An honest review of 5 famous Euro spots.
With the help of discount Euro airlines and hostels where you share your room with random drunk teenagers, it’s now easier than ever for even the poorest skaters to experience the best European skate spots. Over the last few years, I’ve had the priveledge to skate some amazing (and not so amazing) Euro spots that I grew up watching in skate videos. Some were well beyond my expectations and others, not so much.
Spot 1: Bänke Berlin – Berlin, Germany
Date & amount of time skated: March 2015/August 2018 – 1 Week
The Bänke benches of Warschauer Strasse in Berlin have undergone quite a few changes throughout the years. In 2016, the benches were actually totally removed by the city, only to be replaced by the city after such a huge uprising from the skate community. Nowadays, you can google “Bänke Berlin” and the spot is listed online as a skatepark that’s “open 24 hours”.
See Denny Pham skate Bänke Berlin as the first spot in this clip:
I last skated Bänke about four months ago and every bench currently has a fabricated metal covering that grinds and slides flawlessly. None of the benches were destroyed in any way. The ground at the spot is not perfect but definitely way better than what is normally found in Germany (just don’t slam by landing on these weird little light cover things on the ground).
While there is really nothing else but the benches to skate here, it’s pretty crazy how perfectly set up this spot is for lines. The benches are perfectly spaced apart and, at least when I’ve been there, there’s rarely many people sitting on them. It might not be the greatest spot in Europe, but Bänke is probably one of the best spots in Germany.
Final Verdict: 4/5
Spot 2: Hôtel de Ville – Lyon, France
Date & amount of time skated: June 2018 – 1 Week
Deeply inspired by Vincent Jugnet’s #mallgrabvideo, Lyon’s “Josimards Crew” and as a long-time fan of Cliche Skateboards, I made a trip to Lyon last summer to discover the legendary spot known as “HDV”. Upon arriving to the spot, I skated around thinking of all the iconic JB Gillet lines that went down there (think JB Gillet in “Freedom Fries”).
In short, I would describe HDV as “old”. I had pretty high expectations for this spot. What I failed to take into account was that most of the videos I had seen of it were from 10-15 years ago. My advice to anyone going there now: prepare to slam at some point while skating across the flatground. The ground here is so F’d up that you have to be totally focused on dodging cracks/holes just to get to your trick. Also, forget skating the pyramid/statue like it’s a skatepark ramp. The pyramid is raised off the ground enough that you have to pop to get onto the bank, making it pretty tough to skate.
Here’s a little clip of my HDV session:
There is one redeeming factor about HDV that’s unlike any other spot I’ve skated: the ledges. Every ledge at HDV is made out of this crazy concrete compound that I’ve never seen anywhere else. Even when the ledges look like raw, unwaxed concrete, they all grind amazingly nice. Every grind on these ledges gives a really unique feeling like you are grinding rough concrete but with the slide-ability of a new marble ledge. This reason alone makes HDV worth a visit, just be prepared for a lot of cracks.
Final Verdict: 3/5
Spot 3: MACBA – Barcelona, Spain
Date & amount of time skated: April 2015 – 1 Week
Ahh, the “meeting point” of European skateboarding. MACBA is probably one of the most iconic spots in the world, alongside places like EMB in San Francisco and LOVE park in Philly. If you want to see and meet pros, MACBA basically has a constant flow of European and US skaters coming through. While I didn’t see any US dudes during my one week visit, I was lucky enough to see local legends like Javier Sarmiento, Flo Marfaing, and Jesus Fernandez.
What makes MACBA so magical is the ground. The ground at MACBA is like it was created for the absolute perfect balace of slide-ability and grip for urethane wheels. The saying is that you can also pop every trick higher at MACBA. If you get tired of skating the endlessly long, perfect-height ledge that grinds for days, you can skate the four stair, the out ledge, sloped manual pad, ledge-to-drop, or big three around the corner. MACBA is really the most fun place I’ve ever skated. In my opinion, every skateboarder needs to experience MACBA at least once in their life.
Final Verdict: 5/5
Spot 4: Place de la République – Paris, France
Date & amount of time skated: August 2017 – 2 Days
Even though I only skated this spot for 2 days, Place de la République in Paris is at the bottom of my list. I can’t say I specifically went to Paris to skate here, but I was definitely hyped to skate it after seeing Instagram clips like @blobysblobys skating the ledges.
My first impression was that the tiles on the ground here are spaced just far enough apart that rolling over every tile crack is annoyingly loud. As for the spot itself, there are some pre-fabricated skatepark-style ramps made out of concrete. They’re okay to skate, but not really that special (Note that there is a new ledge structure here since my visit). The ledges are pretty standard, super-waxed concrete. However, I really only skated one of them, considering that nearly every ledge had random people sitting on them. I was there on a weekend, but this spot was filled with actual crowds of people and tourists which made it pretty hard to skate.
It’s difficult to complain about a famous skate spot. Of course, République is still a lot of fun to skate, but personally I would not travel to Paris specifically to skate here.
Final Verdict: 2/5
Spot 5: Stazione Centrale – Milan, Italy
Date & amount of time skated: July 2017 – 3 Days
I never thought I would skate this spot and it just kind of happened by chance that I did, but Stazione Centrale in Milan turned out to be one of the best spots I’ve ever skated. I actually skated it just a few months into recovery of my third ACL surgery, so I didn’t do much. However, I got a couple grinds on the small ledges and enjoyed checking everything out – it’s super sick.
Check out Jacopo Carozzi showing how this spot is really skated:
While some areas of the spot have rough ground and cracked tiles, the majority has beautifully smooth ground and ledges. Most of the ledges there were not too ground down and still had a sharp edge. They are also made out of this special concrete that was similar to what you find at HDV in Lyon (super smooth grind). In addition, the spot is not really in an area with a ton of people, so it’s mainly open for skaters to enjoy. Overall, this spot was way nicer than I expected and I can’t wait to go back.
Final Verdict: 4/5
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