Whenever we travel around Europe, we see the skeleton of abandoned gasworks. But the Schöneberg Gasometer has this uniqueness to it since it feels like it’s still integrated into the landscape of the city. You pass by it around Haupstrasse or taking the S-Bahn, and it’s always there, in the corner of your eye.
We have been observing the Schöneberg Gasometer for a few years now, waiting for the right moment to visit it. It seemed like this would never happen until July 2020, when I got a message from Abandoned Berlin telling me they booked one of the English speaking tours there. It was time to pack the cameras and face our fear of heights and climb all the way to the top.
Standing almost 80 meters high, this was a challenging climb, but it was more than worth it based on the pictures we took there. But before we talk about our climb and how you can book one, we have to tell you a bit about the history behind the Schöneberg Gasometer.
A Brief History of the Gasometer in Schöneberg
Built by the Berlin-Anhaltische Maschinenbau AG, the Schöneberg Gasometer was put together between 1908 and 1910. At the time, it was one of the most massive gas containers in Europe. It managed to survive both World Wars and the Cold War that followed and split Berlin into two different cities. Placed under monument protection back in 1994. It was only decommissioned in 1995 with its rusted frame.
This structure is difficult to explain, but the Schöneberg Gasometer consists of a steel guide frame and a flexible enclosure that could be raised and lowered to adjust the amount of gas. This rising apparatus could be seen from, pretty much, anywhere in that side of Berlin and served as a powerful visual indicator of the amount of gas available.
This expandable chamber was built over what we could describe as a water pool that would block the gas from leaving the structure. Nowadays, this doesn’t exist anymore since the Schöneberg Gasometer isn’t working as it used to. Now, the location can be booked for events, and we didn’t manage to visit it.
The steel structure that remains in place is made of numerous rings that go up to the top. From those, you can walk all around the design, the higher you go, the better the view of Berlin around you. But there is a problem here for some. Since this building is made of open steel grating, it can be hard to walk over them without looking down. It can be thrilling to some and scary for others. For us, it was both.
Today’s use of the Schöneberg Gasometer
The Schöneberg Gasometer was put into monument protection in 1994, but that doesn’t mean that it has to be kept in the way it is now. In 2007, the whole place was bought, and construction started into what you can see around the structure today.
There is a neighborhood movement around the gasometer to stop any plans to build something inside the steel grid. Still, it seems that this resistance is not winning. In March 2020, there was a building application submission that would create office space in the gasometer. Nobody knows, for now, if this will get approved, but this was the main reason we decided to finally explore the Schöneberg Gasometer.
We don’t know how long we will be able to climb the steel stairs into the top of Schöneberg and enjoy the view from there. It might be the case that the summer of 2020 was its last season open to the public. Maybe, this will only be available for those who can afford to buy the office space there in the future. Too bad.
The 360º view from the Schöneberg Gasometer is exciting. It allows you to observe a part of Berlin that isn’t covered in tall buildings and has a piece of our heart since David Bowie used to live around the corner and it’s close to where Marlene Dietrich was born. From there, you can clearly see the Rathaus Schöneberg, where Kennedy gave the speech made famous by “Ich bin ein Berliner.” On the other side, you can see the buildings around Potsdamer Platz and the Sony Center, Alexanderplatz and the TV Tower, and the vast Tempelhofer Feld. In the distance, you can see Teufelsberg alone on a hill.
How to book guided tours on the Gasometer in Schöneberg
The Schöneberg Gasometer is closed to the general public. If you want to climb to the top of Berlin, you have to book one of the many guided tours that are offered in German and English. Tours are limited to the warmer months since the structure is susceptible to strong winds and weather changes.
The tour does not occur in the event of rain or thunderstorms since it’s not safe to climb an 80-meter steel tower in an event like that. If the sun is shining, you can mount it wearing sturdy shoes and a jacket. To know more about the tours, you can visit this.
Schöneberg Gasometer: Climbing the Skeleton of Abandoned Gasworks