“Won’t you walk me through the Tiergarten…” – even Rufus Wainwright sang about the beauty of Berlin’s second largest park. And he was right to do so, for there are many things to discover here. Like one of the capital’s most famous landmarks: the Victory Column. It’s not possible to imagine the skyline of Berlin without Ms “Goldelse” and her slim throne, so you should definitely pay her a visit when in town. Find out all about the column below:
At the centre…
You might find yourself circling around the Victory Column sooner than you may have expected, after all it stands in the middle of Großer Stern, Berlin’s grandest roundabout. There’s a dead straight Avenue runnin through West Berlin, from the Victory Column to Brandenburg Gate before it turns into famous boulevard Unter den Linden all the way to the TV Tower. The view from the 51 meter high observation platform is therefore magnificent: You can see Radio Tower and Teufelsberg to the west, Memorial Church and Zoo to the south and both Government District and the entire city centre towards the east. 285 steps lead up the circular staircase, so you better bring some stamina. But it’s worth it, the view from the top is fantastic. By the way: in order to start your ascent there’s absolutely no need to get chased across the busy road – at about 180,000 cars a day that would be a pretty suicidal thing to do. Better use the pedestrian tunnels underneath the roundabout that can be reached by four neo-classicist gatehouses. Visiting the observation platform will set you back just 3€ (reduced: 2.50€), it is open daily from 9:30 through 18:30 (17:30 in winter).
It’s hard to believe, but this very Victory Column used to be somewhere else. It stood where now is Platz der Republik. Right in front of historic Reichstag it was built in 1873 to celebrate the victorious Prussian troops after the Wars of German Unification (1864-71). The architect of this symbolic landmark of the new German nation state was Heinrich Strack. 60 captured cannon barrels are incorporated in the column, while the base has bronze reliefs depicting all three wars and the triumphant return to Berlin. It was only in 1938 that the Victory Column was moved some two kilometres to the West according to the plans of Adolf Hitler’s architect Albert Speer, who wanted it to be part of his idea for the proposed gigantomaniac “World Capital Germania”. While at it they added another seven and a half metres to the column, just because. The gilded sculpture at the top of the column is a depiction of Victoria, the goddess of victory wearing a feathered helmet. It was designed by Friedrich Drake, a famous Berlin-based sculptor of the 19th century. Both the monument and the sculpture survived the air raids of World War II surprisingly well, but France soon asked for its demolition, as it represented the nationalist ideology that had led to German fascism in the first place. It is only due to the veto of the other Allies that you can still visit the column today. Luckily most Berliners don’t care two figs about nationalism these days, so no one is offended when the sculpture is called “Goldelse” (“golden Elizabeth”) in the vernacular.
Nowadays the landmark is at the centre of attention do to much nicer events. For many years it was the central meeting point of legendary Loveparade. In 2008 a young presidential hopeful named Barack Obama gave a celebrated speech for more than 200.000 visitors here. And besides the gigantic NYE parties (Verlinken: NYE Parties 2016) and the occasional Football Fan Fest it’s also the place of the final rally for Berlin’s Christopher Street Day. Many reasons to make sure you make your way to the windy observation platform above the trees of Tiergarten soon, too. From Industriepalast Hostel it’s best to take the S-Bahn to Alexanderplatz and from there Bus 100.
Make sure to say hello to Ms Goldelse on our behalf,
is Berliner by choice and a passionate backpacker himself. As a receptionist he knows the real hostel life; as a blogger he's been writing for Industriepalast Hostel's Berlin blog since 2014.