Park Life in Berlin

September 22, 2011 by

Free Things to Do, Local Recommendations, Things To Do

Lots going on at Mauerpark in Berlin
- photo courtesy of Alexander Puell via Wikimedia Commons

No less than three of Berlin’s inner city parks have been the subject of feature-length documentaries in the last year, profiling the friendly collision of social groups and subcultures which make them such a great insight into urban life here. Get a taste of the real Berlin in these open spaces.

Mauerpark (Wall Park) is, as the name suggests, on the site of the Berlin Wall, and you can still see a graffiti-covered remnant of it here. On Sundays the park hosts an extensive flea market, perfect for picking up old vinyl, new t-shirts or that second-hand edition of the complete works of Lenin you’d always promised yourself. In warmer months the brave and shameless front up to a huge crowd as they take to the outdoor karaoke stage known as “the bearpit”.

Make tracks for Görlitzer Park, in the district of Kreuzberg, which was once criss-crossed by trains creaking into the now demolished station, Görlizter Bahnhof. This is a relaxed place – even the hash dealers will leave you alone if you show no interest in their sales pitch. Enjoy the passing parade: Turkish families barbecue, old women walk their dachshunds and hipsters brave the sun. An old goods warehouse hosts the popular Edelweiss café as well as a black-light minigolf course, and in winter any snow-covered sloping surface resounds with the manic cries of toboganning toddlers.

Neukölln’s Hasenheide is a rambling expanse with a petting zoo, an outdoor cinema (in summer), a Hindu temple and, like Görlitzer Park, a generous selection of herbal remedy vendors. A steep hill dominates the center of the park, but you won’t find it on any pre-war maps. It was created from the rubble of bombed-out ruins piled up by the so-called “Trümmerfrauen” (rubble women) after the Second World War; a memorial remembers their efforts.

- James Conway

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