Monday, November 20, 2006

REVIEW: Messe Berlin

Messe Berlin is a company that specialise in exhibitions, conventions and trade fairs, they run a complex owned by the State of Berlin, which is the tenth largest exhibition centre in the world hosting 80 international trade events annually. From the air the Messe Berlin complex looks huge, consisting of 26 buildings, most of which are enormous exhibition halls, boasting 160,000 square metres of floor space, that when dormant stand like empty aircraft hangars, awaiting a new exhibition, convention, or trade fair to begin.

Inside part of one of the empty exhibition halls

These are not the only activities that occur at the Messe Berlin, the complex is also used as a location for recording television programmes and films – each empty exhibition hall, makes a perfect ‘blank canvas’ into which a set can be designed. Outdoors the complex has an additional 100,000 square metres that includes the Sommergarten (Summer Garden) in the middle of the complex, which in the Summer months hosts open air concerts, and the Berlin Radio Tower which at 150 metres tall (with antenna), gives a fantastic view, not only over the complex – but over the entire city also.

I was fortunate enough to be visiting a Leeds Met student on work placement at the Messe Berlin, and was given a behind the scenes tour of the complex. During my visit there was a trade fair in full swing called ‘Import Shop’ that featured a global array of everything from ethnic foods, to candles, handbags, beads, paintings, wood carvings and delicate metalwork. My visit took place on a Thursday, but it was still a very busy time, with many shoppers actively searching for unusual Christmas gifts.

It has to be said, however that the highlight of the visit was the opportunity to go up the metal radio tower. The tower known locally as the ‘Funkturm Berlin’ was built in 1926 and is now a protected monument. It has its own restaurant mid-way up, where diners can see views over the city. At the top observation deck it is possible to go outside and feel the wind on your face whilst viewing the City 125 metres below. Truly spectacular, very entertaining, and most certainly worthy of experiencing for anyone visiting Berlin.

The lift ride up the tower

Aerial view over the Messe Berlin Sommergarten

Lift ride back down the tower

My thanks go to Lena Brockman and the staff at the Messe Berlin for their kindness and hospitality.

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