Germany Family & Leisure


The smell of fried potatoes mixes with a light scent of chlorine,..


sunlight glitters on the water’s surface, children run at the poolside and are admonished by a pot-bellied lifeguard. An elderly lady swims her laps, head held up high above the water, a young man passes her doing the crawl, looking a bit like a wet dog as he does so. It’s summer in the city. Or, more accurately: it’s summer at the public open-air pool.


Public pools are special places where people of all ages, colours and income brackets come together. They all frolic in the water, leaf through the daily papers, and oil themselves up with sunscreen. What a wonderful invention! In the 19th century, those who could afford it moved out of the city to a country home for part of the year: the concept of the summer holiday was born.

© UNESCO-Welterbe-Zollverein
© UNESCO-Welterbe-Zollverein

The first public bathing facility was invented around the same time. Sure, people were already bathing like crazy back in antiquity, but the trend disappeared during the Middle Ages – an era, as we all know, that was not exactly renowned for its affinity to water. The first precursors of today’s public open-air pools were riverside bathing facilities consisting of a pontoon with a platform and pool anchored in the water. One of the earliest such facilities was the Kreidemannsche Anstalt that opened in 1799 in a dammed-up section of the river Wakenitz in Lübeck. It was built by a swim instructor by the name of Anton Kreidemann, and he would be pretty excited to see how his idea of open-air swimming has caught on.


Though today you don’t even need a river to go swimming outdoors anymore. In Berlin, it’s true, there’s a barge lying at anchor in the river Spree that has been converted into a floating bathing facility. At the former coking plant of the Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex in Essen, meanwhile, they just welded together two shipping containers to create a swimming pool.

© UNESCO-Welterbe Zollverein
© UNESCO-Welterbe Zollverein

And in Leipzig and Dresden, bathers splash about completely river-free among fancy cocktail bars, beach huts and even palm trees. But wherever the crowds go to cool off, in the pool we’re all equal. Seen thusly, the public open-air pool is the happiest and most democratic place we can think of. Open from early in the morning till late in the evening all summer long.


More information in the new Explorer Magazine!




1 May to 9 Sep. 2018
Eichenstraße 4
12435 Berlin
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28 Apr. to 30 Sep. 2018
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01097 Dresden
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1 May to 30 Sep. 2018
Eggebrechtstraße 1, 04103 Leipzig
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© Presse / La Playa Beachclub Leipzig
© Presse / La Playa Beachclub Leipzig

14 Jul. to 2 Sep. 2018
UNESCO-Welterbe Zollverein,
Areal C, Kokereiallee 71
45141 Essen
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