Blubbering mess: Blub swimming and leisure center

Filed 25/1/2015 | Updated 2/2/2015
A lost paradise lingers in Neukölln, waiting in vain for the rats to release it again. All they wanted was to swim and frolic like anyone else, but tolerance is on thin ice these days – there’s not enough communication or respect.
“No rats!” locals demanded. The thought of peaceful coexistence never even occurred to them. Allegations were made, accusations, threats. Then, to fulfill their own prophecies, they themselves became worse than the rats could ever have been. Gangs of youths took over the pools, formed fiefdoms, scared good people away. Nobody could swim there anymore. At least the rats were willing to share.
On Feb. 1, 2005, the Blub swimming and leisure center closed down. The “Al Andalus” sauna facilities persevered but followed suit in 2012. The rats won. Now they have the whole 40,000 square meters to themselves.
Blub, short for Berliner Luft- und Badeparadies (Berlin Air and Bathing Paradise), first opened in Britz beside the Teltow Canal at a cost of 44 million Deutschmark in February 1985. It started off with a splash by sponsoring Hertha Berlin for three seasons.
The “bathing paradise” quickly became one of West Berlin’s most popular swimming pool centers. They were humans initially. Apparently some 600,000 used to come here every year to enjoy the various indoor and outdoor pools, saltwater or otherwise.
There were hot-whirl-pools and no-whirl-pools, geysers and fountains, waterslides including one 120-meter “Great Slide” and a whitewater canal, a sauna garden, water playground for kids and a regular garden for sun worshippers. There was also a fitness center. And in case things weren’t crazy enough already, a “Crazy River” was added later.
I’m not sure if Mauerfall was to blame, if the Berlin Wall had been blocking Neuköllners’ natural migration to other pools like a dam preventing salmon returning to home rivers, but visitor numbers dropped in the years after German reunification. Perhaps that was when the rats first saw their chance…
At 3.40pm, Monday, December 9, 2002, Blub was closed down with immediate effect. Rat shit in the baby pool, rats swimming in the outdoor pools, and rat crap and fresh bird shit in the canteen were reason enough for the local health authorities to step in, according to Der Tagesspiegel.
Blub boss Harald Frisch said the rat infestation wasn’t down to any lack of hygiene. He blamed the proximity of the canal. The damn thing must have moved. He took steps to get rid of the uninvited visitors with traps and so on. A pest control company was hired to monitor the place every couple of weeks – rat security.
But there had been problems before. The city council had already closed parts of Blub in 2000. Hygiene was an issue in the sauna, whirl-pools and kitchen, while changing rooms were dingy. The gangs of youths had already staked their claims and were putting off other visitors (but not the rats). A security guard was hired to deal with them.
None of this is good for business of course. Visitor numbers had already halved by 2002. However, the city council’s closure order was probably the fatal blow. Though Blub opened again a week later, it never recovered. A wire mesh fence was put up at night to keep the rats out, but the real fence was the bad publicity that kept people away.
Blub declared bankruptcy the following year, when only 220,000 visitors came. Despite the declared lack of money, Frisch invested €4 million in renovating the sauna to an Andalusia-inspired sauna wonderland with a gemstone steam bath, herbal springs and volcanic sauna, as well as a bigger sauna garden. I won’t pretend to know much about bankruptcy procedures, or saunas.
Blub plodded on another two years before finally succumbing to the inevitable and closing down for good. Nobody wants to swim in rat shit.
Frisch didn’t give up without a fight. He kept the sauna and fitness areas open and tried to get investors on board to resuscitate the ailing complex, albeit with a different focus.
He wanted to turn the whole thing into a sort of health spa and wellness oasis –the kind of thing young gang leaders wouldn’t be interested in – and was hoping to drum up €5 million to complete the work by early 2006.
“After 20 years of Blub we don’t want to run a hotchpotch business anymore but to completely reposition ourselves,” said Frisch, striving for an approach to match his name.
But the investment never came. “It hurts,” said Frisch in 2009, when only the “Al Andalus” sauna area was open.
The property developer Tobias Willmeroth bought the land from the state-owned Liegenschaftsfonds Berlin and planned on turning the site into a holiday resort for families by 2011. However, his high-falutin’ plans also came to nothing.
Now the site is owned by a Munich investor group, the imaginatively named H-Group, which plans on knocking the whole place down and building 450 luxury apartments in its wake. Construction on “Greenpark” is due to start this year.
Frisch is involved in a dispute with the investors, but the city is on their side. It’s bad news for the rats. Still, they should be used to investors sniffing around.
The pools are filthy of course, and the slides are gone, but the remains of the leisure center are gathering dust below. Mirrored walls reflected the fitness machines’ misery. Only gym rats use them now.

