Despite being the capital city, Berlin is still an eco-friendly place famous for its green areas. It is full of parks where the locals take a stroll, exercise or just spend their time in a green way. Don't pass by without stopping!
Paris has Versailles, and Berlin has Charlottenburg, which is the gem of Baroque architecture and the park art of the 18th century. The complex got its look after the French culture and Versailles strongly impressed the Prussian emperor. The palace boasts one of the largest collections of the 18th century French paintings.
I come to Charlottenburg to wander in the park and the forest surrounding the palace. The atmosphere of peace and tranquility typical of the king realm reigns in the place. It’s also a good place for a picnic. A short visit can always drag on for the whole day.
Gärten der Welt
This multicultural park is a true socialist idea. Here you will find the largest Chinese garden in Europe, as well as Japanese, Korean, Bali, Italian, and for some reason, Christian gardens. Gärten der Welt is a pretty interesting place, it's like you are making a tour of the botanical gardens in different cities of the world. Sometimes the garden hosts international festivals, including Bali Music Festival.
In summer I always like to picnic in this unique park. Grunewald covers 3,000 hectares, so better take a bike. The forest has several must-see places. The first one is an artificial hill Teufelsberg, which stands for “the Devil mount”. It was intended to be the viewing point towering 80 meters above Berlin. There is also a tower used by the Americans to wiretap Germans during the Cold War. In the modern times they wanted to open a hotel there, but the radiation background was allegedly abnormal, so the idea was abandoned. Later David Lynch wanted to open the Institute for Transcendental Meditations, but this never happened. Nevertheless, you can still meditate without this at the viewing point covered with graffiti with a picturesque view of the forest and the city. The second must-see place is Schlachtensee Lake. Its banks are good for picnics. The water is clear, fishes are swimming, there are many people playing Frisbee and dogs jumping in the water for a stick. A beerhouse and Jagd Restaurant are not far away.
The Sanssouci park demands your whole day and everything for a picnic. It boasts extensive grounds with lakes, lots of sculptures and monuments, whereas its gem is the Sanssouci Palace of Friedrich II, intended to be a place where the emperor could have rest from the routine of his political and married life. Voltaire visited him there. Wonderful hanging gardens where grapes for the court used to be grown deserve a special mention. My favourite place in the garden is the rose garden.
Closed in 2008, this gigantic airport now hosts concerts and exhibitions. The surrounding area was rearranged into the Tempelhof Entertainment Venue.
The remarkable fact is that despite €60 million of state budget allocated for Tempelhof, it is a perfect example of Berliners' independence in choosing leisure activities. Cyclists, skaters, bikers, kitesurfers, skateboarders, frisbee fans, runners, football players, kite flyers and soap bubble blowers coexist in harmony on the landing field. You can even join the community of truck-farmers, who plant small vegetable gardens to grow fresh vegetables. They even scheduled Gardeners and Truck Farmers Festival at Tempelhof for 2017, and strive to turn the enormous roof of the airport building into a planting area.
Tiergarten (a German word for 'Animal Garden') is a park stretched for 210 hectares in the very heart of Berlin. You can go boating down the Spree River which runs through the park. A 500-year-old Tiergarten looks like an enchanted forest – wild and a bit scruffy. There are wilds and sunlit meadows, flower beds and vines, stubs and moss. The park is adjoined by the famous Berlin Zoo.
There is the Soviet War Memorial in Treptower Park commemorating Soviet soldiers who fell in the Battle of Berlin. Its granite flags feature the text in both Russian and German reading, “Eternal glory to the Soviet soldiers who laid down their lives in the struggle for the liberation of Humanity”. The sarcophagi are empty, while the soldiers are buried in the earth along the Memory Alley. As I'm a Russian, It is my human duty to regularly lay flowers there.
Today Treptower Park is a great place for picnics, jogging, bike riding and strolls. It’s a great idea to rent a boat and make a short journey along the Spree, e.g. to reach the Isle of Youth to enjoy the time in a café. On weekends a flea market is open in the park. You're very welcome to bargain.
Spreepark / Kulturpark Plänterwald
Spreepark, also known as Kulturpark Plänterwald, is an old amusement park built back in 1969. No investor was interested in this place since it had closed in 2001. Today the park is used as a location for photoshoots and filming horror movies and music videos, and also as a tourist attraction. Its atmosphere is perfect for experiments: rusted Ferris wheel and a rollercoaster are covered by vines, shabby beast models peep out of the tall grass, just like in Jurassic Park. Only the security guard with a dog will bring you back to reality. By the way, the dog is pretty angry, so do not climb over the fence. You can always enter the Spreepark legally by paying the entrance fee (€10). The rumor has it that the park will someday host open air concerts – now that is something worth celebrating!