Hard working monks, royal staging post, trains for bankers, German-American festivals

Having started life as little more than a row of farmhouses strung out along a village green on the eastern fringes of the Grunewald forest, Zehlendorf has grown to become one of Berlin’s most affluent boroughs and a byword for well to do, West Berlin conservatism.

After initally being developed as a base by Cistercian monks, the village – conveniently located halfway between the royal cities of Berlin and Potsdam – went on to gain a degree of importance as a staging post. By the late 19th century its attractive setting close to the lakes and forests along the River Havel, not to mention the easy access to Berlin provided by Prussia’s first passenger railway line, had made Zehlendorf the suburb of choice for many of the city’s wealthiest commuters. When greater Berlin was formed in 1920 it was declared one of its founding boroughs.

Today the site of the original settlement is a bustling suburban hub with a crowded high street. Although intersected by two of southwest Berlin’s busiest roads and in part blighted by a rash of dull, post war buildings, fragments of its rural past have outlived the changes imposed by the march of time. The octagonal parish church, built on the orders of Frederick the Great and the old village schoolhouse stand bravely on one corner of its main crossroads and a patch of the green has survived along Zehlendorf’s main street, the Teltower Damm. Visitors will still come across the occasional former farmhouse and the avenue of trees that once lined Prussia’s first paved Chaussee continues to shade the central reservation of the Potsdamer Strasse east of the village.

Zehlendorf’s rapid development at the turn of the 20th century is evidenced by its elegant Gründerzeit apartment buildings and leafy avenues lined with impressive villas, not to mention the imposing new civic buildings added in the late 1920’s. There’s also plenty more to see a little further afield, including some of Berlin’s most innovative social housing projects and the Museumsdorf Düppel, one of the city’s quirkier museums. Alternatively, energetic visitors can follow in the footsteps (or rather, hoof marks) of Kaiser Frederick Wilhelm 1st and take a hike along the old Königsweg path, which runs west out of the village through the Düppler Forest to Potsdam.

How to get there:

The easiest way to get to Zehlendorf from central Berlin is by S-Bahn. The S1 takes just under half an hour from Potsdamer Platz or Friedrichstrasse and the station is located at the bottom of Zehlendorf’s main shopping street and close to the heart of the village. Alternatively you can take buses ADD NUMBERS HERE


Brief History

Founded around 1220, the village of Zehlendorf was one of a number of settlements established by Germanic settlers amidst the forests and lakes west of the river Havel at the turn of the 13th century. Many of these settlements failed because the sandy soils of the region made farming difficult but Zehlendorf survived, in part because it had been founded on more fertile land a just to the west. Indeed, there’s evidence to suggest that the inhabitants of villages abandoned nearby found new homes in Zehlendorf, or that it might even have been founded for just such a purpose. Whatever the truth, the village is first mentioned in a document dated 1242, which records that margraves Johann 1st and Otto 3rd sold Cedelendorp (as Zehlendorf was known until 1652) to the Cistercian monastery of Lehnin for 300 silver marks. The monks introduced their tried and tested agricultural methods and developed the village as a base halfway between Lehnin and other Cistercian possessions to the north, also establishing a church, an inn and the other essentials of village life.

After holding sway for 300 years the monks made way in 1542 when church property was confiscated in the wake of the Reformation. Thereafter the village came under the authority of the Elector of Brandenburg and was run by a Lehnschulze, a local sheriff appointed by the representatives of the monarch. Zehlendorf was one of the few Berlin villages never to be part of a manorial estate. The village lost the greater part of its population during the Thirty Years War but recovered quickly. The building of the first Glienicke Bridge across the river Havel in 1660 improved connections to nearby Potsdam where Elector Friedrich Wilhelm’s new Stadtschloss had established the city as the Hohenzollern’s second residence alongside Berlin. This led to an increase in traffic between the two cities and as a consequence Zehlendorf, which lay almost exactly halfway between the elector’s two palaces, began to gain some significance as a staging post.

Under Friedrich Wilhelm 1st of Prussia Potsdam became a major garrison town and in 1730 the monarch ordered that a new path be cut between Zehlendorf and Potsdam in order to speed up journey times to and from Berlin. The sandy short cut through the Düppler forest, which became known as the Konigsweg (King’s Way), still exists to this day. In 1768 Frederick Wilhelm’s son, today better known as Frederick the Great, financed the building of Zehlendorf’s distinctive octagonal village church. According to legend, it was while waiting on the village green for his horses to be changed that he decided the original rough stone church, damaged by marauding Austrian and Russian troops during the Seven Years War, needed replacing.

The Königsweg was rendered obsolete by the completion of Prussia’s first paved road between Berlin and Potsdam in 1794. The new Chaussee cut journey times for the journalière mail service linking the two cities to three hours and the mail coach was soon pausing to change horses at Zehlendorf’s Erbbaukrug inn up to four times a day. At the same time the accessibility provided by the new road started to make Zehlendorf a more attractive residential location. Despite being badly damaged in a fire started by Napolean’s occupying forces in October 1806 Zehlendorf began to expand beyond its village green in the first half of the 19th century. A new school house was built alongside Frederick’s church in 1828 and by the middle of the century Zehlendorf had become one of the largest villages outside Berlin, with a host of inns and taverns serving a population of almost 600.