Blub (Berliner Luft- und Badeparadies) a former swimming park and leisure center with loads of pools, slides and crazy stuff that was immensely popular before the rats noticed it too. Now it’s a blubbering mess.

Buschkrugallee 64, 12359 Berlin‎.

How to get there
The nearest U-Bahnhof is Grenzallee on the U7. It’s a short walk from there. S+U Neukölln is the next stop and on the Ring Bahn for those living further away. It’s all very convenient. Once you cross the bridge over the Teltow Canal turn right into the park and Blub will be a little further on your left. If you can’t tell left from right it’s the side that isn’t a canal. Here’s a map.

Getting in
This place is embarrassingly easy to get into. The fence is pulled right back practically inviting you in. You can also go down by the side of it if you want to say hello to the gruff dog in the car park. He’s grand. He barks but he’s just looking out for whatever poor soul is living in the hut there. You’ll avoid the dog altogether if you go in through the fence, step through the smashed glass door – it’s no longer what you’d call a door – and walk through the fake palm trees until you find a wide open doorway on your left. This will bring you into the “Al Andalus” sauna area, though it’s a lot cooler now than it used to be. Anyway, you’re in now, good luck!

When to go
Daytime if you want to see stuff, not that the place is particularly scenic, or nighttime if you want to have a party. In fact, this would be quite a good place for a party. I suspect it will be busier come summertime – if the diggers haven’t already moved in.

Difficulty rating
1/10. Almost too easy.

Who to bring
Bring your friends, have a party.

What to bring
A case or two of beer, ice, a few bottles of Havana Club 3 años, limes, mint leaves and sugar for mojitos, a few bottles of wine and maybe something to nibble on. Bring a good torch too.

Just watch where you step, there are quite a few holes waiting to break your ankle. Rat shit can also be quite slippy, especially on smooth swimming pool tiles. Steer clear of any homeless you meet and don’t bother them – you wouldn’t like to be bothered in your comfortable apartment.
If you see any diggers, rip off all your clothes, carve “Blub Retten!” across your chest and chain yourself to a fake palm tree straight away. It might just prolong the party a little bit longer.

Thanks once again to the irrepressible Mark Rodden for copy-checking. Any mistakes are his fault and his fault alone.

Thanks also to Emma of Little City for accompanying me on my first visit. It’s worth checking out her impressions and interview here:

And if that's not enough Blub action for you, The Guardian ran an edited version of this post on its Cities site here:

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Greeting from China. This blog has been so inspiring! I would love to visit Berlin simply because of all those abandoned placed you recommended. Courage, sense of beauty and thoughtful and sentimental description are what i find in the posts.

Me and my friend have been there yesterday, really interesting place, thank you for informing us about this place by this website :-).

Sadly the afternoon ended that we saw a weird guy who was really nervous and telling us that we should leave because of police etc. We where anyway allready done and on our way out. Couple of minutes we saw him with a group (5 People) running away with a lot of money in their hands. Later a group of guys(6) came out who told us that they just got robbed by those guys.

We saw on the same time some couples etc. like me and my friend. So please new visitors be carefull and watch out if you see groups of people hanging around in the park.

