Like Görlitzer Park, Mauerpark in the Prenzlauer Berg district sits on the site of an old train station, the Nordbahnhof. That station was the southern terminus of the track between Berlin and Stralsund, on the Baltic Sea.
If you look down on Mauerpark, which translates to Wall Park, you’ll be able to spot where the rail tracks entered the Nordbahnhof, but that’s only one of its links to the past. A more frightening one is the section of the Wall remaining in the Park.
In unhappier times, the land which is now Mauerpark, served as a 1km Death Strip separating East Berlin from West. The Berlin Wall bisected the railyard, and the eastern section is now Mauerpark. It lies on the boundary between Prenzlauer Berg and the Wedding district.
What the park lacks in sylvan charm it more than compensates for in atmosphere. It’s broken up with a series of metal and concrete sculptures. Along the top of the slope which backs to the Ludwig Jahn Sports Stadium runs a massive concrete barrier which once served as the inner wall of the Death Strip and has become a masterwork of graffiti.
Mauerpark has a leash rule, but lacks the police presence to enforce it so dog owners feel free to let their pets roam. That’s the spirit of the place. It’s not the kind of park where you instinctively keep off the grass, partly because there’s not much there except grass, and partly because the grass there is not in the best of shape!
In warm weather the park is packed with kids tossing Frisbees, throbbing with the sound of bongos, and cluttered with litter. Spontaneous soccer and basketball games spring up. Beer flows freely. Drugs aren’t terribly hard to score.
Since 2004, there’s been a Sunday Flea Market next to Mauerpark. It’s an ideal setup simply because the Prenzlauer Berg population is in constant flux, and there are always plenty of people either moving out with things to unload, or moving in and looking for bargains in household goods.
Expect enormous crowds and bargaining sessions with the sellers. Take the time to enjoy a currywurst. When you’re through shopping, head for the Mauerpark Bearpit, a stone amphitheater where, each Sunday afternoon, there’s a public karaoke festival! :-)
By the way, you can get to the Flea market by taking the M10 tram to the Ludwig Jahn Stadium stop. It runs from 8:00AM to 6:00 PM.
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