It was the coming of the age of the train, however that really set in motion the process that was to turn land in and around the village into prime, commuter belt real estate. The inauguration of the so-called Stammbahn, Prussia’s first railway line linking Berlin and Potsdam in 1838, made regular rail travel from Zehlendorf to Berlin possible for the first time. However it was the completion of the Wannseebahn over fifty years later that really made the village accessible as a suburb. The line, which initially connected Zehlendorf to new villa colonies along the Wannsee, was finally extended to Berlin’s Potsdamer Bahnhof in 1891. By 1903 direct trains known as Bankierszüge (bankers’ trains) were whisking well-heeled commuters straight into Berlin every half hour.

As land prices increased farmers, who had been granted ownership of the fields they cultivated in the Prussian land reforms of the first half of the 19th century, sold off their farms to investors. The land was divided into building plots and new, up-market villa colonies started to spring up around the village, especially to the west along the Potsdamer Chaussee and the Königsallee. Although the heart of Zehlendorf retained its rural character until the 1890s the simple farm houses lining the green gradually began to be replaced by more lavish residences and apartment blocks and the green was remodelled in 1896 to become a public garden. As the 20th century began the the village stood at the heart of an affluent neighbourhood of shaded avenues and small squares, while its main thoroughfare had taken on the characteristics of a suburban high street with shops offering a selection of goods that ranged from medicines to exotic foodstuffs. At the same time it became home to an ever expanding range of cafés, restaurants and dance halls.

Zehlendorf was finally made an independent rural municipality in 1872, bringing to an end the age of the Lehnschulze. The sheriff’s farm and estate were divided up and sold off and the newly elected council established itself in the old school house and set about running the affairs of the village’s 2500 inhabitants. Thanks in part to the wealth and influence of many of those who had moved into the area utilities such as gas, electricity and running water were installed in Zehlendorf before the turn of the century. Despite this, in 1897 there were still only 50 meters of surfaced road and a single petroleum street lamp. With schooling required for a rapidly growing number of children from increasingly affluent families a new higher school for girls was built in 1903 followed by Franz Thyriot’s spectacular new Gymnasium, which was opened with great pomp and ceremony on the Beucke Strasse in 1904. Both of these schools were exemplary for the time and attracted still more new inhabitants.

In 1894 the village of Schönow was merged with Zehlendorf and its population grew to over 6000. Frederick the Great’s church became too small for its congregation and in 1905 the new Pauluskirche, with its soaring, redbrick spire, was completed on land that had formerly belonged to the sheriff’s estate. Shortly before the First World War new housing was increasingly being developed for mid-level bureaucrats, with architects such as Paul Mebbes responsible for the developments such as the Zehlendorfer Gartenstadt just south of the Stammbahn line. By the time Zehlendorf became a fully fledged borough of Greater Berlin in 1920 it had a population of over 20,000.

After 1920 the construction of large new civic buildings further transformed the architectural fabric of the village. In 1929 the local council moved into a brand new Rathaus on the Kirchstrasse at the southern end of the green and a year later an opulent new Gemeindehaus (parish hall) was completed on a site adjacent to the former sheriff’s estate farm. The centre of Zehlendorf was also much changed by the widening of the old Chaussee in 1928, a development which sadly spelt the end for the historic Erbbaukrug inn which had once provided stables for the journalière.

The 1920’s and 30’s saw the rapid development of a host ground breaking new housing projects to the north and west of the village which provided homes for lower middle and working-class families. Often at odds with the mostly conservative taste of the local council, these projects were built in a variety of styles, ranging from Bruno Taut’s modernist Onkel Tom Siedlung to the traditional, neo-Germanic Waldsiedlung Krumme. Some are now UNESCO world heritage sites

Although Zehlendorf survived World War 2 reasonably intact some landmarks, such as the railway station, were destroyed by allied bombing. After the war Zehlendorf found itself in the heart of the American zone and home to a number of major garrisons. U.S. forces played an active role in the life of the local community and the annual German-American Festival became a much-loved summer event. In 1960 a German-American Community School was opened, which was later named after U.S. president John F. Kennedy.

The fifties and seventies saw major extensions to the Rathaus complex, creating a sprawling local government quarter between the Teltower Damm and Martin Buber Strasse. Although the once elegant suburb was becoming somewhat blighted by ever increasing amounts of road traffic and some less than inspiring postwar building projects Zehlendorf, with its leafy side streets and villas, continued to be one of Berlin’s most expensive and desirable neighbourhoods. Despite the changes brought by the fall of the Berlin Wall and the subsequent departure of the Americans it has remained so to this day.


Exploring Zehlendorf

Then and now:

Although little of the village of Zehlendorf survived its transformation at the turn of the 20th century a comparison of historical and modern maps shows that today’s network of main thoroughfares differs little from that which would have been familiar to the villagers of the 17th and 18th centuries.

Large village: The village stretched from today’s Mühlenstrasse in the south to approximately Scharfestrasse in the north.

