• Groer Tiergarten Berlin
  • Groer Tiergarten Berlin
  • Groer Tiergarten Berlin
  • Groer Tiergarten Berlin
  • Groer Tiergarten Berlin
  • Groer Tiergarten Berlin

Großer Tiergarten


Fasanerieallee, 2014; photo: Thomas LeBas / minigram
Fasanerieallee, 2014   photo: Thomas LeBas / minigram

As the green lung of Berlin and its oldest park, the "Großer Tiergarten Berlin" has always been a sightseeing attraction for both citizens and visitors to Berlin.
Beginning in the 17th century, Prussian kings started to turn the once marshy hunting grounds in the low-lying reaches of the river Spree into a baroque pleasure ground with avenues and clearings. From 1833 onward, Peter Joseph Lenné redesigned the Tiergarten as a landscape garden modelled in the English style.

After the Second World War, the Tiergarten was almost completely devastated and deprived of at least several hundred old trees which were used for heating. Thanks to a large number of tree donations, it was possible to replant the park from 1949 onwards under the supervision of its park director Willy Alverdes. Numerous measures aimed at preservation and restoration of park monuments were implemented for the 750-year anniversary of Berlin in 1987, and since reunification in 1990 the eastern part of the park close to the former border has not only seen significant historical structures renovated and important monuments restored, but also new ones erected.

Over the centuries, the Tiergarten has been a constant subject for artistic contemplation: the high artistic tradition of Tiergarten depictions by Jakob Philipp Hackert and Daniel Chodowiecki in the 18th century and Karl Friedrich Schinkel in the 19th century ties in with the paintings of Max Liebermann, Lesser Ury, Franz Skarbina and Oskar Kokoschka during the secessionism of the 20th century.

From hunting grounds of prince-electors to royal pleasure grounds

The origin of the Großer Tiergarten dates back 400 years. In the 16th century, the prince-electors fenced in the forest interspersed with meadows and wetlands in the low-lying reaches of the river Spree and set it aside for hunting purposes. After the first avenues were created by the "Great Elector"Friedrich Wilhelm (1640–1688) in connection with the construction of Schloss Charlottenburg (from 1695), a wide swathe was cut through the Tiergarten in an extension of the avenue known as "Unter den Linden". Thus the "Großer Stern" with its eight avenues and the "Kurfürstenplatz" with its seven avenues radiating out into the Tiergarten in the shape of a fan were born.

Soon after his accession to the throne, Friedrich II had his architect G. W. von Knobelsdorff develop the Tiergarten, the eastern part in particular, into a "pleasure ground". In terms of their basic structure, Floraplatz and Venusbassin date from this period.

Map of the Tiergarten from 1765 by G.W. von Knobelsdorff; source: Stadtmuseum Berlin
Map of the Tiergarten from 1765 by G.W. von Knobelsdorff   source: Stadtmuseum Berlin

The landscape garden in English style

Towards the end of the 18th century, the court gardener Justus Ehrenreich Sello started designing some parts of the park in the scenic style. According to his plans, the years 1786–1790 also saw the creation of the Schlosspark Bellevue for Prince Ferdinand of Prussia and, from 1792, the "Neue Partie" with the Rousseau Island.
Since a thorough draining of the forest wetlands in the Tiergarten was needed in the 19th century, Peter Joseph Lenné, having been occupied in Sanssouci for two years already, was commissioned in 1818 to create a new design which was finally realised in several stages between 1832 and 1839. Taking advantage of the natural incline between the Landwehrgraben and the river Spree, Lenné developed a waterway from the Landwehrkanal, designed with many bays and islands, which drained the park via the Charlottenburger Chaussee into the river Spree.

Plan from 1835 with the beautification measures carried out by Peter Joseph Lenné; source: Landesarchiv Berlin
Plan from 1835 with the beautification measures carried out by Peter Joseph Lenné    source: Landesarchiv Berlin

Old trees randomly left on the extensive meadows and sparse grove-like forests now provided visitors with charming and ever-changing views. The footpaths drawn in broad sweeps trailed as close to the water as possible, with benches in resting places inviting visitors to stay awhile.
After 1840, the lake known as Neuer See was created through the extension of the grounds around the former pheasant run. With its boat rental, Neuer See has been a popular tourist destination since the mid-19th century.

The Großer Tiergarten during the Imperial Era

During the Imperial Era in the late 19th and early 20th century, the further erection of monuments was carried out as a matter of priority, in particular the construction of the Siegesallee (which no longer exists), the creation of ornamental designs, such as in the Rosengarten, and the creation of children's playgrounds.

National Socialism, wartime destruction and reconstruction

From 1936 onward the Tiergarten formed a part of the plans of Hitler and Speer for redesigning Berlin. This included the extension of the East-West axis and the enlargement of the Baroque plaza called "Großer Stern".

Former high road "Charlottenburger Chaussee" that was developed as part of the East-West axis; photo from the 1940s; source: Landesarchiv Berlin
Former high road "Charlottenburger Chaussee" that was developed as part of the East-West axis; photo from the 1940s
source: Landesarchiv Berlin

At the end of the Second World War in 1945, the Tiergarten was turned into allotments and agricultural zones and served as a supply of firewood. Of about 200,000 original trees, only about 700 survived intact. The restoration of the Tiergarten was finally implemented between 1949 and 1959, during an emergency programme under Tiergarten director Willy Alverdes. He designed a spacious landscape recreation park area with open meadowlands while leaving the baroque main axes and the roads and water system introduced by Lenné largely intact.