Pfaueninsel — Where Romance, Illusion And Peacocks Reign

Pfaueninsel means “Peacock Island.” If that doesn’t turn your thoughts to romance, perhaps knowing that Pfaueninsel on the Havel River near the Wannsee is one of the favorite destinations for Berlin’s couples might.

Pfaueninsel, with its marvelous view of the Havel River, became a private escape for Friedrich Wilhelm II in 1793. He wanted a personal hideaway where he could keep his mistress, Minchen Encke. Foreshadowing the future architectural excesses of Mad King Ludwig II, he set about turning the island into an artistic masterpiece.

All of Peacock Island is artifice. When you find yourself in the midst of a clearing with a perfectly framed view, it’s not the work of Mother Nature. The palace at the Island’s southwest end was deliberately designed according to Freidrich’s original vision, “…ruined knight’s castle springs to mind, will have them build something Gothic straightaway.”

The new-but-seemingly-old castle took four years to complete. It’s constructed of oaken panels which, when seen from afar, appeared to be white stone. The third-floor window frames were left gaping to resemble ruins.

The cast-iron bridge leading to the castle was the first such in Berlin. The entire castle façade was designed simply to create a desirable of fact when Friedrich viewed it from his main residence, Potsdam’s Marble Palace!

Pfaueninsel is crisscrossed by a network of winding paths leading from one spectacular view or architectural wonder to another. The island is full of exotic plantings with a splendid rose garden and flowerbeds. Friedrich and his successor Friedrich Wilhelm II brought a large number of exotic animals to the island, and those animals, in 1842, became the foundation stock of the Berlin Zoo.

The Pfaueninsel dairy, at the northern end of the island, was also designed to resemble a Gothic ruin, while the stable was built to resemble a chapel. At the island’s southern end, there is a Swiss house built in 1829 simply because of the current architectural trend for Swiss buildings!

The peacocks arrived on the island during the 1820s. Allowed to run free, they soon took over the island and gave it the name it’s known by today.

Pfaueninsel Opening Hours

The ferry to the Island runs November through February: 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM; March through October: 9:00 AM–5:00 PM; April through September: 8:00 AM–6:00 PM: and May through August: 8:00 AM-8:00 PM.

The Palace is open from April to October, Tuesday- Sunday from 10:00 AM-5:00PM.

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