Gärten der Welt: The world through gardens
Berlin is the greenest capital in Europe; evident from its more than 2,500 open spaces and the fact that a fifth of its urban area is comprised of forest. Lovers of botany, nature and the exotic will enjoy the Gardens of the World, a tourist attraction that celebrates the art of gardening, located in the district of Marzahn.
The Gardens of the World are probably the most extensive collection of international gardens on the planet. The area exhibits several different enclosures, each inspired by a specific culture and designed by artisans from its respective country. Less well known than other parks such as Tiergarten or Mauerpark, its beautiful design and originality has made it a major tourist attraction. The four euro entry cost is more than reasonable for the quality and size of the gardens. However one of its drawbacks is the lack of information leaflets, or maps to navigate around the huge area. There is also a no information in English, which is quite an oversight considering that a large percentage of visitors are not residents of Germany. Unfortunately because of this, many people will not be able to learn the stories that lie behind each design.
Walking through the complex visitors can get an idea of what a Korean landscape might look like, relax by tranquil lakes, see a world of colour before their eyes with the tulip fields, and in mere minutes can be transported to different cultures and time periods. It is the perfect location for strolling and relaxing, but there are also other possibilities. There are huge areas to enjoy, many stalls for food and drink, open spaces ideal for playing frisbee, enjoying a picnic or savouring an ice cream in the shade of a leafy tree. In essence it is not only a museum of gardening but also a place of recreation for a day with family and friends. In total there are seven gardens: Japanese, Korean, Balinese, Renaissance, Chinese, Oriental and Christian, as well as a hedge maze and field of tulips. By the end of 2014 the latest addition will be open, the English garden, which is currently under construction. It would be interesting to ask the owners if they plan to include the Spanish beauty of gardening in the future, with flowers such as red carnations, sunflowers and lilies.
The Garden of Bali, known as the “Garden of the three harmonies” is one of the more unique gardens. Hosted in a large greenhouse, you can expect the humidity and tropical climate of Bali as you walk through the door, with plants and flora to match. Something you are unlikely to find anywhere else in Berlin.
Close by you will find Garden Seoul, the garden of Korea. This is a splendid gift from the Asian city, donated to the German capital. Its landscape, colourful and calm, mimics a typical Korean landscape featuring a host of decorative elements such as waterfalls and a gazebo.
The Japanese garden is another beautiful area, one that embodies peace, serenity and relaxation. With the sound of running water and birds in the background, it strikes a perfect balance of form and colour – with different shades of green, yellow, white and fuchsia. Visitors can see plants such as Japanese pieris and maple. The pond symbolises the history of modern times, and following on from there visitors are treated to the final stage, a Zen pebble garden, perfectly aligned and meticulously designed, adorned with beautiful rock formations and small trees which have a similar form to bonsai. Even with other visitors around, this is an area where you can really feel at peace with the world.
The section on China is probably the greatest work of art in terms of a recreational park. It is the largest Chinese garden in the continent, and was created in cooperation with the city of Beijing (a city that is twinned with Berlin). It’s attractions include an impressive teahouse, streams, lake, exotic plants and large decorative rocks that have impressed visitors since it first opened in 2003. The Tai Hu, the great stones, were imported from China to help craft a truly authentic garden. Visitors wishing to take this feeling of authenticity one step further can also participate in a ceremony that includes the tasting of traditional Chinese herbal teas.
The Christian garden, one of the more recent, is a cloister garden with intricately designed, lettered walls. It integrates the beliefs of various cultures and symbolises the idea of paradise described in both the Koran and the Old Testament.
At the next garden you are not only transported to another culture, but to another century. Suddenly you find yourself in the Renaissance of the Medici, Florence and Michelangelo, somewhere in sixteenth century Italy. Here you find a beautiful balance of architecture and garden design, combining several elements that make it easy to identify the culture and historical period. The statues, plants in terracotta containers, a fountain at the centre and the enchanting colours immediately bring to mind the heart of several Italian cities.
For younger visitors, the most enjoyable area will most likely be the labyrinth and maze garden – inspired by both the English Hampton Court Palace and the French Chartres Cathedral. A huge life-sized puzzle, those who can find their way to the centre are greeted by a tower offering a view over the whole maze. After this you can then find yourself at a very different, yet gorgeous style in the Oriental garden. Here, water plays a more prominent role, with many elegant fountains and water features. There is also incredible attention to detail to be seen in the intricately carved wooden walls and columns. Drawing its inspiration from Arabic culture, a space with a truly unique charm has been created – one of the jewels of the recreational park.
What began in 1987 as a stage for a horticultural show is now one of the most unique tourist attractions in Berlin. Stunning themed gardens from Italy to China offering their greenery, plants and beauty – even more beautiful in spring as everything begins to blossom. Although quite far from the centre of Berlin, it is a relatively short distance to travel in order to be whisked away to other places of the world. A taste of the world’s cultures and gardens coming together in a space of just over 100 hectares.