Thursday, May 30, 2019

Biesdorf, Berlin's Hidden Gem of a Castle

Marzahn is not necessarily a place on the map of Berlin travels. Usually associated with high unemployment  and communist-style blocks of houses, it is one of those areas that you rather avoid during your short or long stay in Berlin. Among my expat friends, I can hardly find one single enlightened person that ever went to this part of the city, unless I dragged them with me to visit IGA 2017 Flower Exhibition.
However, there are a couple of things that are worth seeing in this part of the city too, among which the natural diversity with a multicultural touch of the Gardens of the World to which IGA Show is nowadays part thereof.
I am not someone to give up that easy a travel adventure, no matter where though, and although a visit to this part of Berlin might take over an hour from my Western side of the world, I know from my extensive travel experience in the most remote and off-the-map locations that there is always something worth seeing everywhere, even it might be only some samples of Soviet-style architecture. But there is more to Marzahn than the stereotypes we - not necessarily expats - label with. 
For instance, the pink beautiful castle of Biesdorf.


Before the intensive expansion of the city of Berlin that took place at an aggressive pace starting with the end of the 19th century, Biesdorf used to be a small village area. There are only a couple of traces of that anti-urban life left now, especially around the S-Bahn Biesdorf area, where you can still find small houses and partly cobblestone streets. Around the S-Bahn, there are also some small fast food points, just to get some supplies before a long ride through the 4-hectare park of the castle.
Directly from the train station, you only have to follow the Albert-Brodersen Allee to make your entry into a world which is completely out of time. The rows of trees bordering the long alley are your key to a different kind of urban kingdom.



Oh thou, searchers of solitude, you have a garden where you can find your peace with a book on your lap. This time, it was a disruption into the daily peace and happiness program, as a group of teenagers were looking in the garden for their peace while listening to loud Goth music rhymes. Maybe the next visitors will have more luck at this chapter.


Not bothered by the musical background, which was fading away more and more as I was moving forward on the alleys anyway, I took a big breath of fresh air and admired the natural surrounding, with the discrete traces of human creativity. The meditative pose of this massive stone statue is in complete sync with the mood you are turning on while walking and walking around the park.


Then suddenly, while overwhelmed way too much by the nature - after all, we are just visitors in the Kingdom of Nature and although we may proclaim our love of it, we are rarely able to fully understand what this beautified and mystified natural life is all about - the pink castle of Biesdorf, with its careful planned Italian architecture angles interrupted the revery. 
Biesdorf Castle is one of the 25 castles, manors and villas left to the city of Berlin after all the tragedies of the last century. Compared to other massive German castles, it rather look like a villa. It's history started at the end of the 19th centry, when it was first built for the Baron Hans Hermann von Rüxleben. Later, it was acquired by Werner von Siemens and stayed in the family until the beginning of the 20th century. In 1919, the villa was hosting various apartments. The owners changed little from the outdoor look, with most interventions being rather aimed at the gardens. 
The city of Berlin purchased the castle in 1927, and when it was re-opened to the public, in 1933, it was fast taken over by the National Socialist party.
Destroyed completely in 1945, it was rebuilt and opened during the communist Germany time in the late 1950s as a leisure center.


The ambiance around is typical for the early spring: many people - especially those accompanied of children of all ages - prefer to run around the gardens and enjoy the chill. Some are enjoying the view while sipping a coffee from the elegant large terrace. As usual, I prefer to have the best of both worlds and intensively exploring the gardens with a long stop indoors.


The octogonal tower is a landmark of this castle - besides the colour - and I am dreaming of being able to have a look over this part of the city from the top, but unfortunatelly such a chance is not being given to this demanding writer. The chance to admire every angle and corner of the building are lessons good enough in terms of architecture and for such an architecture lover as me, it is enough for now.


The indoors area brings to this journey to the unknown part of Berlin a human touch I was longing for. The free-of-charge exhibitions hosted here offer the chance to explore the works of local artists, some of them featuring visual life stories about the inhabitants of Marzahn. And it is much more to it than Cindy of Marzahn, as the photo exhibition where random people living in this area are sharing their interesting stories.


In other hall, a piano is taking a well-deserved break before a new concert will be offered to the visitors.


After changing hands so often in less than 100 years, after the reunification of Germany, Biesdorf Castle went through massive renovation works and in 2016 was finally reintroduced in the public circuit. Nowadays, it is managed by a foundation running various local projects and its exbitions are aimed to raise awareness about local problems and identity.


As usual, my successful trips are ending on a sweet-tasty note. After more than an hour journey to this part of Berlin, followed by a long historical and nature exploration of the castle itself, I reward myself with a delicious hot-chocolate and poppyseeds cake - Mohnkuchen - from the castle eatery. It might not be real castle food, but it has a local touch and a very friendly customer service so it is a happy ending of a trip that would love to repeat again in the near future. 
Against all odds, it seems that Marzahn has a lot to offer to the curious eyes and mind.

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