If those fuckers would not be there yesterday I would fully recommend it to everybody, anyway it can happen ofcourse everywhere, be carefull and dont take all your bellongings there.

We have been there today. It is an amazing place. To access, I only missed the Logo with some lights and a big arrow telling you, hey! here! it´s open! Really easy. We some other guys, but not too many. No rats or diggers but some rests of some (more than one) parties.

There was a homeless out of the place but any problem at all. Nice and interesting place to visit, but yeah, take care under your feet, some parts are not really safe and there are some holes.

thanks for the info and the blog again!

PS. I´m not sure if the place had a real address but the closest number in the street we found was 54 and not 64 :). Just what we saw.

We went there today! It's an amazing place! So much to see and explore!
We've met some other people, but everyone was nice! :D
No security, easy to get in, absolutly amazing location, but a little bit hard to find!

I would go there everytime again! :)

Haha! Today i was there too!
I think we all met today ;)
It's a really nice place! Easy to access, no guards, i stayed for 2,5 hours exploring the whole terrain!

it seems like today was our day ;). Perfect time/weather to go.

Former looking:

We were there today (sunday). We met at least 15 other people and apart from explorers, there were also a bunch of local kids on the premises, drinking, cycling (yes, really) and spraying the walls with paint cans. The place is in terrible shape (considering how recently it was closed) - everything is covered in graffiti, most windows are smashed... It's really quite sad. Worth checking out for sure, but the place has no resemblance to how it once was.

I went today, it was very simple to get to and nice to explore.

We decided to go to Berlin because of the cheep flights from Dublin, we came across this blog when a girl in my class had mentioned Spree Park, so firstly, thank you Irish Berliner for mapping everything for us, made it so much easier to find everything. We left Bulb to one of our last days, Wed 11th Feb, and we were not disappointed, about a 5 minute walk from the metro, walk over the canal and turn right and thats you, the big green gate had been pulled apart so it was easy enough to walk in. The grass around the building has a pathway walked into it (must be from other budding explorers) walk round the side of the building and you will easily get into the main swimming pool room, there was no one else here when we went, so we stay for about an hour photographing this place. Girls just remember to wear boots, there is a lot of glass around the outside pools, and be carful because it can be slippy in the pools!

Pretty cool place, definitively made our trip to nerlin way cooler. The first day we were at the blub, there were some people having a party and since we didn't want to disturb them, we could not see all of it. When we returned the next day, there were even some guys on the damn roof!

I wondered why there were so many people recently and thought it might have been posted on - and yes: It's here.

Saw around 30 people hanging out there the last time I was there. Quite mad. It's too central and too nice. I doubt it can go on for much longer with that popularity.

That was probably me on the roof. There's a fence inside one of the rooms which you can climb up and get on top via a skylight. Think I'll go back with a bunch of people and have a party. Hum.

I went yesterday and the place is really cool and easy to get in. But we saw 2 policemen inside. I,m not sure if someone inform them about us or if it was just a coincidence and they were just checking the place.

Ive been there about 3 weeks ago: Klick me
Getting in and out was no problem.

We've been there today and spend a few hours exploring everything. Incredible, how easy it is to get in! No climbing through fences or anything, just walked in. In the morning it wasn't very busy, only a few other couples but towards the afternoon it got rather busy. We saw at least 50 other people in total, family with kids and all.
We found the "ladder" to get onto the roof but had put another fence up for better access ;)
Really cool day out, definitely recommended!

I've been there so many times in my youth. It's really strange to see how it looks today. I remember all those places when they were in a better shape.

was there early this morning..had the whole place for myself. There was an article in Der Tagesspiegel of yesterday, saying the owner will hire security guards. And that the place will be demolishes at the latest in Autumn, to make place for rental apartments. Link (only in German though):

Been there twice since the last poster and things still stand correct..the place was filled with the usual mix of tourists, local kids and graffiti artists. My last trip also had some people with a drone recording an Arial view and some gypsies removing any scrap metal not screwed to the floor into a waiting van.

