Castle Park Niederschönhausen Recalls A Gracious Past

Berlin’s Pankow-Niederschönhausen district, with its late 19th-century Villa District, has always been just a little more upscale than its next-door neighbors Prenzlauer Berg and Wedding. In fact, during the years of the GDR, its Majakowskiring area was reserved for Communist Party bigwigs. Today Pankow is Berlin’s Embassy Central.

Pankow (named for the River Panke) and tiny nearby Nydderen Schonhusen were acquired by the Holland Brederode family in 1662. The Countess Donha, wanting to build a small palace there, filled in the riverside meadows which flooded frequently so her palace would remain dry.

Frederick III bought the Palace in 1691 but let it fall into disrepair, and it remained neglected until Frederick William II decided to use it as a summer palacein which to stow his wife Elizabeth Christine. Although he never visited her there during the next half-century, he supplied her with funds to develop the Castle Park.

The Park, open daily between March and October, was originally laid out as a rococo French pleasure garden. In the mid 1800s, it became one of Peter Joseph Lenne’s English landscape garden with vast lawns and broad tree-lined avenues. Several bridges constructed then cross the River Panke on its way through the park.

For two days each June, the Schlosspark Niederschönhausen comes to life when a crowd of about ten thousand joins nearly fifty street and performance artists and thirty musicians for the Pankow Arts festival.

They are scattered throughout the Park’s 39 acres/16 hectares, ready to entertain young and old alike with face painting, miming, and circus acrobatics. There’s music to please every ear, from pop and jazz to swing and samba!

The rest of the time, however, Castle Park Niederschönhausen is a lovely place to experience Berlin’s gracious side!

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