Old maps of Zehlendorf show that the twelve original village farmsteads were laid out along a single street and green that ran from north to south and was known as the Hauptstrasse for much of the Zehlendorf’s history. The original settlement would have stretched roughly from today’s “Zehlendorfer Welle” shopping centre in the north down to the S-Bahn station in the south. The spur of the Telower Damm leading to the Machnowerstrasse that is today blocked by the railway line would have been the route that the monks of Lehnin took when travelling from Zehlendorf back to their home monastery.

The centre of the village was the point at which the Hauptstrasse crossed the Potsdamer Chaussee, which in time became the main road linking Berlin and Potsdam. Here the Cistercian monks of Lehnin built Zehlendorf’s first village church, which was later replaced by Frederick the Great’s octagonal structure and later joined by the village school. This corner is still the heart of Zehlendorf and is today known as the historischer Winkel or historical corner. Diagonally opposite the Winkel on the corner of Teltower Damm and Berliner Strasse, where the block housing the Woolworths store now stands was Zehlendorf’s original village inn, which became known as the Erbbaukrug

The village green that once stretched along the entire length of the Hauptstrasse has largely disappeared with the exception of the area of lawn along the Teltower Damm between the Potsdamer Strasse and Kirchstrasse. The Lehnschulzengut complex which covered most of the land between the green and today’s Martin Buber Strasse stretched along the western side of the green where today the Scharfe Villa and the Gemeindehaus which along with the Rathaus on the corner of Kirchstrasse transformed the architectural fabric on the village at the end of the 1920’s

The two original village ponds that can be seen on the green on old maps of the village were filled in around the turn of the 20th century. The village’s first blacksmith was founded adjacent to the smaller northern pond at Calyallee ?? in ???. The larger southern pond which became the site of the second blacksmiths was at the bottom of what remains of the village green, opposite the Rathaus. The original village mill stood just to the south of today’s railway line on a small incline at the corner of the Mühlenstrasse and Herberger Weg.

Zehlendorf began to expand along the Potsdamer Chaussee and other routes leading out of it In the second half of the 19th century and there are still a few surviving village houses from the late 19th century along the Spandauer Strasse (today Onkel Tom Strasse), Königstrasse and Potsdamer Chaussee.

As the village began its development into a suburb at the end of the 19th century the village houses and farms along the Haupstrasse began to be replaced by more lavish Gründerzeit buildings and it became a commercial street with shops. Most of the listed apartment and shop buildings along the Teltowerdamm built between 1890 and 1915. The new church was built on Lehnschulzengut land on the newly laid out Kirchstrasse. At the same time agricultural land, especially to the west and to the north of the village was sold off and developed for villa colonies, especially beyond Marin Buber Strasse Königsweg and north fo Scharfe Strasse.

As a result there is today more of a village feel and individual village house, mostly from around 1870 – 1890 along the Berlinerstr west of the Teltowerdamm, the start of Onkel Tom Strasse and the odd trace at the bottom of the Teltowerdamm where it splits before the station.

Later in the 20’s and 30’s the architectural fabric of the village was further transformed by the Gemeindehaus and the Rathaus .. red-dev of Potsdamer Chausse?? while to the north and east large new social housing complexes went up to the spread. The postwar years saw construction of fairly average buildings especially along the southern side of the Potsdamer Chaussee and the easter side of the clayallee which changed look and feel of the village – not positively. Also Rathaus complex!

The Heart of the Village

The “historischer Winkel” (Historic Corner) and the main crossroads.

The point at which the Kaiser’s Chaussee once crossed the Hauptstrasse still marks the heart of the village. It’s here, on the corner of Clayallee and Potsdamer Strasse, that you’ll find the “historischer Winkel” (historic corner), where Zehlendorf’s two oldest surviving landmarks, the old school house and the parish church, overlook a small, cobbled quadrangle shaded by the leaves of the sturdy old Friedenseiche. The Winkel is undoubtedly the best place to start exploring Zehlendorf – indeed the local council have even provided an information panel with a brief village history and some old black and white photos

Dorfkirche and Old School House
Village church and schoolhouse on the Historischer Winkel

On the western side of the Winkel the grey and pastel pink village church, built on the orders of Frederick the Great in 1768, is set rather idyllically amidst the trees and tombstones of its walled churchyard. The distinctive octagonal structure replaced the original rough stone church built by the monks of Lehnin which had stood on the site since the 13th century and had been severely damaged by rampaging Austrian troops during the Seven Years War. Frederick donated 6000 Thalers to finance its construction but the contractor apparently made off with half the sum. As a result the final product turned out to be a little more modest than originally planned. Despite this, the new church had space for almost 300 worshippers at a time when Zehlendorf’s total population numbered no more than 250.

Dorfkirche Zehlendorf 2
Old parish church and village cemetery

The building initially had a tower but this was removed twenty years after construction was completed when it became clear that the roof was in danger of collapsing under the weight of the 500 year old bronze bell, which had been kept from the previous church. In its place a weather vane inscribed with the year of the church’s construction was fixed to the top of the pointed roof and the bell was hung on a wooden frame in the churchyard. It stayed there until 1912 when it was donated to the newly completed Johanneskirche in nearby Schlachtensee. The bell went on to survive both world wars and is today the oldest surviving church bell in Berlin.

