End of the line for the railroad yard
The only trains left at the Güterbahnhof Pankow are the trains of thought. Even the tracks are gone, taken away lest the carriages that once trundled through feel like trundling through again. Yes, their trundling days are over, and the surviving buildings mourn their absence even as they crumble and fade into the ignominy of abandonment.
Now the ones that remain are hollow and empty inside, starved of the hustle and bustle they crave, denied their lifeblood of freight cars coming to be loaded. How they must long for their trains!
The S-Bahn still whizzes by from time to time, stopping next door at S-Bahnhof Pankow-Heinersdorf with all its bells and whistles, but that only makes it worse for the once-proud Güterbahnhof, as it looks over with disdain fueled by the jealousy of not being wanted. Passengers, bah!
Now it just rots. Nothing works and nothing’s being repaired. The train turntable doesn’t spin anymore and the control cabin’s in a sorry state. Too many parties – even the DJ has left.
Blackened beams attest to a hellish retirement, the smell of smoke still lingers, scattered sheets of paper flutter around the office, names and addresses for all to see (so much for Germany’s paranoia with privacy law), and the clock on the administration building only tells the right time twice a day.
It used to be so different. The railroad yard began operations in 1893 or 1904 (depending on your source) and was only closed down (for reasons I have so far been unable to determine) in 1997. At its peak, it could handle up to 1,800 freight cars a day. Nearly 2,000 Güterwagen in one day!
But they ripped out the rail tracks and knocked down a few buildings by 2007. Then in 2009, the whole 40-hectare site, including the land going down as far as S-Bahnhof Pankow, was snapped up by furniture store magnate Kurt Krieger.
Since then Krieger has been fighting (living up to his name) to develop the site. Initial reports suggested he wanted to invest €350 million to build a 30,000 square meter shopping center and a 40,000 square meter furniture shop (à la Ikea), while planting 1,370 new trees and creating a five hectare park. The latest plans are for a whole new neighborhood called “Pankower Tor” consisting a shopping center, school and some 2,000 apartments.
There’s a “Pankower Tor” info box at S-Bahnhof Pankow to inform locals of the latest exciting developments, but that’s abandoned, too. I’ve never seen it open. It’s locked up secure and covered in graffiti. So that tells you all you need to know about the plans.
The impressive round Rundlokschuppen (railway roundhouse), where they were able to turn locomotive engines with no reverse, is a protected building apparently dating to 1893 and one of the last two in Germany.
Krieger initially wanted to invest €5 million to restore it for cultural use.
“Maybe we’ll turn it into the opera of Pankow,” he joked in his broad Berliner dialect, according to Tagesspiegel. Pankow and opera are a strange mix, to say the least, and those plans appear have hit a bum note in the meantime.
The protected roundhouse is being battered by time and as it passes, there will be little of it left to protect anymore. It’s often what happens to “protected” buildings in these parts. Denkmalschutz (for a listed building) means nothing at all. Denk mal.
For now the site is inhabited by rabbits, street artists and odd people who like to practice voodoo and the like, with security prowling to try keep them all away. But they couldn’t keep the goldfish away! There were quite a few enjoying a feeding frenzy at the surface under the train turntable.
One of the buildings I found myself in had a load of bricks and sheets of paper arranged in the middle of the floor like a voodoo temple.
For now Güterbahnhof Pankow is at the end of the line. But the development work could be given a green light at any time, or not.
One way or another, the Güterbahnhof is still waiting to go off on a whole new track.
LOCATION AND ACCESS (HOW TO FIND GUIDE)
- What: Güterbahnhof Pankow. Former railroad yard or freight station with two train turntables, one inside, one outside, that used to handle up to 1,800 freight cars a day. Now it handles none. But that’s progress.
- Where: Am Feuchten Winkel 137-145, Berlin 13089.
- How to get there: It’s beside the S-Bahnhof Pankow-Heinersdorf. Best to get the train there but then go back over the bridge from where you will see the Rundlokschuppen to your left, keep walking, then take your first left, go left again, and again, until you’re walking alongside the main road you just left. Here’s a map. If visiting, Pankow Schwimmhalle is also nearby.
