Tiergarten, a name that had fascinated me for the longest time. Countless references to it in many books that I have read over the years had made me really curious about this place. The description of a vast green park in the middle of a busy city made me want to see it, walk around in it.
Tiergarten is to Berlin what Hyde Park is to London, and Central Park is to New York.
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And so when this holiday to Berlin was planned, a trip to Tiergarten was in my ’ must-do’ list, and my family had to be a part of it.
I chose a bright, sunny day with lots of time at my disposal for my visit. I knew that it wouldn’t be possible for me to cover the entire 210-hectare area of the park, but I wanted to cover as much as I could. I wanted to walk and lose myself in the vast, green expanse
The first look of this incredibly long stretch was indeed magical. It seemed as though I was entering this green paradise, which seemed to stretch for miles and miles. Tall trees extending till almost the sky, lush, green grass, scattered with the leaves that had fallen from the trees adding that brown to the green!! The sheer joy of trampling on those leaves and hearing that crackling sound… And then those beautifully paved paths to walk on. What a pleasure!
How was it all so green, I wondered to myself as I walked along. Of course, the weather was one of the reasons, and then I also figured that the park was full of these lovely water sprinklers that kept changing directions as if to water each part equally. I stopped next to a couple of them to check how far they could reach and got wet in the process!! Some reach there!
And if one were to stand there very quietly, one could hear the water as it sprinkled itself on the grass and the greens.
Then every once in a while, one also came across a water body that seemed to be tucked away in a little corner surrounded by the omnipresent beautiful greens. The sight of the almost green coloured water with the foliage of the surrounding areas falling into it was incredible. I just couldn’t help staring at it. Not to forget the lovely bridges built across the water bodies. Crossing over the bridges was like getting surrounded by nature from all around. It was so calming.
And mind you the park is in the middle of the city with the traffic going past it at all times. But the beauty is that at no time while one is in the park can one hear the noise of the traffic or anything like that. One does come across other people walking by or cycling by, but there is no disturbance of any kind. The people there are also in a mood to exercise or spend some quiet time. It is so peaceful, so serene that one loses track of the outside world.
What makes this park different from all the others I have been to are these little, little conclaves that one comes across as one walks along. These are small areas that have been cordoned off from the main walking paths by hedges or trees with little gates at the entrance where people can sit and relax. These areas are marked by fountains, flower beds, sitting areas and statues. So if one gets tired of walking and needs to rest, then these places are just for that. I saw groups of people sitting and chatting and even playing around with their children. I also saw a young kid’s birthday being celebrated there! What a different way to do it!! No other noise, just the squealing and shouting of children.
We also chose to spend some time in one of these.
The park is rich in history with statues and structures marking historical events in the city of Berlin. Building of these I learnt was a way in which the Germans wanted to honour all those who had contributed to their history and culture. The park has these boards placed at strategic points which impart these nuggets of history. Read them, soak yourself in history and walk on.
The park mind you is not just a green area. Ever so often, I came across these absolutely enchanting flower beds with flowers of different hues and colours, which seemed to take my breath away. I could just stand and take in the fragrance of the beautiful flowers. And those little trees that seemed to have sprung up from the middle of the flower bed.
And while walking if one were to look up what a fantastic view!! It was as though only a part of the sky could be seen from in between the meeting point of the tall trees! In a way, it was as though the greens didn’t want you to see or experience anything else other than just them.
The park which dates back to 1527 has been a witness to the many facets and stages of the history of the city of Berlin.
It was founded primarily to serve as a hunting area for the Elector of Brandenburg, but expansion began soon after when acres and acres of land were purchased, and the garden was expanded.
But gradually from being a private hunting ground of the rulers, the Park started getting transformed into a forest park for the public. A lot of what we see today was added on during the time of Frederick the Great like the ornamental ponds, mazes and the salons or conclaves.
The Park continued to be significant even under the Nazis but was considerably damaged during the Second World War. It became a part of West Berlin after the war. It got destroyed substantially at the time as a large part of the wooded area was felled and used as firewood because of the shortage of coal in the city. The water bodies, the bridges, the statues, everything got destroyed, and the park lost most of its glory.
But then the city didn’t want to lose such a major attraction and so the decision to rebuild it was taken. The government started the project of rebuilding the Park, and it was reforested with the first tree being planted in 1949. And after the reunification of the city efforts were made to beautify it even more which have been continuing. And in fact in the modern times in keeping with the requirements, a few modern features have been added. For instance, there is now a tunnel that runs from the North to the South that allows for movement of cars, trams and trains.
Other than the gardens the park consists of a zoo, a playground, monuments and during winters some of the ponds can be used for ice skating as well.
A park steeped in history contributing towards the beauty of a great historical city, a place for rest and relaxation and a source of fresh air for the people of the city. No wonder it is referred to as ‘the lungs of Berlin’.