Frederick’s church had become too small for Zehlendorf by the end of the 19th century and was replaced by the neo-gothic Pauluskirche in 1905. After being adapted inside it was used as the parish hall after 1912 and as a storeroom during World War Two. The church gradually fell into disrepair and lost much of its decorative external plasterwork during the war. Fortunately it was restored to its former glory in 1953. In more recent times it has been used for prayer and meditation as well as for concerts, readings, baptisms and weddings. Its octagonal shape, unique among Berlin village churches, is significant in Christianity, referring to the eighth day as one symbolizing resurrection and new life. Inside the church you’ll find surviving altar panels dating from the 15th century and it’s open to visitors on Thursdays between 16:00 and 18:00

Surrounded by a rough stone wall dating from 1826 the village churchyard almost certainly occupies the site of the settlement’s original 11th century burial ground. The cemetery was closed in 1894 and replaced by a new one on Onkel Tom Strasse. The leafy graveyard with its mixture of iron and stone crosses offers something of a haven from the constant comings and goings on the Potsdamer Strasse. Resting in peace within its walls are members of some of Zehlendorf’s most important and influential families with names such as Haupt, Zinnow, Pasewaldt and Sharfe featuring prominently. The grave of Sidonie Scharfe, who together with her sister was the last owner of the sheriff’s Lehnschulzengut estate, stands in the middle of the churchyard partly hidden behind a camouflage of ivy. Behind it a large stone slab marks the grave of Peter Pasewaldt, once the owner of the Erbbaukrug inn. Buried under the small area of grass at the centre of the cemetery which is known as the Franzosenfriedhof (French cemetery) are the remains of eight French and three Russian soldiers who perished during fighting in and around Zehlendorf during the retreat of Napolean’s army from Moscow in 1813. Close to the wall along the Potsdamer Strasse the three gnarled old mulberry trees propped up with wooden supports are 200 year old survivors of Frederick the Great’s campaign to make Prussia self sufficient in the production of silk (for more, see the guide to Steglitz). Silk production was introduced to Zehlendorf by the village schoolmaster and sexton Ernst Ferdinand Schäde and by 1793 there were 28 mulberry trees growing in the churchyard. The three surviving trees with trunks of between 3 and 4 meters in diameter have been listed at national monuments since 1940. Schäde’s grave lies alongside the left wall by the spotlight CHECK!

The northern side of the Winkel is occupied by the Alte Schule, (old schoolhouse) which today houses Zehlendorf’s village museum. The pale yellow building – which looks more like a classic Prussian farmhouse than a school – dates from 1828 and was probably built on the site of a village house which had been turned into a classroom when Zehlendorf’s first teacher took up his post in 1774. At a time when the population of the village was starting to grow its first purpose-built school provided a single classroom with space for up to 45 pupils. In 1865 the school was moved a new location on the Potsdamer Chaussee and the building changed function to become the headquarters of village council after it was made an independent rural municipality in 1876. The two extensions still visible from Clayallee at the rear of the building were added as the council’s workload began to grow significantly at the turn of the 20th century.  When Zehlendorf was made a borough of Greater Berlin in 1920 old school housed the Bürgermeister’s office until he was able to move into the newly built Rathaus in 1929. Thereafter it saw a variety of uses and was for a time the council’s office for underground engineering. Zehlendorf’s Heimatverein (local history society) and the village museum moved into the schoolhouse in 1973 and the building underwent a complete renovation in 1986. The museum http://www.heimatmuseum-zehlendorf.de/  The museum is open on all weekdays except for Wednesday from 10:00 to 18:00 and is also closed at weekends.

Heimatmuseum & Friedenseiche 2
Old schoolhouse and the Friedenseiche

Completing the attractions of the historischer Winkel is the Friedenseiche (peace oak), which towers over the quadrangle. It was planted by school pupils from Zehlendorf on September 2nd 1871 to celebrate the end of hostilities in the Franco- Prussian war, one year after Prussia defeated the French at the battle of Sedan. A plaque in the shape of an iron cross was attached to the trunk in 1906 recording the date on which the tree was planted and the old oak was listed as a natural monument 1940. It seems to have hung on quite well over the years, its trunk now measuring 4 meters in diameter.

