The Lustgarten (Pleasure Garden) is a quiet lawn, popular during the warmer season and well liked by tourists and Berliners alike as a pleasant bit of greenery to rest and lounge in at leisure. It is situated in front of the Altes Museum – the oldest museum in the Museumsinsel (Museum Island) ensemble between Karl-Liebknecht Straße, Kupfergraben and the majestic Berliner Dom (Cathedral).
Lustgarten became a royal garden in the 17th century
The gardens had an eventful history. The plot of land was used as vegetable garden, growing fruit and vegetables – including the potato for the first time - for the nearby Stadtschloss (City Palace). Inspired by the Dutch style in vogue at the time, Great Elector Friedrich Wilhelm (1640 – 1688) had it transformed into a royal garden by landscape garden designers Michael Hanf and Johann Sigismund Elsholtz. This involved ornate landscaping including flower beds, an orangerie and a herb garden. Statues, grottoes, bird cages and fountains added charm and elegance to the public promenade.
Lustgarten was redesigned to serve as an accompaniment to the classical buildings
In character with the more pragmatic than leisurely aspirations of Friedrich Wilhelm I (1713 -1740) the pleasure garden was reduced to a military parade square and it was only in 1790 that grass was planted here again. Finally in the architect Schinkel's day, coinciding with the building of the first public museum - the Altes Museum in 1830, the area was once again designed to serve as a suitable accompaniment to the classical buildings.
After the collapse of the Weimar Republic in 1933, the Nazis paved down the area in 1934 in order to facilitate its use as a parade square.
Today's Lustgarten reflects its original 19th century appearance
After the war as the area became part of East Berlin in the Soviet sector it was renamed Marx Engels Platz (today's Schlossplatz) and utilised as a public space for marches and public gatherings.
Christian Gottlieb Cantian's 1828 granite bowl has been restored to its original site opposite the Altes Museum. The public garden today is the result of the work carried out in the 1990s to restore it as closely as possible to its original 19th century appearance.