Directly opposite the Prenzlauer Allee S-Bahn station is the Zeiss Grossplanetarium. I walked past here for almost a year when I went to one of my numerous children’s sports classes and never discovered the Ernst Thälmann Park behind it.
The park is located in the middle of the Prenzlauer Berg district in Berlin’s Pankow borough. It has an area of about 25 hectares and is bordered by Prenzlauer Allee, Greifswalder Straße, Danziger Straße and the S-Bahn ring road.
From 1873 to 1981, one of Berlin’s gasworks stood on the site, producing, among other things, illuminating gas for the street lamps. After the last gasometer was blown up in 1984, new planning began for the site. An inhabited park with residential and shopping facilities was to be built – a project of the GDR government to celebrate Berlin’s 750th anniversary.
In just three years, high-rise buildings with more than 1,000 residential units, the Zeiss Grossplanetarium, park areas, a memorial complex, an artificial pond and a tree was planted for every resident. Kindergartens, schools, shops and an indoor swimming pool were built. A true showpiece of the government.
Today, much around the site is still preserved.
We first walked past the Zeiss Grossplanetarium. Unfortunately, it has been under renovation for some time (it is due to reopen in summer 2016) and I have to admit that from the outside the building looks very unused. Hopefully it will soon be filled with life again and many great events will take place there.
The actual park begins directly behind the planetarium. Large meadows and playgrounds invite you to linger. My highlight, however, is the small lake that is hidden in a small section of forest. This pond is lovingly looked after by the Kiezteich Berlin Thälmannpark project. A great idea that not only keeps the water turtles and ducks at home, but also ensures that the plants, some of which are rare, remain protected.
On Greifswalder Straße, right at the entrance to the park, is the really huge Ernst Thälmann Monument. It is about 14 metres high, 15 metres wide and weighs 50 tonnes and was made of bronze and red granite. The Soviet Union donated it to the GDR in memory of Ernst Thälmann and it was placed on a 3800 square metre square. Today, the monument is a listed building.
I was very impressed by the size of the square and the monument and, although we have now seen a few monuments from the socialist era, I am still impressed by the dimensions every time. The motto “think big” must have been very decisive for many artists.
The Ernst Thälmann Park is a rather small city park. Here, joggers, families and dog owners from the neighbourhood meet for a short walk. Apart from the beautiful grounds around the pond, it is a rather inconspicuous park.
Entrance at Zeiss Grossplanetarium
Prenzlauer Allee 80,
Entrance at Ernst-Thälmann-Denkmal
Greifswalder Str. 52,