Down in Berlin's Urban Jungle

Down in Berlin's Urban Jungle

Südgelände Nature Park – © Archiv Grün Berlin GmbH
Old trackbeds in the Südgelände Nature Park – © Archiv Grün Berlin GmbH
"A Midsummer Night's Dream", Shakespeare Company Berlin – © Susanne Schleyer/autorenarchiv.de

Modern glass buildings climb into the deep blue sky, suits and briefcases pass by busily, Berliners and visitors board one of the 500 trains a day at minute intervals. One thing is for sure: if you are looking for big city life, you find it exactly here, at Potsdamer Platz.

But Psst…I know a secret: The real urban jungle is at a completely different place! Only three suburban train stations from Potsdamer Platz but in a different world: Schöneberger Südgelände Schöneberger Südgelände. The jungle express (the green lines S2 and S25) take you from Berlin Mitte non-stop to Bahnhof Priesterweg station: you can already see the nature park and an unusual smell of moist moss reaches your nose. Wild bird twittering and rustling of leaves. Was that a dragonfly passing by?

The entrance signpost is full of promises: “Open until dark” it reads in large characters. Small winding paths and foot bridges run along the tracks, between the trees there is even a Jim Button locomotive peeping. The traces of the former shunting station on this site cannot be overseen. Also noteworthy by the wayside: street art on collapsed walls, a glass terrarium with the wonderful name “Insect Hotel” and modern steel sculptures. If you are geared up for a normal walk, you will carry a big question mark along no later than now. What exactly is this here?

A microcosm of Berlin, I would be tempted to say. This enchanted mixture of nostalgic technology, unconventional arts and wild nature turns the site into a capital destination. The former shunting station combines old and new features in a fully unexcited manner, has everything to offer from decorative plants to weeds and changes from totally relaxed to full of hustle and bustle.

This can best be experienced still this summer: until 9 September the Shakespeare Company Berlin will transform the park into a theatre stage. If you come early enough, you can still discover the secrets of the park calmly before the evening open-air performance of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” begins in the Giardino Segreto.

-> Shakespeare in the Giardino Segreto or the Lokhalle in the Nature Park Schöneberger Südgelände (S-2 or S-25 /directly at the S train station Priesterweg). Every Wednesday, Thursday, Friday until 9 September 2011.