The wooden bench that rings the base of the Friedenseiche makes for the ideal spot from which to undertake a brief examination of the central crossroads before heading off to explore the rest of the village. With a hefty slice of imagination you might about just be able to summon up a picture of how things would have looked 150 years ago, when horse drawn carriages rattled over the cobbles of the Chaussee instead of an incessant stream of cars and buses. On the opposite side of the Clayalle the grey complex on the corner of Berliner Strasse which today houses a bank stands on the site of Zehlendorf’s former Chausseewärterhaus (toll house). Demolished in 1896 (WHY? – when the Clayalle was redeveloped??) this simple dwelling was one of four toll collection points set up along the Chaussee between Berlin and Potsdam. Over on the south side of the crossroads the rather grim looking block on the corner of Berliner Strasse and the Teltower Damm which is home to a branch of Woolworths occupies one of Zehlendorf’s most historic locations. It was here that the Erbbaukrug, Zehlendorf’s oldest inn, once stood. The fine, 18th century mansion which accommodated the inn was demolished in 1929 when the Potsdamer Chaussee – at that time a section of Reichstrasse 1, Germany’s premier trunk road – was widened. When the inn was demolished centuries old foundations and a vaulted cellar were exposed suggesting that it had been founded on the site of a building used by the monks of Lehnin when breaking their journeys to other monasteries to the north. During the 17th century the king and his court officials and couriers regularly passed through Zehlendorf when travelling between Prussias two main palaces in Berlin and Potsdam, a journey of four to five hours. Later the Erbbaukrug played an important role as a logistics base, initially for Frederick’s the Great’s mounted military couriers and then during the late 18th and early 19th centuries as a staging post for the Journalière horse-drawn mail service serving Berlin and Potsdam. The inn and its complex of farm buildings were acquired by Peter Pasewaldt in 1764 and the mansion became known locally as the Pasewaldt Haus thereafter. Sadly there is no trace of the fine old house left today, nor of the stable blocks that must have once played such an important role in communication between Berlin and Potsdam.

South along the Teltower Damm and the Village Green

The largest part of the old village lies south of the Historischer Winkel along the Teltower Damm. As you cross the Potsdamer Strasse look out for the small milestone perched on the central reservation showing distances to Teltow, Magdeburg, Potsdam and Dresden MORE INFO? On the other side of the street almost hidden under the trees just to the left of Zehlendorf’s main taxi rank stands a quirky little piece of Wirtschaftswunder architecture known today as the KulturKiosk. Originally opened as a snack bar in 1955 it was listed in 1990 after a campaign by locals demanding that it be saved as an example of outstanding modernist architecture. Since 1996 the organization ‚Kultur in Zehlendorf’, has been running the kiosk as an information centre promoting culture in and around the borough. The kiosk sells books and pamphlets on local subjects and old postcards of the village, although the opening hours are somewhat sporadic. (MONDAY TO FRIDAY 15-19:00 according to SUEDWEST BERLIN SITE.

KulturKiosk 2
The Kulturkiosk

The only surviving stretch of Zehlendorf’s village green starts just behind the KulturKiosk. Lined with tall ?? trees it stretches a few hundred meters down to the Kirchstrasse rather like a golf fairway.  The green is bordered on one side by the hustle and bustle of the Teltower Damm and on the other by a narrow cobbled lane, which was laid out by the owner of the Lehnschulzengut estate in 1814 to improve access to a post office he had opened in a wing of the farm complex. While the stretch of the Teltower Damm that runs alongside the green was heavily developed at the turn of the 20th century and still features some late Gründerzeit buildings the land along the lane was mostly occupied by the buildings of the Lehnschulzengut farm until it was wound up in 1881. The gradual redevelopment of the farm site eventually resulted in three notable buildings lining the green’s western side.

The first of these you come to when heading across the grass from the KulturKiosk is the Gemeindehaus (Parish Hall). Completed in 1930 this sizeable complex with its ochre walls and vast, red tiled mansard roof had become necessary as the parish grew to over 32,000 souls. The hall was built overlooking the green as there was insufficient land available next to the new parish church in Kirchstrasse and the last two surviving houses on the Lehnschulzengut site had to be demolished in 1928 in order to make way for it.  Conservatively styled the Gemeindehaus is laid out in the form of a palace with two wings and a front courtyard. A statue of Martin Luther that used to stand in the courtyard was removed and melted down during the Second World War. Five sculpted pillars and a series of tall arched windows dominate the main facade behind which is a 200 square meter main hall which is almost 12 meters high and has a gallery, a vaulted ceiling and room for 340 seats. Due to its excellent acoustics the German record label Electrola used the hall as a recording studio during the sixties and today it sometimes hosts concerts given by the Zehlendorfer Kammermusiken, as well as amateur theatre productions. At the time of its completion the Gemeindehaus not only housed the parish offices but also boasted a public bathhouse, a cellar gymnasium and even a small cinema. Today it hosts a “Trödel Café” on Fridays at which bargain hunters can enjoy a cup of coffee and homemade cakes while browsing through old books, clothes and crockery. CHECK

Continuing down the green you pass a plain stone memorial to local victims of the Nazi dictatorship on your left before coming to the Scharfe Villa, which stands just beyond the Gemeindehaus  a little set back from the lane. Rather more delicately scaled than its neighbour the villa was built in 1892 for Sidonie Scharfe, who together with her sister was the last heiress to the Lehnschulzengut estate.

From Brief history: For his trouble the Lehnschulze was granted a large estate (Lehnschulzengut) in the heart of the village and freed of all financial and service obligations.

The Lehnschulzengut, which had become the largest farm in Zehlendorf during the 19th century, had ceased operations with the death of its owner Julius Pasewaldt in 1881. The villa stands on the site of demolished farm buildings which once included the estate’s former distillery. Although the front garden along with its wrought iron fencing and entrance gates have gone the house still looks rather grand with its front loggia and a decorative gable in the form of a double “S” for Sidonie Scharfe. Today it serves as Zehlendorf’s registry office – somewhat ironically seeing as Sidonie Scharfe remained a spinster throughout her life. Restored in 1992 the villa contains two marriage chambers and at weekends there’s a steady stream of newlyweds being photographed on the front of the steps.

