Concrete, tarmac, grey facades – this is what urban life looks like in all too many cities. Berlin is different. In every district, small parks and green spaces beckon residents to step outside for exercise or relaxation. Steeped in history, Volkspark Friedrichshain is one of the most beloved among them. Only a few hundred yards north of Strausberger Platz, the noise of the city disappears and urban dwellers find themselves succumbing to the soothing influence of nature.
Fairy-Tale Fountain at Volkspark Friedrichshain – Rotkäppchen, Quelle: Shutterstock – Sergey Kelin
The Park’s Historic Origins
Volkspark Friedrichshain was completed in 1848 after a two-year construction period. It was Berlin’s first communal park: a true people’s park, built by the city rather than by royals or aristocrats. The park was designed by Gustav Meyer and based on drafts by his former teacher, famous Prussian architect Peter Joseph Lenné. Of course, the park has evolved over time, with the most rapid and significant changes happening during World War Two.
The Park in 2016 – a Guided Tour
For anybody entering the park from the direction of Strausberger Platz, there are many ways to leave the city behind for a while. From the entrance on Friedenstraße, the first stop is a thatched cottage, known as the “Pavillon”, which lures visitors with its scenic beer garden and various music events in the evenings.
Entertainment and Exercise
Carry on walking towards the open-air stage. During the summer months, this is the site of the radioeins open-air cinema. Curated by a local radio station, the cinema seats up to 1,500 people, making it one of Berlin’s largest. From May to September, there are nightly screenings of new and recent films.
A few yards behind the cinema, the park borders on the grounds of Friedrichshain Hospital. The path leads on to the most recent addition to the park, the “Neue Friedrichshain”, which includes an 820m (897yd) running and skating loop around a number of beach volleyball courts, also known as the “Hippodrome”. On weekends in particular, this part of the park is a popular spot for exercising or meeting up with friends for a barbecue.
Berlin may not be the most obvious place to come for Alpine sports, but the boulders in Volkspark Friedrichshain attract climbers from all over the city.
There is also a steepish hill that turns into a natural toboggan run during the winter months if there is enough snow.
Fairy-Tale Fountain and Schoenbrunn Restaurant
After all this physical exhaustion, Schoenbrunn Restaurant is the perfect choice for some light refreshment. During the summer months, the restaurant’s beer garden is another lovely spot to hang out and unwind with a nice cool drink or two. From here, it’s not far to walk to the Fairy-Tale Fountain, where this tour of Volkspark Friedrichshain terminates. As the name suggests, the fountain features characters from various fairy tales, including Briar Rose and Snow White.
Fairy-Tale Fountain at Volkspark Friedrichshain, Quelle: Shutterstock – Sergey Kelin