- Getting in: Getting in is no longer as easy as it once was. You’ll need to walk to the north of the site, where there’s a gate for cars to access. The gate will be locked of course, but there’s a small gap in the fence to the left of it from where you’ll be able to squeeze in if you don’t mind getting dirt on your clothes. If you mind getting dirt on your clothes you should just stay away. From everything.
- When to go: I reckon daytime is best, but it could also be a decent spot for a party under moonshine.
- Difficulty rating: 8/10. It changes all the time.
- Who to bring: Girlfriend/boyfriend (but not both at same time) or simply friends for a party. Trainspotters are a weird species but they’d also be into this.
- What to bring: Beer. You’d survive if you brought nothing but beer. Bring a camera if you want to take a few snaps. Bring some snaps if you want to drink some snaps. Bring vodka, whiskey, and rum too if you want to get shitfaced.
- Dangers: There were warnings of cameras and security in the comments below but there was no security there on the latest visit and if there are cameras, they’re not working. I don’t think the Polizei give too much of a Scheiße. Just watch out for the usual things when venturing around such places.
Along the same tracks…
West Berlin’s lifeline during the Soviet Blockade, Tempelhof Airport has since become the city’s biggest park. Berliners will fight to keep it that way.
Germany’s Luftwaffe used Flugplatz Schönwalde for the war. The Soviets took over afterward and left their traces after abandoning the airfield in 1992.
Flugplatz Brand was strategically important for the Soviet Air Force. Thankfully its battalions of flying fighters remained on ice for the duration of the Cold War.
I was there in a beautiful late fall day…all the trees were yellow and orange, no polizei, met obly the artist that was working at that “vodoo” temple…he said actually that it simbolises the joy of life. He invited us later evening to join a concert but we didnt took the offer 🙂
Ha! Thanks for solving that mystery! 🙂
So today a friend of mine and myself went there. There was no fence to be hopped over, nor any window to climb through. The Rundlokschuppen has an open door. But if you prefer a window to enter, there is one on the right side close to the railway.
But thanks for your descriptions of the way to get there – really useful. The train turntable does still spin – I tried it and it worked – of course you have to use the winder thingy on the other side. But it makes quite some noise, since the gears are old and “slightly” rusty. The building in front of it does have some interesting aspect, but it could need some street art – The buildings next to it are used by homeless people to find some shelter. We found some improvised beds upstairs while, telling by the smell, the first floor is their toilette. So all in all we would say it is a 1/10 for difficulty.
I was really surprised to find goldfishes under the train turntable outside, i hope they manage the winter.
You’re lucky! The Rundlokschuppen was firmly locked up when I went there – hence the need to walk around and crawl in through the window. Thanks for the comment.
I didn’t notice them – well spotted! Goldfish are hardy fellows (and gals), I’m sure they’ll survive it better than the rest of us.
HEADS UP^^ I was arrested for painting there 2 months ago. The police check the place very regularly.
Me and mate went there yesterday. Gate was wide open so we headed in and within 5 minutes some sneaky police men caught us. We weren’t doing anything illegal except trespassing, just taking photos, and we managed to get of with a 10 euro fine. Looked like a cool place.
Nice article on this place. I’m doing railway exploration myself for years. The first object I ever explored was the remnants of railway depot in my hometown, Siedlce (Poland), and about two years ago I visited abandoned workshops in Lubań (former RAW Lauban).
In Poland we have two roundhouses of this kind – one in Piła (in better state – it has turntable inside) and another in Bydgoszcz (less complete). Both are abandoned since beginning of the 1990s, and are facing demolishing. It would be a great loss, as there are only four objects of this kind in Europe, if not in the world!
By the way – nice blog, maybe if I’ll get some more money and find some neat accomodation in Berlin, I’m gonna go there for a week or so and explore some places.
Greetings from Poland
Hi Preki, and thanks for the info on the Polish roundhouses! It would indeed be a shame if they are demolished too. There seem to be some half-arsed plans to develop the one in Pankow, or at least incorporate it into something else. I guess it’s better than outright demolition.
Berlin is definitely worth a visit. There are plenty of places to stay if you book in advance and don’t come when the Berlin Marathon or something is on at the same time.
