In our previous mind travel in Berlin I mentioned that writing for trips in a lockdown period is a contradictory act. So contradictory as the optimism which is seeded and grows in parks. Well, the sow(ing) must go on!
Park am Gleisdreieck
The 31-hectare Park am Gleisdreieck is located on the former railway wasteland of the Anhalter and Potsdam freight depot and is separated into 3 parks: Ostpark, Westpark and Bottleneck, all connected via paths.
Ostpark has a natural playground with sand, stones and mud instead of play equipment. Moreover, around 950 trees and bushes have been planted whereas ex-gravel areas now bloom as eco-friendly zones for the colonization of beetles and lizards. Ostpark includes 3 sports fields and a skateboard park with the largest pool in the city, in its planning of which participated skaters so that the most modern training options to be achieved.
Westpark is a children’s paradise as it has playgrounds, climbing frames, trampolines, ping pong tables and other sport facilities. In addition, in the park you may find Beach61, an urban sports club with 25 beach volleyball fields that you can rent per hour as well as for the well-being lovers there is an adjacent relaxation area, ideal for yoga and Tai-Chi.
One of the park’s highlights is definitely the railway in Bottleneck, a 3-path area where old tracks and signals coexist harmoniously with a unique biotope, favored by the well-preserved vegetation. Bottleneck would also be a much-loved spot for your picnic or your dog’s play since it’s covered by a wide lawn space.
Park am Gleisdreieck is important for the city’s open space concept, according to the Senate Administration, and constitutes part of the 40-kilometer hiking path 5 (Panke to Teltow Park), one of Berlin’s 20 green main paths.
Rudolph-Wilde-Park, known also as Stadtpark Schöneberg, extends in 7 hectares of Schöneberg district. Historically, it was the area’s city hall (Rathaus Schöneberg), after the construction of Berlin’s Wall (1961), where USA President John Kennedy said “Ich bin ein Berliner” and so the square was renamed John-F.-Kennedy-Platz in his memory (1963).
At the eastern entrance of the park stands proud the Goldener Hirsch (Golden Stag), as a nod to the local heraldry as well as a reminder that until the 19th century the area was covered by forest. The eastern with the western part is segregated by the monumental Carl Zuckmayer bridge whereas under that is the U Rathaus Schöneberg, one of the most beautiful subway stations of Berlin.
Consequently, on the western side of the bridge, you will see a little duck pond with weeping willows. The pond’s view is perfect if you want to relax, either solo or with company. If you prefer a sunbath or a picnic on the lawn, though, you may walk further, crossing the playground, the ping-pong tables and other recreational pitches.
If you continue, following the park’s route (and the tennis court!), you will get to the whole-green Volkspark Schöneberg-Wilmersdorf. This route from Rudolph-Wilde-Park until Volkspark Schöneberg-Wilmersdorf is around 30’ walk, is bike-friendly and many joggers choose it for their training. Why not also you?
Schlossgarten Charlottenburg (Garden of Charlottenburg Palace) is located in the homonymous district of Charlottenburg. It was named by Friedrich I in his wife’s Sophie Charlotte memory (1705) and in front of the palace you will see the statue of their son Friedrich Wilhelm I.
A significant part of it is the restored on its authentic Baroque style garden that includes an orangery, theater, mausoleum and pavilion. The park’s natural environment with woodland, lawn and a carp pond will cover your training and relaxation needs. There is even a playground for the young visitors and if you love yoga mind to take your mat with you, you will appreciate its tranquility. Enjoy your time at Schlossgarten…as royals!
Volkspark Friedrichshain is the 1st public park in Berlin (1848) and extends in 52 hectares, between Friedrichshain and Prenzlauer Berg. A great part of it was destroyed by allied bombing during World War II but, thankfully, the Märchenbrunnen (Fairytale Fountain) survived. The fountain contains 106 stone sculptures from traditional German fairytales and it was constructed for the city’s children in a period when rickets and typhoid were endemic. After the war, 2 small artificial hills were created out of demolished bunkers and were covered with rubble from the ruins of destroyed buildings.
Today, Großer Bunkerberg (78 meters) and Kleiner Bunkerberg (48 meters) look completely natural and offer a stunning view of the city’s center. Additionally, significant monuments of the park are the bronze replica of Friedrich der Große son of Friedrich Wilhelm I, the World Peace Bell as a gift from Japan to East Berlin for the unity against nuclear war (1989), the Friedhof der Märzgefallenen (Cemetery of the fallen of March) and a memorial for 3.000 German members of the International Brigades who died in the Spanish Civil War (1968).
Moreover, the park has an open-air theater, wide sunbathing areas where barbeque is allowed, a swan pond, playgrounds and sports facilities for tennis, beach volleyball, skateboarding, rock climbing and swimming. In a nutshell, history, recreation and sports are all synonymous with Volkspark Friedrichshain!
Fritz-Schloß-Park extends in 12 hectares and is the largest park in the Moabit district. The hill in the park’s center has a historical explanation as, after World War II, the place was used as dumping ground for ruins from allied bombing and later (1955) was covered in dirt, similar to Volkspark Friedrichshain practice. Moreover, in Fritz-Schloß there is a memorial to the “Trümmerfrauen”, the women who helped in Berlin’s rubble clearing and rebuilding after the war. Adjacent to the park is located the Poststadion, a site of events during the Summer Olympics of 1936, other sport facilities and the famous Vabali Spa(!).
I recommend Fritz-Schloß for jogging since its 1,1-kilometer long circular route is well-lighted and marked. The route is gravel-covered and is a bit demanding due to its slopes, but the high trees’ shade will keep you cool during your summer exercise. In addition, in Fritz-Schloß you will find fitness equipment, playground and dog garden!
Moabit Prison Historical Park
Moabit Prison Historical Park, only 10’ by foot from Fritz-Schloß-Park and 5’ from the Central Train Station of Berlin, used to be a prison in the past (1849-1955). At that time, crime was considered a contagious disease and so until 1910, it was followed a penitentiary practice in which the prisoners were isolated both in the detention facilities (520 individual cells) as in the courtyard, forbidding any kind of communication among them.
Today, on the multi-level lawn you will recognize the 3 wings of the cells whereas, on the 4th, the hornbeams indicate the small size of them. Furthermore, you may get in a cell’s representation and listen (in german) a part of “Moabit sonnets”, which was written by Albrecht Haushofer (1903-1945) during his imprisonment (1944/45). The sentence on the prison’s wall is also part of his work. Moabit Prison served, among other, as a dungeon for Gestapo during the Nazi dictatorship. The walls, the ground’s reliefs and the officers’ residences create the intense atmosphere that dark tourists look for!
The interest in green spaces has been increased during the coronavirus pandemic, pointing out their value so for our health as for the urban ecosystems’ sustainability. Therefore, either we visit a big park in Berlin or the small park of our neighborhood we have to be respectful, today for tomorrow!