The smell of burnt wood still fills the air since the recent arson won't be long before some mentalist (or paid lackey from the owners) is finally successful.

Its amazing how much it deteriorated from 2013...almost every window is smashed, broken glass scattered everywhere. Also odd that the old owners just left all the paperwork behind....invoices, blueprints, title deeds etc. I'm sure its not the done thing, but I took a water bill (eyewateringly expensive) and a photo album of the place in happier times..I'll post some links to it soon.

Went to see this place past Friday. Super easy to get into. We also saw a lot of other people. Photographers but also drunk homeless people and just kids drinking beers. The place is really gigantic. If you want to check out the gym basement be sure to take a flashlight. Also be careful not to walk below slabs of broken glass that are hanging from the window frames. There were no security guards.

We went here on Monday evening. It was so beautiful! All of the overgrown plants and grafitti and waah, it's huge too! Bumped into a number of other people looking around, so felt really safe (I was a bit worried after one post about visitors getting robbed). We couldn't see anything in the downstairs sections, it was way too dark, and a bit creepy, plus I stepped in probably human shit on the staircase on the way down haha so gross. The main room, with the huge empty pool, was truly magnificent. No security, so easy to get in- such an adventure! Thanks!!!

I went there a couple of weeks ago.
At around 8 o'clock in the evening a guard came by to tell us we should go. He was very relaxed, understood we just wanted to chill und gave us another half an hour.
Having a feeling they are closing down lots of sites these days...

As many already said, this is s great place for Urban Explorers if you just want to relax and not crawl in your bells.
Sadly I met a group oft wird men, wearing Thor Stein (a nazi cloth Brand) and playing around with knifes and syringes.
But if you come in a group, as we did, there shouldnt be a problem

I was visiting this place in 2003 for the first time together with my wife at that time. We liked it a lot and came back 2 or 3 more times. We had some good times there. In 2005 we moved away from Berlin and we were unable to pay it a visit.
It's sad to see the place in such a shape. It is gone, just life my wife now;-)

Oh, I liked those water slides back in the 80s and 90s. Last time I was there must be around 1998 or so. Was still fun and I would like to have something similar (without the rats of course :) back in Berlin. That is something which I really miss in the area.

This place is amazing! There were so many wonderful graffiti <3 I spent almost 1.5 hours inside and there were some other people filming and taking pics. It was extremely easy to get in, the fence does not even exist anymore - guess it wouldn't even be considered illegal! :)

Fences have been reinstalled, a few doors have been locked... But still easy, just hop over the fence (its high but the trees are giving u a helping hand). We were pretty sure someone was lurking around the buildings but weve seen no one...

I went there today for the third time during the last two months, it's so sad to see what vandalism has done to this beatiful location...
If you came from the park side there's the new fence (thanks Anonymous for warning :) ) so i walked around under the wooden bridge and found a "door". If you came from the hotel side there's gap between a small building an the fence.

Visited there today and before I got too far I heard what was either a gunshot very closeby or something that sounded like a gunshot, maybe to deter people from exploring. Needless to say I won't be going back to find out.

Went there today and it is awesome. Extremely easy to get in. The fence was wide open and you can get in via the other side as well. There was other people exploring and enjoying the place too. No problems at all. Highly recommended. It was one of the best things I've done in Berlin so far! Great pictures!

We went there today. The holes are so big that it is an invitation to get in ! Unmissable and easy to enter : it's even disappointing, there's no challenge. It's really fun inside, there is still all the traces of the pool, we made good pictures. Few other groups of explorers, no security.
It is pretty quick to visit all, no need of a complete afternoon

We visited "BLUB" in Oct. 24th, a nice sunny day in Neukölln. Entering was not a problem at all, a few kids hang around. First we passed some smaller rooms and then we entered the absolut impressive huge hall. Took a lot of photos, some other urbexer also anging around. It was a kind of silence interrupted by breaking glass under the shoes. Nearly museum athmosphere. I appreciate the website - it is a very lovely blog - Chapeau Ciaran !!!

