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In the Nature Park Südgelände Schöneberg there are fallow areas with grass and wild forests

6. June 2020 - Anika Semmer

Nature Park Südgelände Schöneberg – Along the Tracks of Bygone Berlin Times


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Idyllic, overgrown, pure nature and wild railway romance – the nature park Südgelände Schöneberg is a surprising experience. This natural oasis is located in the heart of Berlin and is very different from other parks in the capital! This is what awaits you.

Are we in a European jungle here? Creepers, wildly proliferating nature that is taking back what man once took and – wildly romantic overgrown railway tracks. Wait a minute. Tracks? That’s one thing the Südgelände Schöneberg Nature Park has in common with the Park am Gleisdreieck. But unlike the popular and well-visited Park am Gleisdreieck in Kreuzberg / Schöneberg there is hardly a soul here. No sunbathing lawns. No skating rink, sports equipment or trampolines. Instead, technology from a forgotten time, art objects, wild romantic nature and an exciting foray through Berlin’s city history.

In the heart of Berlin, just a 3-minute ride by S-Bahn from the Südkreuz public transport hub, a real secret excursion tip awaits you in the Südgelände Schöneberg Nature Park! In spring and summer, the air smells sweetly of elderflowers, wild roses and wildflowers. Berlin is green. Berlin is wild – and always manages to surprise urban explorers out of nowhere.

For me, the Südgelände Schöneberg Nature Park is the greatest discovery of this year and I can only recommend a trip there as a break from the fast-paced, lively, noisy city. Nature, technology, Berlin history and art all come together there.

Tip: These 10 parks in Berlin are worthwhile!

The Nature Park Südgelände Schöneberg – What It Has to Offer

Path through the Nature Park Südgelände Schöneberg in spring

Rare wild rose species bloom at the Nature Park Südgelände Schöneberg

For 20 years, nature has been allowed to do as it pleases on the area between the tracks from S-Bahn Südkreuz to Prellerweg. Today, this is the Südgelände Schöneberg nature park, but it was once the site of a huge goods station. From 1880 to 1952, locomotives came and went here – because this was the site of the Tempelhof marshalling yard. The Südgelände Schöneberg nature park extends over 18 hectares, through which well-maintained paths and boardwalks lead.

Highlights to Explore and Linger Over

Wildly overgrown tracks in the Nature Park Südgelände Schöneberg

Witnesses to the past

  • View from above: there is an observation tower with a view of the city through the treetops
  • The rusty water tower with its steel ball is the landmark of the park, there is also a beer garden with snacks and cold drinks!
  • The historic steam locomotive by the water tower
  • The old turntable for shunting the trains, which looks like it’s from another star
  • Generous seating for picnicking with a view of a (flowering) dry terrace against the city backdrop on the horizon
  • Light-filled path through a birch grove
  • Wildly romantic overgrown tracks and ruins
  • Art objects to discover

A Stroll Along the Tracks of Bygone Berlin Times

There is also still a steam locomotive in the Nature Park Südgelände Schöneberg

Steam locomotive 503707 was built in 1940

At first glance: Wilderness. At second glance: Tracks, ruins, rusted relics. Exciting! And somehow typical of Berlin. No trains have been running here for a good 70 years. But there is still an impressive steam locomotive to marvel at in the park. It dates back to a time when, where today nature has overgrown and conquered almost everything, people were still busy, trains were coming and going around the clock, and the city of Berlin was growing rapidly.

Walking through the nature park Südgelände Schöneberg, the path leads past and over rusty tracks overgrown with moss and greenery. They lead to nowhere. Wildly romantic it looks and somehow totally beautiful. Switches, light poles, water cranes, rusty railway relics, a still functioning, abandoned, large turntable with which rail vehicles were turned horizontally can be discovered and much more.  For example, ruins sprayed with graffiti, their black windows mysteriously embedded in the greenery as if they were asleep.

Along the way, there are beautifully prepared boards with old photos and information on the history of Tempelhof marshalling yard. So there’s no need to prepare for this urban railway adventure, you can just wander off spontaneously and take along the tidbits of information that interest you.

Discover and Explore Nature

Boards with texts provide additional information worth knowing in the Nature Park

Boards with information on history and nature can be found throughout the park

A practical dark green wire mesh as a door. Next to it is a ticket machine – 1 euro to enter. We cycled here from Ku’damm, along busy streets, tall buildings, accompanied by noise. It only takes 10 – 15 minutes.

As soon as we step through the door, we are out of the city. Rays of sunlight fall on the narrow path that leads through slender birch trees. Beautiful! Elder flowers and hedge roses and grow wild where they please.

The path leads through open dry areas and primeval forest. There are ferns and flowering plants, large fungi and animals to discover – some 60 of which are endangered.

The park is partly a nature reserve and so that the wilderness can continue to spread, people are not allowed to leave the superbly designed paths and boardwalks in places. On the other hand, there are boards with information about the fauna and flora.

Art in the Nature Park Südgelände Schöneberg

A steel construction by a Berlin group of artists

Part of the art is also the steel construction that leads through the Südgelände Schöneberg Nature Park

Is that owl real?” a child next to me asks his parents excitedly. No, it isn’t. The owl turns its feathered back to us on the boardwalk. It is one of the art objects in the middle of the nature park next to abstract steel sculptures. Already while exploring the nature park, the visitor moves on works of art by the sculpture group ODIOUS. The Berlin artist group has designed footbridges, tubes and tree houses that lead through the nature park.
Her art is monumental and picks up on the industrial past of this place in form and through the material steel. Art as a link between technology and nature makes this place magical. As if time had taken on a life of its own with the rampant nature and closed the park door to the fast-moving, mechanised present.

The Nature Park Südgelände Schöneberg – Facts

  • Website: www.gruen-berlin.de/natur-park-sudgelande
  • Main entrance: S-Bahn station Priesterweg, directly at the southern exit S2, S25 / Bus 170, X76, M76, 246
  • Other entrances: Pedestrian bridge over the S-Bahn tracks from Hans-Baluschek-Park / Prellerweg (between the railway bridges, that was my entrance)
  • Opening hours of the gate: daily from 09.00 until 16.00 (November to February) / until 18.00 (March and October) / until 20.00 (April and September) / until 21.00 (May to August)
  • Contact: Phone: 030 – 700906760 // Email: [email protected]
  • Age: For everyone
  • Duration: approx. 2 hours
  • Price: € 1,00 per person / children under 14 years free

Fancy some more tips for activities in Berlin? From Escape Games and climbing gardens to canoe tours, Abenteuer Freundschaft has lots of ideas for Berlin and for location-independent activities with kids, family and partner.

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