Now many people would think to really get the best out of Urban Exploration you need a big city like London, but that’s simply not true. While London, due to it’s huge expansion has opened up many spaces that were previosly inacessable or known, including sewers and tube stations, smaller cities have their own wealth of places ripe for finding. You don’t need to travel to far to explore your surroundings, the whole idea of urban exploration is the ability to explore your own surroundings, and get a better understanding and respect for what makes up the place you live.
Take Glasgow, theres been a huge amount of interest in Glasgow in the last 5years, expansion with events such as the Commonwealth Games has seen urban renewal, and with that a growth in urban exploration. Websites like Abandoned Scotland give you a great starting point for tips and help in Glasgow. Through them you can get suggestions for walks with your friends, or join in with others on a group eploration.Of course there are lots of forums on line in the UK covering all sorts of places, so if you dont know what’s in your local area, get online and have a look.
Recently I spent a long weekend in Berlin a city that, due to its unique history, for a long time was a mecca for squatters and urban explorers alike. Obviously the war caused a lot of chaos in Berlin, abandoned buildings, air raid and anti-aircraft towers, numerous bunkers – but what makes this still relevant is that the wall which then divided the city, slowed down a lot of re-building and created vast pockets of unusable land. Even though its now 25years since the wall came down and Berlin is now a modern cosmopolitan city, there are still many empty gaps.
For a novice urban explorer this is a great city to cut your teeth, so to speak! There are lots of underground guided tours, like this excellent one of a World War 2 flak tower, to give you a feel for the conditions of exploration in a controlled environment, and an understanding of the equipment needed. I loved this tour of Berlin Templehof, the vast former airport (once on of the 20 biggest buildings in the world) that played a huge role in the war and keeping West Berlin going through the Berlin blockade, and is now a public area – the tour takes you through some of the tunnels that were used for ammunition storage, and the secret film bunker, but really its seeing from inside the vastness of the space that was exciting.
Once you’ve experienced exploration, the next natural calling point is Teufelsberg Hil – the former home of American cold war spying. this crumbling listening station in Grunewald is a great place to spend an afternoon clambering about and wondering what passed through the now graffitied walls. Supposedly locked off, this is regularly and easily accessed, and a safe place to start unguided.
My advice – get to Berlin , it won’t stay like this for too much longer.