Just 60 km from Berlin, in the state of Brandenburg, is an indoor beach paradise located in one of the world’s largest buildings. On Cat’s school trip to visit concentration camps this summer, we stopped at Tropical Island for a completely different experience. Important to balance the challenging with lighter things, especially with kids.

Tropical Island came as a bit of a surprise. This wasn’t just another indoor water park, but a historical place as well. Just like the dreaded camps, here is another reminder of World War II. Tropical Island, you see, is located in an enormous hangar built on Brand-Briesen, a Nazi airfield. At the end of the war the site was taken over by the Red Army and throughout the Cold War, it was used by the Soviet Union.

At Tropical Island you won’t ever experience tropical rain or storms, instead there’s a constant temperature of 26° C, and constant humidity of around 60%. There’s an outdoor Amazonia area, a tropical village, a tropical sea, and the biggest indoor rainforest in the world, containing 50 000 plants and 600 different species. It’s lush and green, and yes, you’ll sweat. Think you’re seeing Angkor Wat? Or India’s Elephanta Island? You’re not hallucinating.

So, size: we’re talking 66 000 m2 floor space, 107 metres high. It fits up to 6 000 people at a time, has saunas, whirlpools, and a 27-metre water-slide, Germany’s highest. Needless to say, eateries abound – 13 of them, as well as mini-golf, and a large red-and-white balloon that takes you 60 metres in the air. And flamingos!

Want to spend the night? Well, you can! In one of 535 beds, or one of 138 tents.

Tropical Island Germany

World at a Glance is a series of short articles here on Sophie’s World, normally with a single photo (2-for-1 today), portraying curious, evocative, happy, sad, wondrous or unexpected encounters.