A View From A Hill

The Kreuzberg! It gives its name to a district and its lush greenery extends into a memorial peek. It’s where summer evenings are to be spent, gazing off as the sunset over the fair city of Berlin and fingers point and wonder at the golden statues that dot the vista. Find out more with The Berlin Tour Guide.

From humble beginnings, a vineyard mount grew in importance. The very early history of the hill is difficult to trace yet the first documented mention of the hill is a deed of gift from 1290 whereby a Knight of Tempelhof gifted Franciscans a brick bakery, traces of which were rediscovered in 1830 by road workers.  From 1290 onwards, however, the Kreuzberg traded hands many times. From Knights Templar to Margraves and to the Order of St John until eventually being sold to the city of Berlin-Cölln.

Haven and Earth

It became the safe haven of the Elector when he fled biblical floods in 1553 which never came. Yet, a lightning storm did arrive and as the Elector returned to Berlin four horses were struck down dead. As the sodden Elector returned through the city gates the people entered the streets and laughed at the embarrased figure. However, the hill that was to be the saviour could have been the destruction of Berlin. During the 30 years war, King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden placed cannons on the hill threatening the city with destruction. The population of Berlin and Europe was vastly depleted during this war, and the vines that had littered the hill died through neglect. Without roots to hold the nutrients of the soil, the hill turned into sand.

After the 30 years war, Prussia reorganised and grew in importance, yet the hill remained baron. The remaining vineyards were sold, the land was used to, unsuccessfully, try to cultivate silkworms and wine from the Rheinland was tastier than the local.

Rebirth

It was due to Napoleon that the Kreuzberg was reborn. The wars of Napoleon’s empire united nations in acts of national duty and brought enemies together as allies. In the War of the Sixth coalition, Prussia, Austria, Russia and Great Britain, would join together and defeat Napoleon at the Battle of Paris. Victory was in the hands of Prussia. A memorial was needed. The man tasked with designing such a memorial was the great architect of Berlin, Karl Friedrich Schinkel, and the Kreuzberg was chosen as its location.

From the sand grew a monument commemorating the great battle of the war. Figures stand guard with sword and shield and faces that resemble, Tsar, Duke, King and Queens. The crown of the hill? The Cross of Iron, designed by Schinkel, and worn by the soldiers of Prussia. The Eiseners Kreuz. Standing on the hill, the Berg.

Modernisation

Through the 19th century, a few changes were made. Increasing the height to improve the view from a hill, twisting the monument. However no plans were as large as the plans in 1888.

In 1888 the city parliament of Berlin voted on Hermann Mächtig’s plans. The park area around the memorial was to be expanded, new pathways were to be added, and a waterfall to be created. In 1894 the new park named after Princes of Great Britain, and Crown Princes Consort of Prussia and Germany, Victoria.

Today

Today the Kreuzberg’s history is more forgotten than not. The centrepiece of such much history is remembered more for its views than its past but those views are incredible. Whilst there are many paid entrance locations for view of Berlin, few are free however the Kreuzberg is. The 360 view of Berlin as one walks by the figures of the battle is spectacular. The views of Tempelhof, West Berlin, the historic city centre, and off into the east, are wonderful. So grab a cold beer, or bottle of wine, take advantage of Berlin’s lack of open container laws and bask in the warmth of the Berlin summer evenings. Most importantly enjoy a view from a hill.

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