The industrial workers of Berlin’s Friedrichshain district once made it the most populated part of the city. In 1840 Berlin’s leaders decided to create a park giving the workers what the city’s elite already enjoyed at the Tiergarten.
In 1848, the 100th anniversary of Frederick the Great’s ascendancy to the throne of Prussia, the Volkspark Friedichshain was dedicated. Over the years, however, the Volkspark Friedrichshain—the People’s Park—seems to have become more of a memorial to memorials than it is a memorial to Frederick the Great!
One touching memorial is the 1913 Fairytale Fountain (Märchenbrunnen), devoted to the children of East Berlin, where rickets and typhoid were endemic. With water-spouting frogs and characters right out of the Brothers Grimm, it will delight you no matter your age!
There are several monuments to soldiers who fought in different wars, including the Spanish Civil War, the March Revolution of 1848, and the 1918 Red Sailors’ Revolution at Kiel on the Baltic Sea. The Red Sailors’ Revolution Monument, with its inscription of Lenin’s words “Lay firm the foundations of working-class rule, unite against the opposition,” is a slightly unsettling reminder of days gone by!
Another unsettling reminder is the residence of the park's two “bunker” mountains, built from rubble left behind after the parks two World War II antiaircraft towers were demolished. Over 2,000,000 m³ of bombing rubble was removed to the park from the rest of Berlin and fashioned into artificial mountains, the Kleiner Bunkerberg (with toboggan run) and Großer Bunkerberg.
Now covered with plantings, they are indistinguishable from the park's natural features. Between them is the Japanese Pavilion with its Peace Bell, a 1989 gift from Japan to East Berlin.
As a die-hard film fan, my personal favorite attraction in Volkspark Friedrichshain is the Open Air Cinema, where everything from current film releases and film classics to the major prize winners at Berlin’s International Film Festival are shown each year between July and September.
The Cinema was recently upgraded so that its new benches have backrests, making them almost as comfortable as the ones you’d find in a regular movie cinema. With the stars shining over Berlin, and the stars shining on the screen in front of me, I’m completely swept away by the experience!
Enjoying a beer or a late breakfast at the GDR Pavilion (10:00 AM to 2:00 AM) by the Swan Pond isn’t bad either! ;-)
You find the Volkspark Friedrichshain in the northern part of the district of Friedrichshain (who would have though), at Friedenstraße and/or Am Friedrichshain.
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