Berlin-Nikolassee, directly on the Krummes Fenn landscape conservation area lies the Düppel Museum Village. Here, visitors can experience life as it was in the region in the Middle Ages.
Even though I have lived in Berlin since I was born, I have never visited the open-air museum, which was founded in 1975. So it’s high time to immerse myself in medieval life and experience how people lived around 800 years ago.
In Düppel at that time
It will have been around 1170 that a palisaded resting place between Saarmund and Spandau was built in Düppel.
The station was located about halfway between the two towns, a distance that an ox team could easily cover in a day.
The palisades not only protected the inhabitants, but the resting people were also safe and could spend the night in Düppel in peace.
The resting place only really developed into a village gradually; in 1230, about eight farms stood in a horseshoe shape around the village square. But the village did not stand for long. The soil was too sandy and almost only livestock farming was possible. When the town of Zehlendorf was founded nearby and it seemed easier to provide food there, the inhabitants moved there.
The small village lay abandoned in Düppel and fell into disrepair.
Why is the Düppel Museum Village located exactly on this spot?
In the spring of 1939, a medieval sherd was found on the very spot where the museum village now stands, suggesting that a settlement must once have existed here.
In 1967, the first archaeological excavations confirmed these assumptions. House foundations, wells, palisades and everyday objects were found. By 1990, eight hectares of land had been investigated and many interesting discoveries had been made.
Already during the excavations, the idea came up to create an archaeological experimental field here. Visitors should have the opportunity to learn about life in the Middle Ages. The numerous finds were reconstructed and interested groups were formed to learn about the crafts, agricultural techniques and animal husbandry of the time, among other things.
Since 1995, the Düppel Museum Village has been part of the Berlin City Museum.
Tour of the Düppel Museum Village
Today you can visit the museum village in Düppel. On an area of eight hectares you will find reconstructed buildings and a landscape as it must have looked back then. Not only almost forgotten useful plants are shown, but also old breeds of domestic animals. Crafts (beekeeping, pottery, blacksmithing) are also practised as they were in the Middle Ages – Düppel has developed into a place of experimental archaeology in Berlin.
In the season from the beginning of March to the beginning of November, the museum village is open at weekends and on public holidays. Themed tours are offered that show life in the Middle Ages. Handicraft techniques are also presented or play stations with medieval children’s games are offered.
What can you see in the Düppel Museum Village?
I start my little tour at the beehives. Here, detailed information boards reveal interesting facts about bees and beekeeping. You can look into an “open” beehive and discover the hustle and bustle of the beehive. There are several bee colonies in Zehlendorf and Marienfeld. If you want, you can even buy the honey that comes from these bees.
I continue along a country lane. I pass a field that is used according to the principle of three-field farming. Behind it I discover the first medieval houses.
Various houses, some with traditional interiors, are arranged around a large square. You can look into almost every house and learn something about life in the Middle Ages.
I discover a bakehouse with a clay oven. I like to bake our bread myself and even in a modern oven the quality always varies. What must it have been like back then when there was no thermostat to regulate the temperature and the bread was in the oven? I would love to try that out one day.
In another house I discover various weaving frames. In the Düppel Museum Village, the production of textiles is explained in great detail. It starts with the preparation of the raw wool, the spinning and the processing of the yarn. Dyeing with natural agents from plants is also presented.
I wander from house to house, look into the small gardens and discover the museum garden. Wild plants that were used in medicine at that time also grow here.
We continue past huts where the old handicrafts are very vividly displayed. I am always very enthusiastic about working with wood and look closely at the woodturning.
Finally I reach the herding forest of the museum village. Here sheep of an old breed of Skudden, threatened with extinction, graze. Next to a few stables I discover pigs, a back-breeding of the Düppler Weideschweine, an old breed.
I enjoyed the visit very much. I have retrieved almost forgotten school knowledge and discovered a lot that I didn’t know before. I will definitely come back and join one of the many events on site.
The museum village is easy to reach by car, but also by public transport. Parking spaces are available in the entrance area.
Bus 115: Stop Ludwigsfelder Straße
Bus 118 or 622: Stop Clauertstraße
End of March – beginning of November
Saturday, Sunday: 10 – 18 h
There are special opening hours during the school holidays.
Adults: 5,- €
Discounts are offered, free admission up to 18 years of age
Disclosure: The visit and permission to use the photos in the Düppel Museum Village was made possible for me by the Stiftung Stadtmuseum Berlin. Many thanks! This article is based solely on my impressions and was written independently of the visit.