The Berlin outside the ringbahn is one of my favorite sides of Berlin to explore, and my latest discovery is the stunning Schloss Biesdorf. Did you know that Berlin has more than one palace? And that some of those palaces are located in what used to be the GDR?
The Italian architecture style on German soil
This Italianate-style villa is nestled within beautiful parkland, and it has been restored to its former glory after years of neglect, much like Sleeping Beauty’s fairy tale castle. Only a quick 20-minute S-Bahn ride from Alexanderplatz with the U5 or the S5, Schloss Biesdorf is located in the Marzahn-Hellersdorf borough, an area of pride for many East Berliners, past the Tierpark Zoo and north of Köpenick.
From the Biesdorf S-Bahn station (S5), signs lead the way to the Schlosspark, a public art gallery and event space. Same with the U5, but from the U-Bahn, you walk around 5 minutes more than with the S-Bahn.
Last week, I visited the Schlosspark on a sunny and cold day and was mesmerized by the colors surrounding me. The trees, whose leaves were on their way to full green and the small flowers open for birds and bugs to feed on, created carpets of colors along the sidewalks and pathways. It was simply stunning. The Schlosspark is a delight to visit in any season.
The good and the bad history of Schloss Biesdorf
First, this palace was originally commissioned by Baron von Rüxleben in 1867/68. And later purchased by Werner von Siemens in 1887. The building was renovated and extended by the electrical engineer, inventor, and industrialist. His son Wilhelm von Siemens later took over the property, and Royal Garden Director Albert Brodersen was engaged to redesign the park.
Brodersen created sequences of different park areas using the existing visual axes, resulting in a landscape of varied terrain. The focal point remained the Schloss with its Italian charm. The Schloss served as the home of the von Siemens family for many years until Wilhelm died in 1919, when it was divided into apartments. How amazing it would be to live in such a lovely location, huh?
In 1927, the city of Berlin purchased the estate and opened it to the public. A police station was established on the ground floor of the Schloss. After Hitler’s rise to power in 1933, the local Nazi Party Association and the Office of Public Welfare moved in, building an air raid shelter connected to the cellar.
On the night of 20th April 1945, the Schloss was gutted by fire, and it remains unknown whether it was arson or a bomb attack. When the war ended, the building was made safe, and the Red Army used the large hall as a memorial hall for its fallen soldiers.
Read More: A video showing how Berlin was after the bombings in 1945
The office rooms were extended, and further structural changes were made, including reducing the room heights on the ground floor by inserting a false ceiling. In the early 1960s, the Schloss served as a village club, and in the mid-1970s, it was converted into a cultural center with a branch of the Marzahn Borough Library located in the building.
In 1979, Schloss Biesdorf was added to Berlin’s list of heritage sites.
What can you find now at Schloss Biesdorf?
It wasn’t until after German reunification after the fall of the wall that the city of Berlin began to take an interest in the Biesdorf estate again. A foundation was established to ensure that the Schloss and its parkland would eventually regain their historical appearance. The ‘Immediate Program to Save Biesdorf’ started in 2000 to raise funds for the reconstruction work, estimated to cost 8.5 million Euros!
Between 2002 and 2007, the palace facade was renovated and reconstructed. And after additional funding was secured, the project was finally completed in 2016, and it now hosts wonderful art exhibitions. I spotted many contemporary German artists displaying their intriguing and eye-catching works on my visit.
The Mayor of Berlin opened the Schloss as the ‘Centre for Art and Public Space Schloss Biesdorf.’ Since February 2018, the estate has been managed once again by the Department of Culture of the Borough of Marzahn-Hellersdorf.
The palace has two floors open to the public, and the art gallery occupies most of the space. The upper floor is filled with works of visual art in many different forms, from sculptures to paintings and photography. On the ground floor, there’s a room dedicated to the history of the place.
It is a room with illustrations covering the wall showing all the vital moments in time for this palace. You also will find a cafe and restaurant with different options for food, coffee drinks, beers, and other cold beverage.
Read more: All the other UNESCO sites we’ve visited.
In conclusion, Schloss Biesdorf is a hidden gem in Berlin that has undergone a fascinating history of destruction and restoration. Today, it serves as a public art gallery and event space, showcasing changing contemporary art and cultural heritage exhibitions.
Visitors can also enjoy the charming Schlosscafé, the beautiful parkland surrounding the villa, and much more! This palace hosts various events such as film shows, concerts, poetry readings, and workshops just a few minutes from the city center. My tip is to reserve a table and have lunch outside on a sunny day! That is what I’ll do this summer.
Schloss Biesdorf is a must-visit destination for anyone exploring Berlin beyond its well-known tourist attractions.
Schloss Biesdorf is a must-see in Berlin for sure
Alt-Biesdorf 55, 12683 Berlin
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