On inheriting the Lehnschulzengut Sidonie Scharfe and her sister Marie Pasewaldt divided up and sold off most of the land. Sidonie went on to donate a good slice of her considerable fortune for the benefit of the borough and became something of a local benefactor. Not only did she make a sizeable plot of land from the estate farm available for the building of the new parish church, but she also set up and supported a number of local foundations for the support of the old, needy and infirm. She is best known locally for the Sidonie Scharfe Stiftung, a foundation set up in order to provide affordable accommodation to ageing widows and spinsters that still exists to this day. In her will Sidonie granted the foundation a piece of estate land and provided the funding required for the building of a complex of self contained appartments. The Seniorenwohnhein Sidonie Scharfe Stiftung has survived to this day along what is now known as the Scharfe Strasse. MOVE THIS LAST BIT?

Beyond the Scharfe Villa the last of the three main buildings lining the western side of the green is a large house on the corner of Kirchstrasse known as the Villa Pasewaldt. This substantial residence, with a steeply pitched roof, sturdy corner tower and attractive Jugendstil decoration, was built in 1903 for Dr. Georg Pasewaldt, son of Julius, on the site of the estate farm’s former dairy. The house overlooks the southern end of the green which was once the site of the larger of Zehlendorf’s two village ponds, both of which date back to the founding of the village in the 12th century.  The pond was landscaped towards the end of the 19th century, providing a pleasant backdrop for summer promenade concerts, but was eventually was filled in when the Teltower Damm was widened in 1951. Today only a couple of weeping willows remain to suggest that there might once have been a stretch of water on this part of the green.

Tucked away on the edge of the green close to the Villa Pasewaldt is a small, stone statue known as the Sitzende Frau (seated woman). She’s all arms and legs but looks fairly content with life, her head resting on her knees. ARTIST? A bust of Kaiser Wilhelm which was unveiled in 1890 and used to stand close by has long since disappeared.

From the bottom of the green a short detour up the Kirchstrasse will bring you to the Pauluskirche, the neogothic successor to Frederick the Great’s parish church. Although the building of a new church had been under discussion from the mid 19th century it only became possible when Sidonie Scharfe donated the land on which to build it. A design by the Hannover based architect Hubert Stier was chosen and building was completed in time for a lavish consecration ceremony at the harvest festival of October 1905. Construction costs came to 224,000 marks, of which over half was raised in the parish. Wealthy local farming families donated the organ and the three church bells, Sidonie Scharfe the baptismal font and the empress Auguste weighed in with a bible. The church, which could accomodate around 700 parishioners, was already too small at the time of its completion and as a result the neighbouring district of Schlachtensee decided built its own parish church shortly afterwards.

Both the church the vicarage next door were given the full redbrick Gothic treatment. Everything seems to point skywards, not least the 62 metre high steeple set to the left of the nave, which dominates the corner of Kirchstrasse like a rocket on a launch pad. The interior is a more sober mixture of brickwork and white plaster. Stier’s highly decorative altar, the pulpit and a massive 82 lamp chandelier which once hung above the knave were removed during extensive renovation work done in the 1950s by the architect and acoustics expert Werner Gabler. Although Gabler’s work also spelt the end for the interior paintings and the decorative carvings on the pews it did leave Zehlendorf with a church which is known for its outstanding sound quality. Today it’s still a regular venue for concerts. Apart from Sunday service at 10:00, the church is also open on Wednesdays from 16:00 to 18:00 and on Saturdays from 11:00 to 13:00.

Back at the corner of Kirchstrasse and Teltower Damm Zehlendorf’s soberly styled Rathaus (Town Hall) juts out into what used to be the southern end of the village green. With little or no sign of external decoration the building appears quite bland in comparison to some of the Gründerzeit flourishes elsewhere along the street. It’s also a far cry from the elaborate, redbrick Gothic town halls generally favoured at the end of the 19th century. The architect Jobst Siedler was apparently influenced by the classic medieval Rathaus, as evidenced by the tall narrow windows of the main Bürgersaal (citizen’s hall) and the sturdy arcaded passageway along Kirchstrasse. Work on the Rathaus began in 1927 and was completed in the spring of 1929, making it the first town hall to be built after the creation of Greater Berlin’s. The Rathaus complex has subsequently spread to cover the area between Teltower Damm and Buberstrasse creating something of a local government quarter.

The cobbled area and parking bays in front of the Rathaus used to make up the last stretch of green before it tapered off at the southern end of the village. This former section of green was once the site of the blacksmith’s workshop set up by Friedrich Wilhelm Kersten next to the village pond in 1812. The chestnut tree ringed by a circular wooden bench which still stands in front of the Rathaus was apparently planted by Kersten in order to provide shade for horses waiting for their shoes to be fitted. The blacksmith later bought a plot of land on the Hauptstrasse and his son August moved the business there in 1892 and also built a three storey apartment block on the site. Completed in 1904, it survives to this day – at 22 Teltower Dam – and is a nice, late Gründerzeit specimen with recessed balconies and an external tower. The more lavishly decorated block with the Dutch gable next door at number 20 was built in 1909 for the Schulze family with the proceeds gained from the sale of their two village farmhouses. Both houses had stood on land which the council would eventually use to build the new Rathaus. A few steps further along the Teltower Damm at number 26, the anonymous building that today houses the branch of a bank, marks the site on which the village miller’s house once stood.

The opposite side of the Teltower Damm facing the Rathaus also boasts a couple of fine Gründerzeit buildings. The pleasant Jugendstil apartment block with a nice line in swirly arched windows at Teltower Damm 25 was built by the ironmonger Franz Haupt in 1903 on the site of a former farm. Today it houses a perfumery and an organic food shop. A little further along at Teltower Damm 31 the handsome redbrick building with a decorative outer tower that has lost its cupola is home to the Adler Apotheke. Opened in 1894 it was Zehlendorf’s first pharmacy and has survived as a family business to this day. According the company website, in April 1945 the shop survived a visit by plundering Red Army soldiers who proceeded to drink their way through its collection of pharmaceutical spirits, forcing the unfortunate owner to pre-taste each bottle in advance.

The Teltower Damm divides at the southern end of the village as you approach the S-Bahn station. While most traffic follows the main road through the station underpass – which replaced the level crossing in 1891 after the introduction of regular commuter services – there’s a short, cobbled spur branching off to the right which follows the old route out of the village in the direction of the monastery of Lehnin. Perched in between these two streets, the yellow house with brown shutters that overlooks the underpass is a surviving smallholder’s cottage dating from the first half of the 19th century which later became the Fürstenhof Gaststätte, one of Zehlendorf’s most popular watering holes. Well known for its shaded beer garden which backed onto the railway line the Gaststätte was extended in 1894 to include a functions room with a moveable theatre stage as well as the veranda section overlooking the underpass. Contrary to appearances, the building you see today has been almost entirely rebuilt and now houses a branch of a steakhouse chain rather than a tavern. At least you can still dine al fresco in the garden.

Along the cobbled spur a few steps beyond the former Fürstenhof there’s a second surviving smallholder’s cottage dating from the first half of the 19th century. This single storey house on the corner of Martin Buber Strasse at number 34 which once stood right at the southern end of the village has been nicely renovated and now houses a craft shop. The Gründerzeit apartment block at number 32 that was planted alongside it in 1894 is a perfect illustration of how much the architectural fabric of the village changed at the end of the 19th century. Indeed, together with August Kersten’s house and the Adler Apotheke it was one of the first three apartment blocks built in the heart of the village.

Just beyond the smallholder’s cottage you’ll reach a small triangular square which is overlooked by the former Kaiserliches Postamt (Imperial Post Office). Opened in March 1903, this rather grand building replaced the much smaller post office on the corner of Teltower Damm and Machnower Strasse on the other side of the railway line.  The middle of the square would presumably once have been one of Zehlendorf’s well-kept green spaces but is now used as a car park.

Back on the main part of the Teltower Damm the approach to the railway underpass is a jumble of fruit and vegetable stalls and fast food outlets. Buses disgorge their passengers, pedestrians throng the pavements and the traffic rumbles by. This hustle and bustle is a far cry from the elegant little square that once greeted newly arrived train travelers between the station and Gartenstrasse. Although the square has since been obliterated by the decidedly unremarkarble Forum Zehlendorf development, the fine, white Gründerzeit appartment block on the corner of Gartenstrasse which used to overlook it’s well tended flower beds has survived. The building was once home to the Burghotel, which opened in 1903 and was Zehlendorf’s such establishment. Although the hotel closed in 1914 its popular terrace restaurant continued life as the Burg Cafè. In 1946 the hotel’s old dance hall was converted into the Bahnhof Lichtspiele cinema, which survives today under the cleverly shortened name of Bali.

There is little about Zehlendorf’s S-Bahn station to remind you of the pioneering days of the old Stammbahn. The redbrick ticket office built in 1891 to replace the original half timbered station which dated from 1866 was destroyed by allied bombing in 1943. The neglected south platform, which is no longer in use, would have once served the Stammbahn tracks, which you can see stretching off in a straight line southwest towards the trees, whereas today’s S-Bahn trains follow the route of the old Wannseebahn which curves off to the right. From the station you can look down on the comings and goings on the Teltower Damm and try to imagine what the view across the flower beds in front of the Burghotel might once have been like.

From Brief History: The first train from Potsdam steamed into Zehlendorf at 12:22 on September 22nd 1838 and by October 29th trains were travelling all the way through to Berlin.

From Brief History While the first phase of the line which opened in 1874 connected Zehlendorf to developer Wilhelm Conrad’s new villa colony of Alsen on the Wannsee the second came into service in 1891, providing Berlin’s first regular commuter service on tracks that ran alongside those of the Stammbahn.

West of the historischer Winkel along the Potsdamer Strasse, Onkel Tom Strasse and the old Königsweg

Heading west along the the former Chaussee from the historischer Winkel the first thing of note that you’ll pass is a plaque mounted on the churchyard wall commemorating the spot on which in May 1732 King Friedrich Wilhelm 1st of Prussia greeted a group of so-called Salzburg Protestant refugees. The refugees belonged to a group of over 20,000 Protestants from the Roman Catholic Archbishopric of Salzburg in Austria who had been expelled in 1731 after suffering a series persecutions. Their expulsion triggered protests from Protestant princes within the Holy Roman Empire and the King in Prussia offered to resettle them in his territory, an offer that most of them accepted.