Went there today. I entered from the back where the residential buildings are. There is part of the back wall torn down and you enter from the outdoor area. It looks a lot smaller than I remember... ;-) But it was nice to be back before the inevitable demolition begins. Oh, and no security but I met 7 others. 3 left when I enteres, another on ewas inside, and when I left another 3 came. It's like a open house. At least today it was.

When are they going to start with the demolition? Hopefully not before new year :(

Went a couple days ago. So easy to get into its practically inviting you in. Met another couple of explorers who were very friendly. There were also a younger people just chilling in the place. Amazing space and so interesting to see the comparison what it used to look like in older pictures. Sadly after about half an hour of exploring the police came in and told us to leave. Didnt get into any trouble but they just wondered what we were doing in this 'dangerous' place!

We went today, so easy to get in and no signs of demolition yet. Well worth a visit.

They started to tear the Blub down this week. I have been there yesterday but there were too many people working to take last pictures. Maybe i'll go on sunday to see if anything is left but they work really fast :/

We went today but had to go out after one hour because there is security guards...

I walked around it today - planing on going tomorrow - absolutely no signs of demolition. The trees and bushes have been removed by a sort of a caterpillar, but nothing has been done to the buildings.

We went to the Blub this morning and you could just walk in. More or less no more fences and no "do not enter" signs at all. Clear signs of the fire damage outside with at least two sauna huts burned down and all bushes removed. We entered the Blub through broken windows and took a walk around the main hall with the wave pool and the whitewater thing. It was one hell of a sight for sure! Quite a change from what we used to know some 15 or 25 years ago.
It is worth the trip, everybody go as long as it's still there.
What an amazing plece the Blub! :D

Heyy I'm looking for photos from before when the pool wasn't abandoned yet, anyone got some links please? cheeeeers

I went there yesterday. They cutted every threes, the little chalet burnt down. It's way less impressive than before. After a while, the police asks us to leave the place.

We went at the end of February, same time i was there in 2015, not much had changed other than they have cut down all the trees outside, but we weren't bothered at all by people
Heres a couple of Photos:

Ya it was on the news this morning iv posted pics of it on fire at I wanted to film there a few more times to.

There is security Now watching over the place and let's just say they're not very nice.. They told me they where going to call the police but they didn't but felt like one wanted to swing on me.

Went here today. There are indeed lots of guards. If you go in through the gate it might take them a while to notice you. There's at least three of them and they have a little cabin all the way in the back of the terrain. If you're polite they're not that unfriendly.

Went here with a friend today. Indeed a large part of the building had burned down. The guards are there now. 3 of them were in a little cabin up on the hill at the back of the building.
My friend and I climbed the fence on the side of the canal walked all the way through the building and were spotted by the guards 40 minutes later as we came out of the building out into the open.
I recon if you stay inside the building itself and come around lunchtime it will take the guards a while to find you.
Guards were polite and just told us to leave when they saw us.

Really bummed to hear about this place burning down. I was there in July and while some of the buildings on the outskirts had burned, the main building was fine and there were no security guards at all. Here's a panorama of the outside area, for anyone interested:

I have TONS more photos, if anyone is interested. You can see some on my Instagram (linked below).

Went here with my girlfriend on Saturday. Most of this thing has been burned down, but there are still a lot of nice spots check out! We have been there for about one hour and it was great! No security and no noisy neighbors! But you have to hurry up before more of the buildings get destroyed.

Went there today with my sister. Lots of the buildings are burned down, and it is hard to see, that it once was an indoor waterpark. It was our first abandoned place to see, and we found it really cool and interesting anyways. It was very easy to get in, and at first we were alone, but right as we got on to the leagal side of the fence, a group of business men with helmets on came by - looks like they are trying to get the place sold.

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