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Moabit Historical Park Cell Prison (Zellengefängnis Moabit)

  • Geschichtspark Zellengefängnis Moabit
  • Geschichtspark Zellengefängnis Moabit
  • Geschichtspark Zellengefängnis Moabit

The Moabit Cellular Prison History Park is now located on the site of a former prison. The Ruheoase is a real insider tip and stands out among the youngest parks in Berlin.

The Moabit Cellular Prison History Park is an exceptional green space in an unusual location. It is located on the site of a former prison and is surrounded by the intact prison walls. The five-metre-high brick walls shield the park, inaugurated in 2006, from the hustle and bustle of the main station directly opposite and are probably also the reason why this quiet oasis is still an insider tip despite its central location. The Geschichtspark is the most outstanding creation among the youngest parks in Berlin. The concept of keeping alive the past of the place, which was used as a prison for more than 100 years, by means of gardening elements has succeeded throughout. The result is a convincing symbiosis of relaxation and memory.


The three entrances to the Historical Park on Invalidenstrasse, Lehrter Strasse and Minna-Cauer-Strasse form gateways to an isolated world. Isolation was also the purpose of the Moabit cell prison, which was built here, outside the city walls, from 1842 to 1849. At that time, the building implemented very progressive views on the accommodation of prisoners. Crime was seen as a kind of infectious disease, and experts believed that spatial separation would prevent prisoners from relapsing. The modern prison therefore no longer consisted of the usual communal cells, but of around 520 individual cells.

Isolated world

The desired "moral purification" had partly inhuman consequences. All communication between the occupants should be prevented, even during free movement, all conversation should be prevented. However, as the inmates whispered to each other in the courtyard, three circular walking courtyards were soon built, each of which was divided into 20 one-man areas. With high dividing walls, the prisoners remained strictly shielded from each other even during the few free hours. These inhumane farms were not abolished until 1910.


When designing the Moabit prison, the architect and Schinkel student Carl Ferdinand Busse (1802-68) closely followed the model of the Pentonville Prison in London, which consisted of a central building with four wings for the cells and the administrative wing surrounding it in a star shape. The Berlin complex also had a church, a school, residential buildings for the prison officers, gardens, two cemeteries and a place of execution. Built according to the most modern standards, the Moabit prison was considered a model prison in Prussia. Only in 1955 did the gates close for good, and the last 300 prisoners were transferred. In 1958 the complex was demolished except for a few remnants.


A park deals with history

In the history park, the most important features of the former prison are represented by ground reliefs, plantings and a few buildings. First of all, this is the star-shaped ground plan of the building: three of the four cell wings are recognizable by rising or sinking lawn levels. On the surface of the fourth tract, hedges of hornbeam indicate the location and size of individual cells. A holding cell is replicated by concrete walls and can be entered. If you go inside, lines of the "Moabit sonnets" can be heard, which the poet Albrecht Haushofer (1903-45) wrote during his time in prison in 1944/45. The quotation that adorns the prison wall in large letters is also from this work.

Square concrete pillars joined to form a cube mark the location of the central building from which the cell wings were monitored. The circular square is bordered by dense blood beech trees that show the location of the administration building. Also the three outdoor playgrounds described above are - differently designed - marked. Juniper trees represent the prisoners in their yards.

Depressing confinement

The simple design elements and planting give an impression of the oppressive confinement to which the prisoners were exposed. The high prison wall, on the outer wall of which there are three officers' residences, further intensifies the oppressive effect. The original buildings have been listed since 1992.

Information boards in the history park Moabit cell prison

One of the most prominent prisoners was the shoemaker Wilhelm Voigt, who later became known as "Hauptmann von Köpenick". As a 17-year-old he came to Moabit for three years (1866-69). It was the beginning of a long prison career. In 1878 the 21-year-old Max Hödel was executed here for attempting to assassinate Kaiser Wilhelm I. During the Nazi dictatorship, parts of the prison served, among other things, as a Gestapo dungeon. The writer Wolfgang Borchert spent more than nine months in prison here in 1944 for "decomposition of military power". Among the imprisoned opposition members was also the actor and singer Ernst Busch (1943). After the failed Hitler assassination attempt on July 20, 1944, resistance fighters were imprisoned in Moabit. Of the 306 registered prisoners only 35 survived the end of the Nazi regime. Information boards at the park entrances explain the history of the prison and remind of the fates of the inmates.

High recovery value

Despite the historical references, the park has a high recreational value for the current user. The lawns with individual trees are generously dimensioned. The area next to the residential complex on Lehrter Straße is overgrown with dense woods, through which a path winds. Rest areas and playgrounds have been set up here. Scattered throughout the grounds are natural stone paving, pavement kerbs, slate block remains of the fountain on Olof Palm Square by the Zoological Garden and red sandstone of the Moltke Bridge. They are reminiscent of the time when the site was a storage area for the civil engineering office.


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Lehrter Straße 5b
10557 Berlin
Opening hours
in summer daily until 9 pm, in winter daily until 6 pm

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Last edited: 18 June 2020