Grüße aus Berlin.
Just visited this today.. So much fun exploring! Much of the graffiti has change (as you’d expect) but some are still there. Only saw one other person (a fellow photographer). All of the buildings are accessible, the hardest to access is the one you’ve snapped behind the train turntable, you have to climb in through a window to get access. Photo’s will be up shortly. 😀
Hey there. My friend and I will be visiting Berlin for a few days in November and would be interested in visiting a few of the places mentioned in your blog.
Given the time of year, with levels of light fading rapidly and the fact it will probably be Baltic cold, what would you recommend as the best places to see? We’d like to do at least two, possibly three.
It will be our first time doing anything like this so we’re pretty excited about the fact. Where we’re from in Ireland, pickings are slim for this sort of thing. Any help will be much appreciated. As they say in the old country, Slainte
It’s November now. It gets dark around 5pm so you’ve still a bit of time to play around with. I’m not sure when it gets bright – I’m never up that early.
But don’t let light hours determine where you go – have a look through the post and pick your favorites!
Cheers for the reply man. I just have a few other questions and I’ll let you get going on your merry wanderlust way. What kind of clothing should we be wearing? Do you recommend anything other than a good jacket and sturdy pair of boots? And do you think getting to the Lager Korrale is feasible in November? It’s the main point of our focus on this thing. And is it still worthwhile to even think about Krampnitz? Any help will be much appreciated
Good jacket and sturdy pair of boots is fine. I never have anything more. Koralle is deffo feasible in November. Krampnitz also still very much worthwhile.
Slainte. You’ve been very helpful. Hopefully I’ll be able to let you know how the trips go, if everything goes according to plan and we don’t get nabbed by the fuzz.
Alright Irish Berliner, today I managed to visit this place. I arrived about 7:30 and spent a nice bit of time exploring the site, until some workers turned up at 9am with chain-saw’s. I think they were removing some of the silver birch that surround the outside turntable. I quietly tiptoed passed them and peddled home! Thanks again for such a wonderful website.
I made a little video from my time at guterbahnhof pankow, I hope your cool for me to share it!
Great film man! Really good! Sometimes I think video offers so much more than photos.
I’ll share this on the official Twitter channel…
I visited the place in mid November. It was a very nice Friday morning and none disturbed me, no police nor vandals, actually a met another photographer. I took some very nice pics inside the Rundlokschuppen (the main door was still open) and also inside the buildings close the turntable outside. I loved the wood roof of the Rundlokschuppen and the elegance of its columns. It’s a pity that the modern factories has lost this style. Thanks again for your descriptions of the way to get there and to explore it, really useful!
Thanks for watching, and your nice comment! Abandoned Berlin is so much fun 🙂
Glad you enjoyed it and had such a pleasant Friday morning! Thanks for your comment too – always a pleasure to hear that this stuff is useful!
hi dude, first of all thanks for this awesome website that help us discover the wonderful berlin !
Also i went to the place yesterday and it has changed, they sealed all the entrances and chained the doors, in the end you have to find a ladder that helps you go on the little roof of the rooms of the Güterbahnhof (not yet the “round” part), then you just enter inside by climbing down on the windows ( there is plenty of sharp glass, gloves are helpful) and you are in !
Also is you look a bit there is a perfect path to access the rooftop by that way.
Many thanks for sharing these urban places with us. I was there last weekend and it all nice. It was pretty easy to get in and there were a couple of groups of people taking a walk. After taking half an hour walk we were kicked out by police officers. They were still friendly though.
I took a look around here today. Everything is open (including the gate to get in!) and pretty trashed. There were a few groups of kids smashing stuff up but it was still a good way to spend an afternoon. The turn table still works by hand cranking!
Explored today, was a beautiful place. Met two people living there (temporarily they said) with their orange eyed dog. They showed me through one of the locked buildings that they had figured a way into. Met another photographer in the main building too and had no trouble getting in or with police.
Checked it out today – some kids looking for a spot to play with their nerf guns, and three chicks doing a photoshoot! Easy in easy out, no security. the gate in the fence was welded open.
