It does not matter how long I have lived in Berlin, how many new experiences I collect or new places open which grab my attention for a night or an afternoon or more, we always return to the Prater. The beer garden is at the top of the hill, I tell our guests who are usually staying at The Circus on Rosenthaler Platz, down at the bottom. We can walk there, after work or school, for a beer and a sausage under the chestnut trees, and although we no longer walk home it is not far, by tram or bike, to Wedding and so it has remained a fixture of our spring and summer months even after we moved out and away from the neighbourhood.
The Prater – restaurant, theatre and beer garden – is not only a fixture of my Berlin, but of the city in general. People began drinking here in 1837, back when the city limits were down at Rosenthaler Platz and the Prater was a day trip into the countryside, a place of escape and refuge from the city. Berlin would break out over the next seventy years, swallowing the beer garden and surrounding it with streets and buildings, but it would remain not only a place of leisure and Sundays free from cares and worries but also, reflecting its position in the heart of the new working class districts providing the labour for Berlin’s rapid industrialisation, a place of political gatherings and agitation as well.