A walk in the park - the Tiergarten and the Siegessäule

I get on the eastbound S-Bahn at Zoologischer Garten. I have in mind that I'll go round to Alexanderplatz, but end up getting off at Bellevue instead and heading out into the Tiergarten.

The Tiergarten (animal garden, more formally called Großer Tiergarten - great animal garden) started life as a hunting reserve for the Kurfürsten (prince electors) of Brandenburg. Under king Friedrich II (otherwise known as Friedrich der Große - Frederick the Great) of Prussia (also Kurfürst of Brandenburg), the reserve was turned into an ornamental park, with Friedrich not having much interest in hunting.

The trees were cut down after World War II to be used as firewood. In their place, potatoes were planted, to help combat the food shortages of the immediate post war years. It has of course been replanted with trees since!


The Siegessäule with subway entrance


In the middle is the Siegessäule (victory column), completed in 1873. It stands at the centre of the Großer Stern (great star), where five roads converge. Leading eastwards from the Großer Stern towards the Brandenburg Gate is Straße des 17. Juni (17th June Street). Originally called Charlottenburger Chaussee, it was renamed in memory of the protests in East Berlin on June 17th 1953, which were brutally crushed by East German police and Soviet soldiers. The border with East Berlin was just at the end of Charlottenburger Chaussee; the street continues beyond the Brandenburg Gate as Unter den Linden (beneath the lime trees), where the June 17th protests came to a head.

The Siegessäule used to stand in front of the Reichstag, a location which, come the 1930s, Hitler had his eyes on as the site of the Großer Platz (great square), the centre of his new Welthauptstadt Germania. Because of this, it was moved to the middle of the Großer Stern in 1938-39. At the same time, the Charlottenburger Chaussee was widened (creating an east-west axis to counterbalance the north-south axis I mentioned in relation to the Schwerbelastungkörper) and a new set of tunnels were added to allow easy pedestrian access to the Siegessäule.


A subway entrance on the Großer Stern



The subway entrances were designed by Albert Speer. There are four in total, two on the east side and two on the west side of the Großer Stern, one on each side of Straße des 17. Juni. This one is on the north-west side. Over on the south west side, it looks like the motorists have got some entertainment as they wait at the lights:


A man with devil sticks


While it might look like the man is knitting an invisible jumper, it's actually a form of juggling - called devil sticks apparently.

The tunnel brings you up in the middle of the Großer Stern, right below the Siegessäule.


The Siegessäule, seen from the subway exit


It was designed after the Prussian victory in the Danish-Prussian war in 1864; cannons captured in the war and gilded decorate the bottom ring of the column. During the column's construction, the Prussians also fought wars against Austria and France, in 1866 and 1870-71 respectively. Their victories in these wars were also commemorated on the Siegessäule - the second ring is decorated with Austrian cannons, the third with French cannons. The fourth ring was added by the Nazis to commemorate the annexation of Austria in 1938, increasing the column's height by 7.5 metres. It now stands at a height of 66.89 metres (measured to the highest point of the statue); there's a viewing platform at 50.66 metres, which offers nice views across the Tiergarten, if you can face climbing the 285 steps to the top (I decided to pass on it this time round).

The statue on top is Victoria, goddess of victory, sometimes referred to as Goldelse (golden Lizzy).

U-Bahn: 
Hansaplatz (U9)
S-Bahn: 
Bellevue (S5, S7, S75, S9)
Location: 
Siegessäule (Victory Column)
Großer Stern
10557 Berlin

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