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Berlin’s ‘Körnerpark’: The Nicest Gravel Pit on Earth

Berlin has 208 parks. Some of them stick out because of their size, their location or the animals they harbor. ‘Körnerpark’ in Berlin’s ‘Neukölln’ district is different.

Living in Berlin or visiting the rather active and loud city requires a break now and then. Both residents and tourists will feel a lot better when they have a little quietude here and there. Berlin has 188 parks and public gardens many of which offer that kind of surrounding and atmosphere.

Video impressions: ‘Körnerpark’ in October of 2019.

Sure, there is the enormous Tiergarten park, the nice Treptower Park at the Spree riverbank, Volkspark Friedrichshain and other famous ones. But there is only one spot like Körnerpark. It is a little refuge in the partially hectic and dirty Neukölln borough.

‘Körnerpark’ was constructed several meters below the street level. Photo: Imanuel Marcus

Berlin’s Körnerpark has water features, including fountains, neatly trimmed paths between its lawns, little statues and a colorful flower garden. It seems like a château park, also because of the former orangery on its western end. All of this makes Körnerpark a special place.

A Park in a Hole

This applies even more because of its position. Since the park is located five to seven meters (16 to 23 feet) below the street level, hardly any street noise will be audible down there. So, why on Earth would anyone dig a huge hole for a park? Because it used to be a gravel pit, meaning the hole was already there when it was converted to a park.

Nobody seems to give a damn about the rules. Photo: Imanuel Marcus

The former owner, Franz Körner, gave the gravel pit to the town of Rixdorf, which used to be located here, as a present in 1910. He told them he wanted a park which carried his name. This is how it happened. In 1916, the conversion was completed. Now there was a park designed in a neo-baroque style.

‘Körnerpark’ is a quiet and beautiful little spot. Photo: Imanuel Marcus

Because the park is on a lower level than the streets and apartment buildings around it, it has retaining walls on three sides. Stepping on the very well-kept lawns is forbidden, but many Berliners mostly ignore the big signs. Some individuals even leave all of their trash right there on the grass.

Refuge of Quietude

At night, party people consume countless bottles of beer and hard liquor at Körnerpark. Well, they need something to flush those potato chips down their throats. This means waste piles up around the park’s trash cans, especially in spring and summer. But, in spite of this aspect, Körnerpark is the place to be.

The city just can not clean up after everyone immediately. Photo: Imanuel Marcus

Until 2008, the spot was right in the approach path for aircraft landing at Tempelhof Airport. But since the latter was closed to air traffic, Körnerpark became the refuge of quietude it originally was, except for visitors who get there the moment the gardening crews with leaf blowers arrive.

The ‘Gallerie im Körnerpark’ presents interesting art exhibitions. Photo: Imanuel Marcus

The park’s former orangery now accommodates the ‘Galerie im Körnerpark‘ which offers exhibitions. Recently. they presented a collection of interesting art prints. (Update October 17th, 2019:) The kind of modern art they are presenting now looks like a construction site, to some. But it seems to be very secret. At least the lady at the entrance forbade photography of any kind.

At ‘Zitronen-Café’, the brunch buffet does look sexy. Photo: Imanuel Marcus

Next door, at the ‘Zitronen-Café‘, they have delicious looking brunches for 10 Euro (11 Dollars or 8.50 Pounds), but also coffee, cake and the usual stuff. Sitting on that terrace overlooking the park is simply priceless. This spot almost feels like a miniature version of Park Sanssouci in Potsdam.