In the Tiergarten, Berlin

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On my first ever day in Berlin, roughly twelve years ago in October 2001, I walked across the Tiergarten. It wasn’t planned. I had started my day at Alexanderplatz before walking down Unter den Linden with the idea of seeing the Brandenburg Gate. I was almost through it, with the buses and cars, when I realised that it was completely covered in scaffolding. I remember thinking that it was a shame that I would not see it on my visit to Berlin, for who knew when I would return.

Out the other side and looked down the length of the Straße des 17. Juni in the direction of the Victory Column. Ah yes, I had seen that before, surrounded by throngs of people dancing during the Love Parade. I had looked at a map in the hostel that morning and seen that if I wanted to see Zoo, the Ku’damm and the rest of the West, I need only walk through the park… the Tiergarten, Berlin’s “green heart”. I hadn’t quite realised how big it was, and how long I would be walking beneath unseasonably warm October sunshine…

The Tiergarten is, I suppose, Berlin’s oldest park. The forests west of the old city had been fenced off in the 1520s as hunting grounds for the King… over the following centuries different members of the royal family made their own mark on the grounds, until in 1881 the royal rights were abolished and the park was incorporated into the city. The Tiergarten, as I walked through it, still follows the designs laid out by Peter Joseph Lenné in the 1800s… but this is a reimagining of that vision, as anyone who has seen pictures of 1945 will know: by the end of the Second World War the entire park had been stripped of trees, the wood burned in the stoves of the beleaguered city, and the grounds landscaped for strolling and walking replaced by two and a half thousand emergency allotment gardens.

The rebirth of the park would take place under the guidance of the West Berlin government, as the Tiergarten sat up against the boundary with East Berlin and would – from 1961 – run right up to the Berlin Wall that passed in front of the Brandenburg Gate. Most visitors to Berlin will penetrate the edge of the park at the very least, but even if the walk was long on that October day, I would recommend anyone to take a couple of hours to wander along the footpaths to the ponds and gardens, and marvel at the fact that we have this wonderful green space right in the centre of our city. The view from the top of the Victory Column is not bad either…

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Words: Paul Scraton
Pictures. Katrin Schönig

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2 thoughts on “In the Tiergarten, Berlin

  1. Sheila Scraton

    Beautiful pictures, Katrin and, as always, words that stimulate the mind. Made me think of walking through Berlin last October with you surrounded by magic autumn colours.

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