When you’re caught up in the bustle of a modern city, it’s hard to imagine that it may have once been a collection of villages or a settlement; that before there were apartment complexes and buses, there were farmhouses and horse drawn carts. Cities swallow up places beyond their original reach and change so rapidly that you can quickly forget very recent eras and beyond significant historical events, the everyday life of the far past doesn’t even cross many people’s minds.
Cities are often all about the moment and the immediate future, and this is especially true for the constantly changing Berlin. But in Neukölln there’s a neighborhood called Rixdorf, a former village that charmingly remains stuck in the past. Rixdorf was established around 1360, and the center of the village became known as Bohemian Rixdorf after Bohemian refugees settled there in 1737.
When I stayed in Neukölln, on my way to and from the main street, I would walk through Richardplatz, the historical center of Rixdorf where there are old farmhouses, cobblestone streets, and a blacksmith’s workshop. One day I came across a great little place called the Comenius Garden. A beautiful public garden never fails to bring out my inner Anne of Green Gables, and it gets bonus points when I find it in a city.
The garden opened in 1995 and it’s dedicated to John Amos Comenius, a 17th century Bohemian educator and writer who helped bring the world public education. The garden was built along the philosophies of Comenius and each section of the park has a deeper meaning based on his ideas and theories. In the summertime with the fruits ripening and the flowers blooming, it made for a gorgeous place to spend a sunny afternoon: