Cycle Tour Around West Berlin
Dag/day 6: Spandau
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Added on 18 Jul 2023
on 19 Aug 2023
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by Ottocolor on 18 Jul 2023
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Berlin, BE, DE (41 m NHN)
Berlin, BE, DE (43 m NHN)
11 Jul 2023
Hot and sunny, about 30°C, almost no wind.
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The Rewe supermarket baker provided breakfast, which I supplemented with butter and yoghurt from the shop. Then I was ready to cycle into Spandau's old town, where I wanted to spend a few hours.
This time I followed a very nice route along the lake, where two fairly high bridges over canals in particular impressed me. They indeed do improve things for cyclists in Berlin. In the end, the route became a bit convoluted, but soon I parked the bike by the Nikolai church and walked around it, as it only opened a quarter of an hour later. It seemed bright and newly renovated and has a very high nave. The basic substance dates back to the Middle Ages, and I read that Spandau is actually older than Berlin and also was a more important and larger city right into early modern times. In any case, the Electoral Prince of Brandenburg had taken communion according to Lutheran regulations with both bread and wine in this very church and thus introduced the Reformed Christian Church into the German state, which was to become the core of the later Prussia, which in turn became the core of the later German Empire. That fact alone justified my spending a rest day in Spandau.
After the visit in church I went for a walk through the old town. It didn't seem particularly old. Quite a few newer and also ugly houses defaced it. Down by the large city hall with a high tower and the modern glass-covered railway station, there was a big city feel.
I wasn't looking for what Spandau is probably best known for to foreigners, namely the prison where the Nazi leaders who hadn't been executed after the Nuremberg trials were locked up for decades. For example, Albert Speer, Hitler's architect and Minister of Armaments and his deputy Rudolf Hess, who served for a total of 40 years before he died in prison in 1987. The prison no longer exists, as it was torn down shortly after in order not to give neo-Nazis a place of worship, they had obviously turned the prison into.
I went into the museum in the so-called Gothic House and got an insight into life in the city through the ages. I remember a couple of nice tiled stoves. It didn't look particularly Gothic, but the pointed arches are probably only found in churches. But there aren't very many secular buildings from the Middle Ages either. In addition to the museum, there was a tourist information in the house. Here I got the tip to visit the fortress, which was a good one.
I left the bike at the church and strolled across the Havel to the citadel, as the fortress is called. Again I got myself an audio guide. I like them because you can follow your own slow pace and get the information ad libitum, i.e. as much as you like. After a very expensive but uninteresting beer I was ready.
There had been a walled castle in the Middle Ages, but it had been expanded into a modern fortress in the 17th century based on the Italian model, it said. But everywhere, including in Copenhagen's fortifications, large, high ramparts with lots of earth were built in this way to catch the shells from enemy artillery. This weapon was precisely the reason why the medieval walled castles could no longer be defended. This one was built with four symmetrical bastions. The only thing left of the old castle was the palace and the Julius Tower, which is the oldest building in all of Berlin. I climbed it and enjoyed the view in the perfect weather. Only the ridged top was a historistic work from the 19th century. The fortress museum was located in the palace. It is a real treat for anyone interested in fortress construction with all kinds of details. I would rather be outside and climb a bastion, but that was not possible. Well, I was growing tired and hot too, so I trudged back to my bike.
First I saw the mouth of the River Spree into the Havel, not spectacular but I just wanted to see this strategically important point. The fortress had been built precisely to be able to control it.
Now it was time for a light little lunch at a sidewalk restaurant opposite St. Nicholas' Church and my bike. Afterwards, I wanted to cool off in a lake, preferably without trunks, so I found a naturist beach at the airport lake, approx. 7 km to the east.
I again had Google Maps to guide me past West Berlin's old airport Tegel, which seemed completely dead. They must have shut it down after the new BER airport far to the south on the airfield of the old East German airport Schoenefeld finally opened after many years of delay, which developed into a genuine scandal that had cost several political lives in the process of its creation. The delay was caused mostly by fire safety issues.
But soon I chained the bike to a tree above an awful lot of naked people on a totally packed beach that dropped quite steeply towards the lake shore. I almost did not know where to step and also felt completely wrong with clothes on. But I soon shed them and found a slightly awkward place on a wooden bench with my feet in the water, and that was lovely. Countless were the times I had a swim here in the altogehter, because in the water there was no crowding. Either the weather was just too hot to wear any clothes, or Berlin naturists have a hard time. At least there was far more space on the neighbouring textile beach. I would have liked to make some contact, but it didn't come naturally, and you don't want to push it either.
The return to Spandau did not last long. My goal was now a restaurant by a ferry across the Havel, which had looked inviting. Well, the restaurant, not the ferry. But they kept rest days on both Monday and Tuesday. Again: who wants to work in gastronomy after all? Instead, I cycled out to my Rewe market and bought bread, sausage and meat salad. Plus disposable plates and knives, as I couldn't borrow any from the bakery. That was only for its own customers. A bit narrow minded if you ask me. But I had a self-made dinner and sat out in the sun and relaxed. But a group of youths on their bikes tried to annoy me and eventually managed to chase me away.
It was more peaceful out at the campsite, where I swam out into the river, and afterwards sat and listened to music on my mobile phone for a long time.