The Tiergarten is the largest and most famous of the many parks in Berlin. It’s a relaxing island of calm in the middle of the city, and a perfect place to spend a few hours walking around, cycling, or sitting down for a picnic. The Tiergarten takes on different colors each season: lush green in the winter, red-gold in the fall, and white in the winter. It is also the home of many of Berlin’s famous sites, such as the Brandenburg Gate and the Berlin Zoo.
The green Tiergarten in the heart of Berlin. Image volker.davids via Flickr
While Tiergarten actually refers to the whole neighborhood, including the Reichstag and the Potsdamer Platz, when people say Tiergarten today they are usually referring to the huge 520-acre park in the center of Berlin. The park, which is bordered by the Spree river to the north, used to be the kings’ private hunting grounds. King Friedrich II, who wasn’t so keen on hunting, opened up the grounds to the people of Berlin, and the Tiergarten has been a defining feature of the city ever since.
There’s plenty to do in the Tiergarten itself. There are approximately 23 kilometers of bicycle paths within the garden, and Berliners and tourists enjoy going out for an afternoon or evening stroll or cycle. In the summer, you can find picnics and barbecues all around the garden. There are a number of places to sit and eat – one of the nicer places is the coffeehouse in the English Garden, a corner of the Tiergarten modelled on 19th century English gardens.
View of the Tiergarten from the Bahntower. Image jurnen_nl via Flickr
There are also a number of statues and memorials within the grounds of the garden. Probably the most famous is the Holocaust Memorial, on the eastern edge of the park. Officially, this memorial specifically commemorates the Jews who were killed in Europe, but in order to include other populations victimized by the Nazis, other memorials have been set up. The Memorial to the Sinti and Roma Victims of National Socialism was built in the garden, just south of the Reichstag, and the Memorial to Homosexuals Persecuted by the Nazis, which caused some controversy when it was first erected, is situated near the main Holocaust Memorial.
Visiting the Tiergarten
The Tiergarten is, of course, open all day and night, all year long, but is at its busiest on sunny Spring and Summer weekends during the day, when the locals come to take advantage of it.