Berlin: live like a local, visit a park (part 1)

Berlin, as the center of the German economy and culture, is the largest European capital and also one of the greenest, since almost 1/5 of it is covered by trees whereas its long history is dispersed everywhere, even in the parks. Together we will see the most sustainable, those that respect and preserve their previous history, protect and highlight the natural environment and meet the Berliners’ contemporary needs. Remember, if you wish to live like a local in Berlin, your visit in one of the below parks is a must!

Körnerpark

Körnerpark is located in the cosmopolitan district of Neukölln. After World War II, the park was degraded but, later, the reconstructions restored it in Neo-Baroque style, similar to a palace garden(1977). Starting from its northern part, you will be surrounded by a colorful flower garden and following the eastern way, you’ll see a cascade with fountains. On the opposite side, to the west, there is an orangery, which reopened in 1983 as the municipal ‘Galerie im Körnerpark’, hosting exhibitions of German and international contemporary artists. Moreover, the gallery’s forecourt is offered for free music events, attracting a young audience to the park.

I would not suggest Körnerpark for training since it’s a relatively small park. But although its size of 2,4 hectares, its vegetation is rich and its energy young, making it a relaxing green space which has been also listed as a historic garden (2004). Last but not least, Körnerpark was a former gravel pit, so it’s around 5-7 meters below the street level and you can have a panoramic view of it. Cool?

© Despoina Fostiropoulou, voyagingtheworld.com

Natur-Park Südgelände 

Natur-Park Südgelände is located in Tempelhof-Schöneberg, on the former Tempelhof railway yard (1889-1952). In the 1970s, the construction of a new freight station was proposed; however, due to the local community’s reactions to the protection of the biodiversity which was developed in the area, the idea was finally abandoned. In 1995, the site was donated to the city government and, today, much of the old railway infrastructure remains in the park keeping its history alive. Among other relics, popular is so the ‘Baureihe 50’ steam locomotive (1939) as the 50-meter-high steel water tower (1927), whereas the locomotives’ repairing hall now hosts exhibitions and cultural events like the Berliner Festspiele.

Apropos, the park supports the artists’ free expression providing them space with characteristic the ODIOUS artists’ group that has left its steel sculpture traces throughout the park, especially in the “Giardino Segreto”. In addition, when the park opened in 1999, 3,4 of its 18 hectares were classified as landscape and nature conservation area, protecting more than 500 species of birds, insects and plants. Important is, also, that Natur-Park Südgelände is the only place in Berlin and Brandenburg where hawkweed (Hieracium fallax) has been spotted and grows. Undoubtedly, this park constitutes a completed suggestion for those interested in history, art and biodiversity!

Furthermore, Natur-Park Südgelände is connected via a bridge over the S-Bahn with Hans Baluschek Park, an ideal place for your sport or recreational activities.

© Despoina Fostiropoulou, voyagingtheworld.com

Tempelhofer Feld

Tempelhofer Feld, in the peripheries of Neukölln and Tempelhof-Schöneberg, is closely related to the German military and aviation history. It used to be a parade ground for the Prussian forces in the 18th century and later, in the 1920s, it was built the Tempelhof Airport, serving the public air transportations until 2008. Shortly after the closure of the airport, the place reopened for the public as the Tempelhof Park (2010). I might say that this park is the Berliners’ pride. Its extent of more than 300 hectares with 10 entrances makes it one of the largest public inner-city spaces worldwide and the largest urban park in Berlin.

A 6-kilometer cycling, skating and jogging trail, a barbeque space, a walking field especially for dogs, an enormous training, relaxation and picnic area as well as the bullet holes sporadically on the ground, remnants of World War II, will convince you that your visitation in this endlessly flat park is a unique experience. Undoubtedly, Tempelhofer Feld is a positive example of revival where an abandoned airport has gain back life sustainably. Oh! And in case of a windy day, you may go to the airstrips and become windsurfers or even pilots…of your kite!

© Despoina Fostiropoulou, voyagingtheworld.com

Tiergarten Park

Tiergarten extends in 210 hectares of the homonymous district and is Berlin’s 2nd largest urban park after Tempelhof. Its history begins in the 16th century as a hunting area for Friedrich Wilhelm I. His son and successor, though, Friedrich II (Frederick the Great) decided in 1740 to open Tiergarten to the public. At the end of the same century, Peter Joseph Lenné was commissioned to configure the park with influences from the Εnglish gardens.

Sadly, World War II damaged Tiergarten’s cultural elements whereas some of its statues were buried by Berliners in the nearby Schloß Bellevue in an attempt to be rescued. But the park’s condition was about to worsen. As a sector of the British Occupation in West Berlin, the area suffered serious deforestation since the wood was used as fuel due to coal shortage (1945/6). From the 200.000 trees, only 700 survived. Thankfully, in the post-war era’s plans were included reforestation, with 250.000 young trees from across Germany, and rebuilding of the park, removing its Baroque and regional art features and highlighting the natural landscape.

In this tranquil park with the meadows, the ponds, the flowerbeds and the landscaped avenues, you can jog, cycle, playfield sports, have a picnic or barbecue and relax after a long working or sightseeing day. Besides, Tiergarten borders with significant spots of the city [e.g. “Haus der Kulturen der Welt”, Spree River, Brandenburger Tor, Soviet War Memorial, Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, Reichstag (seat of the Bundestag), Budeskanzleramt (Federal Chancellery), Potsdamer Platz, etc]. In addition, in its southeastern part, where the little visitors enjoy a large playground, you’ll see the Memorial to the Sinti and Roma victims of National Socialism as well as in its heart you may admire the Siegessäule (Victory Column), a beloved attraction of Tiergarten’s and Berlin’s view with a cost of 3€!

© Kalliopi Melikioti

Thielpark

Thielpark is protected as a garden monument and is considered one of the busiest parks in Berlin-Zehlendorf. Its variety from forestry trees and bushes to an artificial stream and two small duck ponds with weeping willows, compose a beautiful natural scenery. Also, the altitude’s mild diversifications give you a delightful optic of the parks’ pines, lindens, robinias, oaks and impressively high yew trees.

Moreover, Thielpark has a playground and is connected with its adjoining park, known as Triestpark, via paths that lead along the edges of another green area and pond as well as of a large boulder, the so-called Thielstein, which has been listed as a natural monument by the city of Berlin. Thielpark is always a good idea for the kids’ game, your daily training and a walk with your dog or solo!

© Despoina Fostiropoulou, voyagingtheworld.com

Viktoriapark

Viktoriapark is located in the historically wine-growing area of Kreuzberg. Οne highlight is the preexisting from the park Neo-Gothic national memorial dedicated to Friedrich Wilhelm III (1821) at the top of a 66-meter-high hill that symbolizes the victorious campaign over Napoleon Bonaparte and the liberation of Europe from the French domination. Another highlight is the 24-meter-high artificial waterfall (1893), an excellent replica of the Riesengebirge (now known as the Krkonoše), which was a top destination of Berlin’s upper class in the past.

This 16-hectare park has slight slopes, lawn, landscaped paths and I recommend it so for your training during the week as for your meetings during the weekends. You may enjoy your friends’ company under the memorial viewing the city’s center dressed with the sunset’s colors or relax solo hearing the waterfall. Viktoriapark is for you(th!).

Writing for trips in a lockdown period is maybe a contradictory act. So contradictory as the optimism which is sowed and grows in parks!

The sow(ing) must go on…

By Despoina Fostiropoulou

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