruptcy. Vita himself fled to Peru together with his family members and co-workers. He moved six of the park’s facilities into about 20 containers. Vita’s version, which the authorities accepted, was that the facilities were sent for “renovation” purposes. In practice, of course, the goal was to avoid the creditors who were already knocking on Vita’s doors. When the debts reached about 11 million euros, he tried desperately to reduce them with the help of a huge drug deal. He smuggled about 167 kg of cocaine inside one of the facilities that were returned to Germany.

However, the smuggling attempt was discovered. In 2004, Vita was arrested. He eventually received a reduced sentence, also because he suffered from heart problems. He was sentenced to seven years in prison for attempting to smuggle cocaine worth around £14 million and got released after four years. Wits’ son, Marcel, was jailed for 20 years for the same offense.

Berlin Spreepark kids train
Kids train at Spreepark Berlin. No more tours

Horror And Fun: When Nature Takes Over

Berlin Spreepark has known good days, no doubt. From the moment he stopped being active and became abandoned, the picture changed completely. A dense forest began to take over, in some cases between this Berlin abandoned amusement park’s facilities or even on top of them.

Similar to the famous and abandoned Ferris wheel of ghost town Pripyat, which is perhaps the main visual image of the disaster that the town went through following the Chernobyl explosion, here too one of the tangible manifestations of the enormous story is Spreepark ferris wheel which is about 45 meters high, which was the main attraction in the park. It even underwent a significant upgrade in 1989, to mark the 40th anniversary of the Socialist Republic. Since its closure, however, it has remained abandoned with the surrounding area turning wild more than every year. As far as we understand, the wheel was dismantled in 2021 for possible future use of its parts, but that doesn’t mean the horror has left abandoned Spreepark Berlin.

In spreepark amusement park you can find today abandoned facilities of all kinds that create a creepy setting: an abandoned children’s carousel, a pool covered with leaves, masses of frogs who have made the water slides their home, what’s left of Spreepark Jurassic Park dinosaurs decorated with graffiti standing motionless or a roller coaster, in the form of a monster, which is almost completely covered by bushes.

Roller coaster in Spreepark, Berlin abandoned amusement park
Occupied by nature. Spreepark Berlin’s roller coaster

Spreepark Tours: A Weird Experience

In 2011, organized tours of Berlin’s abandoned amusement park began. Spreepark tour seems like an unusual experience: how many times have you seen children playing among abandoned facilities, riding an adventure train in a park that nature has taken over, or even buying ice cream at a stand set up in the park for these purposes? Spreepark guided tours were discontinued a few years later. At about the same time, they also built a fence around the rusty facilities.

At a time when more and more people are looking for unusual tourist places, including abandoned ones, this is not enough. Over the years, and since there are no loger “official” option to take Spreepark Berlin guided tour, an alternative tourism has developed around Berlin abandoned amusement park. Quite a few people come to it every day illegally, because it turns out that even today Berlin has walls that you can jump over quite easily and patrols that you can try to avoid. Next to the “Dark Tourism” In a place that reminds you more than anything you only see in apocalyptic movies, many photographers, musicians and other artists from the famous Berlin scene want to visit Spreepark Berlin. In fact, you can find the Spreepark Art Space, combining artworks, educational programmes and other relevant activities.

Will The Dead SpreePark Be Resurrected?

There are quite a few scary places in Berlin. Some of them were established in advance as tourist attractions, which may make part of the city’s complicated story accessible to the visitors who frequent it – a successful example of this is the Berlin dungeon, which we have already reviewed on the site. The problem is places where the grim reality has become threatening. Berlin’s abandoned amusement park has all the potential to be a horror movie on screen as well, and not just in reality.

As far as we know, he didn’t get to star in the center of a horror film, but you could see him in the center of one of the action scenes in the 2011 action film “Hannah” in which a young woman (Saoirse Ronan), who was trained from a young age by her father (a former CIA agent, played by Eric Bana) embarks on a bloody revenge mission following her mother’s killers. She moves between several locations across Europe, including the abandoned park.

Over the years, there have been several attempts to revive Spreepark in Berlin – Likewise other Berlin abandoned places. In 2014, the state of Berlin offered the park for sale – via the Internet, believe it or not – but was unable to find a company to buy it. A large fire that broke out at the site shortly after and further destroyed what remained of the facilities, apparently as a result of deliberate arson, closed the door on the attempts to sell to a company that would breathe life into life.

The good news is that you can be encouraged. In 2018, the municipality of Berlin presented an ambitious plan to reopen the park and integrate cultural and ecological content into it. Over time, a website was opened for the renewed park, which will be a kind of “green space for the residents that harmoniously combines art, culture, and nature with the rich history of the place”. The site also indicates the intention to re-establish, in updated versions, some of the Berlin abandoned amusement park’s original facilities – including, as mentioned, Spreepark ferris wheel.

Spreepark ferris wheel. Will it rise again?
Berlin Spreepark’s Giant Wheel. Will it rise again?

The question we all have to ask is when exactly this is likely to occur. The original plan was for the opening in its current version to be in 2022, but it seems that is still very far away. It is assumed that Spreepark visit will not happen before 2026, as the official schedule also indicates. German efficiency can also ensure that it does happen. On the other hand, the story of Berlin Spreepark shows that nothing is certain. It is very possible that the park that once knew wonderful days will continue to be abandoned for many years to come, one of the sad reminders of Berlin’s challenging history.




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