Spree River: map and everything you don’t know about it

Berlin’s main waterway is the River Spree, which is connected to the Baltic Sea by navigable canals and forms a river port in the German capital.

el esplendor del río Spree

The Spree, also known as the Sprjewja in Sorbian or the Spréva in Czech, is about 400km long, of which 182km is navigable, and much of it flows through the city, providing a backdrop for landmark buildings, as do other major rivers such as the Thames.

Rising in Lusatia, it is a tributary of the Havel, which in turn receives water from the Elbe and the Vltava, and has an average flow of 9,793 km2, with a mouth 29 metres wide.

Tales of the Spree

The extensive Spree was the scene of fighting during the capture of Berlin in the Second World War. Later, after the Berlin Wall was built, many East Berliners tried to escape across the river, and in 1989 a 1.3km section of the Berlin Wall along the Spree was preserved as part of the East Side Gallery.

The bridges built in the post-war period merely served the communication needs that arose during the process of rebuilding Germany, and the divided city would later ignore the Spree River, which largely coincided with the border between East and West.

Historia en el río Spree

For many years, the presence of the Spree was perceived as just another part of the wall that divided Berlin.

But since German reunification in 1989, major investments have been made in the restoration and construction of new bridges (see the Seine) and other major works that restore the value of a major city river like the Spree.

A floating city on the Spree

The Spree Bridge Berlin is a challenge to reconnect the city through the river Spree and its historic uses, creating a leisure space to optimise and activate this part of the city in the busy Treptow district of Kreuzberg.

The basic idea is to reuse a sunken boat and turn it into a floating public swimming pool next to the old Berlin Wall. The result is a pool of crystal clear blue water, submerged in the dark waters of the River Spree.

Accessible via a bridge from a fictional beach, it looks as if you are swimming in the river, but you are actually in an old industrial barge, a cargo ship used to transport coal, submerged in the waters of a river that wants to be an active part of the city.

Piscina flotante en el río Spree

The Spree Bridge is a new floating bathing area that can be transported anywhere on the River Spree. Consisting of a swimming pool, an artificial beach, a bridge and a container, it represents the ideal public space with the capacity to unite architecture and the city.

On the other hand, the recycled tugboat that forms the basin of the pool refers to a local dimension of the project, reflecting the rich tradition of the Spree’s nautical industry (see St. Lawrence River).

The idea of a contemporary ‘bathing boat’ was to revive the practice of bathing in a river as imposing, ancient and historic as the Spree.

The new “Spree Bridge” takes people back to the past, to the rescue of almost forgotten traditions, and at the same time links them to the present of modernity and the use of natural resources.

Disfrutando el río Spree

This is why the company that built it has invested so much in its development, and why it continues to be anchored to the city’s leisure facilities as a powerful element of national and international tourist attraction.

The collaboration of professionals from different fields and locations has transformed a lost tradition into a poetic experience, while at the same time giving the German capital a completely new perspective on its city.

This grandiose project has become one of the benchmarks for outdoor activities in the area south-east of the city centre, a driving force for change and activity in this multi-ethnic district of Berlin, and an example to be emulated in the rescue and good ideas for the benefit of rivers in all countries of the world (see River Nile).

With this project, the River Spree has gained a new and unique feature that allows it to reign supreme in a city as imposing as Berlin and other important cities of European modernity.

This is just one more aspect of the already unforgettable journey along the River Spree, whose banks are home to some of the greatest works of German architecture.

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