Berlin, Germany | C.1952

Photo Credit: Clare Nicolson

Massive floodlights illuminate the Friedrich-Ludwig-Jahn-Sportpark, an arena built in 1912 in Berlin’s Prenzlauer Berg district. The stadium—easily recognizable for its iconic pyramids of lights and (as of 1998) its 19,000 bold, multicolored seats—was first referred to as Berliner Sportpark, but was renamed after a German patriot and the father of modern gymnastics, Friedrich Ludwig Jahn.

Jahn believed that physical education was crucial to strengthening German health, character, and identity. In 1809, he settled in Berlin and created many of the gymnastics apparatus we know today: the balance beam, pommel horse, parallel bars, rings, and horizontal bar. Shortly after, he would open Berlin’s first open-air gym, or Turnplatz.

Today, the complex is home to Berliner FC Dynamo—a football team that celebrated nine of its ten consecutive championships here. Its lively sur- rounding area hosts the city’s largest flea market, its dedicated karaoke amphitheater (the Bearpit), and an 800-meter remnant from the Berlin Wall—which once divided the capital, and is now used as a gallery for street artwork. So whether you’re inside the arena or milling about outside, journeying to the Sportpark offers an apt reflection of the city’s capacity to vault into a new era of color and flexibility.

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