Went there 5 days ago with a friend. Both the fence and the door to the round building were open. Met others but they were leaving just we came. Took great pictures inside and went back to the other buildings and the “train turntable”. No goldfish but frog 🙂 When we walked back the police was there – 4 men. They catched some people, who were on their way to the round building, and us. Normal speech that it’s forbidden to enter private areas and had to pay a warning fine. We didn’t want to have a long discussion so we paid 10€ and were allowed to go. Luckily we had the pictures taken before. We left and the police searched the area for more disturbers…. Next time we have to be more careful but now you know that police still cares about this area.
Went there on friday and bumped into the security guy with his green car… I heard he is every day there to watch. so we met him at 2 pm, after this he was gone. so good luck to everybody after 2 pm… (-:
Well we went there around a week ago and we met this security guy with his green car too. It was around 12 pm.. When we came back around half an hour late, he seemed to be gone.. The gate was only left ajar, so it was easy peasy to get in. Met nobody on the ground, I think we were the only ones around there, but I’m not sure because we only went to the main building (the round one – we we’re quite scared that this security man could come back) The building definatly is beautiful and we took some cool shots but its sadly quite trashed and really run out. But anyway, thanks for this great blog!
Went there on the Halloween night 31 Oct. Empty. Then back in the afternoon 1 Nov. Crowded. More people than at the actual train station beside it. A handful of tourist couples with cameras, and a 20 people strong hip hop crew filming a music video. AND some classical musicians practicing flute in the emptiest hall. Amazing acoustics!
Went today,easy to get in,lots to see but unfortunately no Goldfish.
Here’s a short film i made on my visit vimeo.com/115846467 .Hope you don’t mind me posting it here.
I was there last Tuesday 11:30am-2pm, the turntable works, just had to move a few rocks out of the way and give the wheel a bit of a yank. tm
I visited in October 2014. Interuppted an “artistic” photoshoot behind the main building!
Hey, just discovered the blog, great job ! I live nearby and seeing the old station everytime I go into the city (yay, cause S Blankenburg und Karow sind richtig WEIT WEG ) was quite tempting ! I’ll give it a try, as soon as the Frühling comes !
Been there on saturday after my visit in Waldhaus Buch. Güterbahnhof Pankow is a really nice and interesting place and it is easy to get in. The door to the area was open and also the main door to the Rundlockschuppen. I saw no police and no security guy. First I was alone, but when I was ready with taking my photos and walked to the exit, I met 4 different groups on the area. I was happy that I didn’t arrive 30 minutes later…..with all the people on the ground making good photos wouldn’t be possible. Very nice place, better than I had supposed! 🙂
I went there some days ago and I also interrupted a promotional photo shoot.
Everything was open, really easy to walk in, but by the time I left it was really packed, over a dozen of people just in the Rundlokschuppen.
Found no security, but considering how much people I found, I wouldn´t be surprised if it ends up being a new olympic villa, with entrance ticket, security and tours.
Went there last weekend, a lot of people in the old turntable building. Felt it was busier than the Kudamm on a Saturday. We also visited the old Rundlockschluppen, which was in a horrible state, partly set on fire. There’s a family of Roma living there, they make fires (using wood from the administration building) to keep warm and poop and pee there too. The stench was unbearable, not sure if it’s really safe considering the amount of stagnant water.
I saw some great work from street artists but I wouldn’t recommend visiting this venue again. It’s so easy to access and way too broken down to contain even a hint of the old days flair.
I went there with a friend two sundays ago, we weren’t alone at all, seen about 20, 25 people on the site. We couldn’t go into the Rundlokschuppen as some people were shooting a film, and wouldn’t let us in. It is sad to see how the place was broken down and destroyed through the years and too many visitors…We’ve seen a group of people throwing stones at a building, and I think they’re not the only ones, as all the buildings are very easy to get into…sadly.
But we had real fun and I think we might go back on a sunnier day.
I have been there a few days ago, the 1st of May. The gate was wide open and I only met two homeless who have probably slept inside. I came back on Sunday, the 3rd of May: there were some people that were taking photos and some other peaceful visitors. Great atmosphere.
If you want to take a look at my shots, here’s my gallery!
