Berlin’s Secret Gardens
As I was walking down to yet another doctor appointment (another appointment, and another doctor; don’t ask) I discovered the incredibly charming Fasanenstrasse, which is right off the busy shopping avenue which is Kurfürstendamm. This unassuming street holds several splendid buildings, including the Literaturhaus at number 23, an institution opened in 1986, which saw the likes of Vladimir Nabokov hold readings and now hosts various talks and events. There is also a quaint but well-appointed basement bookstore and a very popular cafe, with tables laid out in the lively, blooming garden.
By going through the garden gate, you have direct access to next door’s building (number 24) which houses the Käthe Kollwitz museum.
There is an extensive exhibition of the artist’s works, and the garden is peaceful and sprinkled with contemporary art.
Number 25 is the rather exquisite Villa Grisebach, now home to a modern art gallery. Perhaps best known for the Schlesisches Tor Train Station, built around the turn of the century (1899-1901) architect Hans Grisebach’s style of German Neorenaissance cannot but impress through the richness of details. The exterior is characterized by intricate metalwork and excellent proportions, while the interior, basked in light courtesy of the immense windows, holds an elaborately carved wooden staircase and a large beautifully tiled fireplace. Entry is free.
There is a small, secluded garden in the back.
The gardens in Fasanenstrasse now have a special place in a quiet corner of my mind. The silence, the soft light, the flowers. But to quote someone wiser than me, “If you look the right way, you can see that the whole world is a garden.”*
*Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden.