berlin aquarium burst

The Infamous Berlin Aquarium Burst: What the hell happened?

It was an incident out of a Hollywood movie. Probably quite a bad one, if it was made today to be honest, given the awful state of the current output.

Key Takeaways
1. The Berlin Aquarium burst was a significant event with a major impact on the local area and tourism.
2. Despite initial setbacks, Berlin’s tourism sector showed resilience and adaptability.
3. The incident raised important questions about safety and maintenance standards in public attractions.
4. Berlin continues to be a vibrant and attractive destination for tourists, offering diverse experiences.

Back in the day when films were films, the original Mission Impossible actually included a similar idea but I’m sure the Cruiser, de Palma and co. never dreamed anything so crazy could happen in real life – and on a massively bigger scale. But Berlin is full of surprises, and guests at the Radisson Blu witnessed one the biggest ones of their lives on the 16th of December last year…

Here’s a recap of how it all went down and what the inquiry concluded last month.

berlin aquarium burst

In the early hours of a crisp December morning in 2022, Berlin woke up to an unprecedented event that sent shockwaves throughout the city and beyond. The AquaDom, a colossal aquarium and a celebrated icon of Berlin’s vibrant tourist scene, experienced a catastrophic failure, resulting in its massive tank bursting open.

This led to the spilling of 1 million liters of water and hundreds of tropical fish, creating a flood of devastation in the heart of Germany’s capital.

The Immediate Aftermath of the Berlin Aquarium Burst

In the aftermath of the incident, the streets near the aquarium were inundated with water, glass, and debris. The burst not only affected the aquatic inhabitants of the AquaDom but also caused significant damage to the surrounding area, including a major hit to the adjacent hotel’s atrium.

As rescue operations commenced, the focus was on securing the area and ensuring the safety of both the public and the emergency responders.

Impact on Local Tourism and Businesses

Berlin, known for its rich history and vibrant cultural scene, attracts millions of tourists each year. The AquaDom was a major draw for visitors, often featured in travel guides as a must-visit destination. In light of the incident, tourism in the area experienced a temporary setback.

Businesses close to the aquarium, particularly those in the hospitality and retail sectors, felt the immediate impact of reduced foot traffic and the temporary closure of nearby attractions. Despite this, the resilience of Berlin’s tourism sector remains a testament to the city’s ability to bounce back from challenges.

For those planning a trip to Berlin, exploring the city’s abundant outdoor activities can be a delightful experience. From leisurely strolls in its lush parks to exciting bike tours, Berlin offers an array of options for the adventurous traveler. Discover more about the city’s outdoor offerings in our feature on Fun in the Sun: 5 Outdoor Activities in Berlin.

Safety and Maintenance in Public Attractions

The incident raised significant concerns regarding the safety and maintenance of large public attractions. In the case of the AquaDom, an investigation was launched to determine the cause of the burst.

However, as of October 2023, the investigation by prosecutors in Berlin was closed without a definitive conclusion, as experts were unable to determine the exact reason for the tank’s failure. This has sparked a broader discussion on the importance of regular safety checks and maintenance protocols for similar attractions worldwide.

Official Responses and Ongoing Investigations

Following the calamity at the AquaDom, Berlin’s authorities and the aquarium’s management faced immense pressure to provide answers and reassurances to the public. The initial response involved a thorough examination of the site by experts and the implementation of safety measures to prevent similar incidents in the future.

Despite the closure of the official investigation without conclusive results, the incident has led to a reevaluation of safety standards and emergency preparedness strategies in public attractions not only in Berlin but globally.

The Berlin tourism board and local government officials emphasized their commitment to ensuring the safety of all visitors and residents. They also highlighted the city’s diverse range of attractions that remain safe and open to tourists.

For those intrigued by Berlin’s rich cultural tapestry, exploring lesser-known yet equally fascinating destinations is highly recommended. Our guide, Been There, Haven’t Done That: 5 Things You Shouldn’t Miss in Berlin, offers unique insights into the city’s hidden gems.

Berlin’s Resilience and Attractiveness to Tourists

Despite the setback caused by the aquarium burst, Berlin’s appeal as a top tourist destination remains unshaken. The city’s rich historical background, coupled with its modern, vibrant culture, continues to attract visitors from around the world. Berlin’s ability to recover and adapt to unexpected events highlights the city’s resilience and the robustness of its tourism infrastructure.

As the city moves forward, it continues to offer a plethora of experiences for visitors. For food enthusiasts, Berlin’s culinary scene is a delight to explore. The city’s City West area, in particular, boasts a variety of dining options that cater to all tastes.

From traditional German fare to international cuisines, the culinary landscape of Berlin is as diverse as its culture. Discover some of the top dining spots in our article, 6 of the Best Places to Eat in City West Berlin.


The Berlin aquarium burst serves as a reminder of the unforeseen challenges that can impact tourist attractions. It underscores the importance of safety and maintenance in public spaces. However, the incident also highlights Berlin’s ability to navigate through adversity, proving its resilience as a premier travel destination.

The city continues to offer a rich array of experiences, from its historical landmarks to its dynamic cultural scene, ensuring that there is always something new and exciting for visitors to explore.

Final Perspective on the Berlin Aquarium Incident

The bursting of the AquaDom aquarium in Berlin was more than just a local incident; it became a topic of global interest, shedding light on the importance of safety and maintenance in large public attractions. While the immediate aftermath saw a disruption in the local area and concerns over tourist safety, the resilience of Berlin’s tourism industry and the city’s overall allure remained steadfast.

Berlin’s ability to overcome this challenge and continue to attract visitors worldwide is a testament to its enduring charm and the diversity of experiences it offers. From historical landmarks and vibrant cultural scenes to hidden gems and gastronomic delights, Berlin epitomizes a city that can turn challenges into opportunities for growth and innovation.

As we conclude, it’s important to remember that while the Berlin aquarium incident was unfortunate, it serves as a learning opportunity for cities and tourist attractions worldwide. It highlights the need for continuous improvement in safety standards and emergency preparedness to ensure such incidents are prevented in the future.

Berlin, with its rich history and dynamic present, remains a testament to the enduring spirit of exploration and discovery. For those planning their next adventure, this city continues to stand as a beacon of resilience, diversity, and an endless array of experiences waiting to be discovered.

Andy Higgs
Andy Higgs

I know what it's like to go from being a crazy backpacker without a care in the world, via being a vaguely sensible parent to being an adventurer once more. In other words, evolving into a Grown-up Traveller.

Like everyone else, I love to travel, have visited a lot of countries and all that but my big thing is Africa.

I also own and run The Grown-up Travel Company as a travel designer creating personalised African itineraries for experienced adventurers

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