The Tiergarten in central Berlin is an oasis of greenery and ponds in the middle of modern buildings of glass and chrome. I’d looked on Google maps before we arrived in Berlin and knew our hotel was directly across the street. But I didn’t realize that right across the street also are the Brandenburg Gate, the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, and the Reichstag. So we criss-crossed the Tiergarten often during our days in Berlin as we walked from place to place seeing the famous sights. And we enjoyed every foray into this quiet place of tree-lined paths. It’s refreshing to meander through here after a long day of seeing all the sights.
The 520 acres of the Tiergarten make up the oldest public park in Berlin. It’s been compared to Central Park in New York. The Tiergarten began as a royal hunting grounds, then in the late 1600s Friedrich III, Duke of Prussia, declared it open to everyone – a “park for the pleasure of the general population.” During WWII, bombs damaged the park. With so much of Berlin suffering after the war, people cut down the trees in their desperation for firewood. Most of the green growth in the Tiergarten today dates only from the 1950s.
The park is home to a variety of monuments, as well as a zoo. Here are a few of the features we were able to see.
The Beethoven-Hayden-Mozart Memorial celebrates these composers. It’s impressive and large. When you get close, you can observe the bullet holes still in the marble from the battles of WWII. The memorial was taken down in 2000, restored, and reinstalled in its place of honor has among the tall trees.
The Soviet War Memorial commemorates the Russian soldiers who died liberating Berlin from the Nazis. The marble used to build it came from Hitler’s Chancellery. Two T34 tanks are on display, and a statue of a Soviet soldier rises into the air, standing guard over the memorial.
The Victory Column stands above the tree line and can be seen from far away. Construction began in 1864 to celebrate the Prussian victory over the Danes. By the time it was finished, it also included memorials to Prussian victories over Austria in 1866 and France in 1871. This column miraculously survived WWII.
A plaque in the sidewalk marks the spot where U.S. President Ronald Reagan gave his famous speech in June, 1987 demanding that Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev tear down the Berlin Wall. It would take more than two years after this for the wall to come down.