Hope you like it 🙂
We went there yesterday with a friend, and there’s not just a station, there is an abandoned village, with cars, stations, a hall, appartments. We spent more than two hours here, it was really cool, and really big. We can go inside each buildings and there are many places to shot.
Went to check out this place past Thursday. Very easy access. The site is quite big. We ran into a group of young Berliners, two other urbexers and what we suspect to be a pot dealer. It also seems that a hobo lives in one of the smaller buildings, the one with the stage.
In the outside area there are some large holes in the ground, I guess part of the sewer system or something like that. Be careful not to step into one and break your ankle. We came across one that had fresh green leaves covering it. Quite weird.
Went to this place today, cold but clear, easy access as said. Met several explorers.
What supprised me is, the turntable is still able to turn with the handwheel, quite impressive, i thought after years of rusty, the turntable should have been completely blocked, but it turned out i am wrong, i can turn it without any resistence.
I’ve seen a security car on 06.01.2016. Luckily I was near the tall tower thing and could run away by just jumping through the broken fence. Be careful guys.
We were here on January 25th. It was free to allow access and there was no security. About 30 people met inside: photographers, graffiti artists, and children. Ours photo album here: facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.353251248132297.1073741871.309908329133256&type=3
Went there today.. Dont know why but i thought the place would be quite small, but that wasnt true. I am used to visit these kind of places but since i was on my own and was running out of time i didnt walk through all the buildings, think lots of them are quite dull also? Still loved the place. Getting in was so easily. I met two Girls in the ‘dome’ going a photoshoot or something and when i was back on the bridge i saw them running like hell but i guess they were only running from two guys Who Let their dog out (why else would you have a beer in your hand?) so.. For visiting an abandoned place on your own.. Guess this is the place to go to…
After lots of discussion..seems they plan to go ahead with constructing new housing & a school in the area…”it should go fast..plan to start in 2 years” says the article.
Does anyone know what the tower’s called or how high it is? I climbed it so I’m interested 🙂
I went there again yesterday (was there last year in summer too), and it’s still super easy to get in, as the gate is open. The old turntable is still working and you can turn the crank and listen to the interesting sound while you go round 😉 One thing though, they have put metal plates and a door at the entrance of the building next to the turntable. But where there’s a will, there’s an open window and some stuff to climb on.
Think i’ma check out this place out today
Was there again to get some better film shots. An the police came an took all the people off the roof. As well with refugees are starting to make homes in it as well.
I went here yesterday. Easy to acces by foot, becouse a tree fell on the road you need to climb with your bike for a bit if you are by bike, so i choose to just lock it outside. For the first 2 hours i encountered nobody. Then i run into 3 people doing graffiti. In some of the rooms of the small houses there where defenatly people living (refugees, homeless? Not shure) Wel made bedds, they also cleaned the rooms. And later i run into a group of 12 kids aged 12-15, 2 girls and a group of boys. Who where smashing bottles and sceaming. They started screaming sexual harrassments to me (I am a lone female explorer) so i took off. Then i ren into the police (I think they where comming for the group of kids). I hid in the undergrowth and they did not spot me. Their car was blocking the entrance. They could not drive up the terrain becouse of the fallen tree.
Place is double fenced (but both fences have holes in it). Someone definetely is living in the small houses. I was there last weekend and it seemed like there was a massive party recently
Visited today, both fences were open, extremely easy to get in and walk around. Awesome place, would be a shame if they would tear everything down. Could be a great vibrant place for small businesses and a park for locals alike
*I have been recently, crazy easy to access, met others exploring there, chill
After learning about this urbex business on a spontaneous trip from Utrecht, NL to ghost-town Doel, BE and upon moving to Berlin recently I have happened upon this site. I like to explore these places now and I try to create some art through dance and circus. Here is what I did at Guterbahnhof-Pankow, cheers to your research!
Don’t go there. There are around 100 homeless people and exploring the area isn’t fun anymore.
I visited this place this year in May… Outside I saw clothes in the threes but anyone in the main building neither outside…. The fence totally open and the place amazing…
Be careful with all the crashed glass in the floor ….
I was there again today, everything is still pretty much the same as a year ago. there’s a whole bunch of automated cameras scattered over the grounds, and they did film us, but we saw no actual security service. they repaired the fences but in the process strangely equipped them with useful climbing aids XD
idk if we were just lucky, but no one bothered us at all.
