Dip into Berlin's beautiful public baths
A century-old swimming pool may not sound particularly appealing, but many of Berlin's oldest public baths are incredibly lavish affairs, originally designed, no doubt, to encourage year-round, healthy exercise.
For sheer spectacle, top marks go to the neo-classical Stadtbad Neukölln (above).
Built in 1914, its soaring columns, mosaics and water-spurting bronze walruses earned it an instant reputation as one of Europe's most beautiful public baths.
Fully restored in 2008, it offers, besides a larger and smaller pool, various spa-style amenities such as a thermal bath and sauna - good news for those who prefer to avoid the often crowded swimming facilities themselves.
Almost as impressive is Charlottenburg's Art Nouveau Stadtbad (below), the city's oldest municipal facility. The exterior of the building is as lavishly decorated as the inside: worth seeing even if you're not planning to take a dip.
A completely different setting is provided by the Stadtbad Mitte, a little-known gem of Bauhaus design. When built in 1930 it featured Europe's first 50m pool, and this light-filled space still provides one of Berlin's most spectacular swimming venues.
Other pools of note include Kreuzberg's small but atmospheric Baerwaldbad, with poolside changing rooms surmounted by beautiful stonework (below), and Prenzlauer Berg's disused, crumbling but hugely atmospheric Stadtbad Oderberger Strasse.
Dating from 1902, the pool is currently being renovated, and should open its doors to a new generation of bathers by Spring 2015.
*Update: the venue has been restored and converted into a boutique hotel and restaurant. The pool should be available for periodic public use from October 2016 *
Stadtbad Charlottenburg: Krumme Strasse 10, 10585 Berlin
Stadtbad Mitte: Gartenstraße 5, 10115 Berlin
Baerwaldbad: Baerwaldstrasse 64-67, 10961 Berlin
Stadtbad Oderberger Strasse / Hotel Oderberger: Oderberger Strasse 57/59, 10435 Berlin