A friend of us from New York came to Berlin a few weeks ago and we wanted to show him something that most people don’t visit here in Berlin. This is why we brought him to Nordbahnhof Park.
Park am Nordbahnhof, like the park in known in german, is one of 2,500 public parks and gardens in Berlin. For those who don’t know, this accounts for more than a third of the city being made up of forests, parks and rivers. Almost a fifth of the city is covered with trees!
But back to Nordbahnhof Park. The area is defined by three different layers of history. The oldest layer is the railway installations of the old Stettin Railway Station that used to be there. The second layer is the border installations and the death strip of the Berlin wall that can be found alongside the park. Finally, the youngest layer is of an urban wasteland which has being reclaimed by fast growing nature filled with birch trees and birds.
The History of Nordbahnhof Park
Like a lot of things in Berlin, Nordbahnhof Park started as something completely different. These things happen when a city has such a rich history as Berlin has. This 5,5 acre park started out as Stettiner Bahnhof since the trains that arrived here would be coming from Pomerania and Stettin, the german way of writing the name of the polish city Szczecin.
The station was first built in 1842 and, with the increase of train travel, a bigger station was built in 1876. After the Second World War, the Soviet Union occupied Pomerania and handed the territory to Poland. In 1950, the station was renamed as Nordbahnhof by East Germany in a effort to remove all traces of the former german territory.
In 1952, the station was closed due to heavy structural damage and the fact that the train tracks that led through Nodbahnhof also led through West Berlin. Between 1955 and 1962, the station was demolished but the train tracks were kept in place and you can still see it today.
In 1961, with the construction of the Berlin Wall, the area where Nordbahnhof Park can be found was turned into a now mans land. Blocked by two separated pieces of the Berlin Wall, the area became a death strip and you can still see where the watch towers used to stay. The big piles of stone that you can see in the pictures here are placed where the towers used to be.
Nordbahnhof Park Today
With the fall of the wall in 1989, the nature in the are sprung back to life with birch trees and tall grass giving shelter to a small habitat of small animals and birds. As early as 1995, plans for a park started coming up but it was only in 2004 that the project became real. With a cost of almost 3 million Euros, the park became what it is today.
If you walk long enough on the park, you are going to see something we really like. Liesenbrücken lies in the end of the park, surrounded by a fence. This bridge used to connect the train tracks from Stettiner Bahnhof to the main railroad. Nowadays, the bridge was put under Denkmalschutz and there were plans to form a connection between Volkspark Humboldthain and Nordbahnhof Park but it seems that nothing is happening. As far as we can tell, the bridge is just locked up and rusting.
When you reach the bridge, go out of the park and you will be able to see a small hidden piece of the Berlin Wall. Situated inside the Saint Hedwig Cemetery, this is one of the many reasons why we like this park so much. If you watch Run Lola Run and pay a lot of attention, you can see that during a few moments, Lola runs close to this small piece of the Berlin Wall. Trust us on that.
Nature and a lot of history share the same place in this little oasis. And they are waiting for you to discover and protect the area. Nordbahnhof Park is surrounded by fences and you can enter it through gates like what used to happen in classic garden designs. Behind those gates you are going to walk along a little oasis in the middle of Berlin.
When we were walking back to the train station, we decided to walk outside of Nordbahnhof Park since it looked like the streets were covered in less ice. This is when we manage to find a tunnel that, we believe, goes under the old train tracks. If this makes sense, those tunnels used to go under the Berlin Wall as well. If you walk alongside the park, you can see that there were more of those in the area but seems that they were bricked down a long time ago.
Too bad there was a heavy steel fence in front of it and we would love to go there and see what is there. Lets hope one day we will find that gate open.
All the pictures here were taken using a Canon PowerShot G3 X that were are testing for Canon.