I went there not too long ago and there were security cameras set up. However, they turn 180 degrees every 20 seconds. So when it was looking away you can run to the main building in its blind spot. I was the only one there, didnt see any voodoo 🙁
Visited last October. There was police and security patrolling the area. Maybe we just got unlucky, but it seemed like they have improved security — perhaps due to the fact that there were people living there. I didn’t see any indication of that from the outside, but on the other side of the road that goes over the rails, you can find small tent camps with refugees living there. Perhaps they are the former inhabitants.
visit on 05-07-18 I couldn’t go in = 2 fences (strong ones) are built. I looked around from the bridge to see where to go in (also all the windows-entries are blocked). I went donw to the allotments (not my day = sun was shining =many people were in their gardens). I couldn’t get in.
Visited today, walked around most of the perimeter, and it was impossible to get in. Every gate is firmly shut with a padlock and the top of some of the fences have spikey nails in them to prevent you climbing over. While some parts of the fence look easy enough to climb over, it doesn’t seem worth the risk. 🙁
Tried to get in today, but it was impossible. All the gates were firmly closed and the fence was to high to climb over.
This is cool as flip
Saw this on YouTube:
Saw the loco turntable and then it was a matter of working out where in the world it was. Which is how I found your site.
Me and my friends went there yesterday and had a blast. Only hard part was getting over the fence but after that super easy to go around and its just an amazing site.
I was there in August and it was not possible to enter as all fences were thightly closed and no holes nowhere
Went here a few days ago – would definitely recommend a visit. I’d say current difficulty is about 3/10.
I didn’t really look at other access options and just climbed straight over 2 fences to get in, but then met people in there who showed me a hole in the fence! If you walk away from the main road (prenzlauer promenade), heading north east along a street named ‘Kolonie Feuchter Winkel’ on google maps, there’s a left hand turn that takes you directly to a large hole in the perimeter fence.
The main circular building is stunning. As is the semi circular building to the north of it. The third building is shuttered up and covered in scaffolding meaning that – A) you should keep an eye on it to see if there’s construction workers who might spot you & B) it will probably not be much longer before this site gets ‘developed’ so go see it while you can
Went in December 2020. Still very easy to get in, there’s a stretch with no fence at all (one has to squeeze between two fences of Kleingartenkolonie, but it’s not difficult – just as Mark in the previous comment suggests). Both times that I went eventually a security guy appeared and gently chased us out, but we spent already a long time there. The last visit there were also workers fixing the house next to the circular thing. Even on a Sunday. We said hello and after this they never paid any attention to us (and contributed some very nice metal sounds to our recording). But it does look like there’s some reconstruction on the way (also the part between S Pankow-Heinersdorf and S Pankow – the fence is reinforced, no more gaps, still super easy to get in though).
We recorded this video piece with pretty experimental music (since that’s what we do and now there are no concerts due to corona) and left. https://youtu.be/z-CzLCU9jK4
Went there on saturday (24.04. 2021). The place is under construction. There were at least two Bauarbeiter. Sorry!
What, really? They’ve been planning to build there for years. Can’t believe they’ve finally started!
Do you think think you could still sneak in after hours? You know, twilight? Even after 17:00 vibes to avoid them?
If you tried, please let us know! We’ve been wanting to go there for some time now, I’ll be very mad at myself if we forever missed that chance :'(
The hole in the fence is closed, there I’d construction going on now and there is a security guard patrolling.
went there on thursday 13th 5 2021….its a no go without some serious breaking and entering ….and to much construction going on
I didn’t see any barbed wire there today. Did I miss it? The construction crew is gone after 17-18.
obviously they start maintaining it – at last! https://www.berliner-woche.de/heinersdorf/c-bauen/ueber-sanierung-de-betriebswerks-wird-weiter-gestritten_a310257
5 minutes in a security guard showed me the exit.
I came for the info but have stayed for the witty narrative. Even the “what/where/…” basic details contain nuggets of humor. Thanks for putting the time and effort into this website, your hard work and talent shows.
Any update here? Still construction going on?
They’re still building.