Beyond the churchyard wall you’ll soon arrive at Zehlendorf’s second historic crossroads. It was here that the road to Spandau – today the Onkel Tom Strasse – branched off to the northwest and where Friedrich Wilhelm’s Königsweg began. The building on the tightly angled corner of Potsdamer Strasse and Onkel Tom Strasse is the former Gasthaus zur Goldenen Sonne (Golden Sun tavern), one of Zehlendorf’s many historic watering holes. First opened in 1823 CHECK it was moved to this spot from its original location on the opposite side of the street in 1880. Although its front gable still features a symbol of the sun the once proud Gasthaus is now home to a steakhouse.

A glance up the left hand side of Onkel Tom Strasse reveals a jumble of former farmhouses dating from the 1870s and 80s. Although not particularly remarkable to look at some are listed buildings and the street has more of a village-like feel than the Teltower Damm or Clayallee. A short detour along the Onkel Tom Strasse past well kept Gründerzeit remnants on the right hand side takes you past a redeveloped farm complex with barns and stables set around a yard behind two storey farmhouse at number 12. Next door at number 14 you’ll find Zehlendorf’s handsome old Spritzenhaus (Firestation). Built in 1908 it replaced the original fire station on Hauptstrasse which was demolished when the council offices were extended behind the old schoolhouse. The three storey building of pale stone and plaster has a steeply pitched roof and some nice decorative features, including a wood framed oriel window. The arched wooden doors behind which the fire engines would have been parked have been replaced by windows and there’s a tower at the back of the building from which a siren attached to a system of 23 detectors dotted around the village would ring out if a fire broke out. Although horse drawn fire engines were still in use when the building was completed it was constructed to allow for motorized vehicles which began to replace horses in 1914. The Spritzenhaus is now home to Zehlendorf’s Volkshochschule (adult education centre).

is now cut off from the former Chaussee by a triangular cobbled area known as the Sderot Platz.

Back on the Potsdamer Strasse you’ll have to cross six lanes of traffic to reach the Sderotplatz, the cobbled pedestrianized area on the southern side of the crossroads named after Zehlendorf’s Israeli twin town. The square marks the point at which the former Königsweg – now known as the Königsstrasse for its first few kilometers – branched off to the south west. Until the widening of the Potsdamer Chaussee in 1929 this was also the site of Zehlendorf’s popular weekly farmers market.

The grey apartment block on the western side of the square is all that’s left of the Restaurant Kaiserhof once one of Zehlendorf’s most impressive venues. It opened in 1892 and was known for its plush restaurant and a ballroom illuminated by a 72 lamp chandelier which could seat up to 400 people. Unfortunately, the front corner section of the building that housed the restaurant and ballroom was demolished in 1976 leaving a sad rather stump in place of the fine, twin towered facade that once dominated the crossroads. On Sderotplatz itself the slightly bizarre Zeli-Brunnen (Zeli Fountain), also known as the Märchenbrunnen (Fairytale fountain), which now stands at its centre was designed by the artist Brigitte Stamm in 1982 and features a playful tangle of women, children and strange looking animals spouting jets of water. Next to the fountain a traditional street lantern marks the spot on which Zehlendorf’s first petroleum street lamp which once stood.

The building that occupies the space between Königstrasse and Martin Buber Strasse on the southern side of Sderotplatz is all that remains of what was once the Konditorei und Café Paersch. The Konditorei used to supply cakes to the royal court of Prinz Friedrich Leopold of Prussia, lord of Düppel manor a couple of kilometres down the Königsweg. Unfortunately the once fine building lost its second floor during the war CHECK. It is now home to a Greek restaurant.

From the square, a short detour up the Königstrasse to brings you to an immaculately restored Landarbeiterhaus, a hostel for agricultural workers, with distinctive green shutters dating from 1870. It’s from here that you can follow the Königstrasse along the exact route of Friedrich Wilhelm’s old Königsweg, past Düppel Manor and into the Düppler Forst towards Potsdam.

Beyond Onkel Tom Strasse the northern side of the Potsdamer Strasse is lined with modest houses and villas dating from the second half of the 19th century. The single storey house with 7 street facing windows at number 3 dates from before 1870 and once housed an inn known as the Alter Krug, while further along the simple, white house at Potsdamer Strasse 6 was home to the village school for a short time after it moved from its home on the Historischer Winkel and also accommodated Zehlendorf’s first village library. Just visible behind it is the last surviving wing of the Gemeindeschule Nord which opened in 1876 but was almost entirely demolished when a new school was built on the site in 1979.

Beyond the school the Potsdamer Strasse curves gradually to the left clearly revealing how the old chaussee was widened early in the 20th century. The original road would have followed the grassy strip between the avenue of trees, whereas the modern carriageways on either side were added later. From here the avenue continues for many kilometers almost as far as Wannssee and is a listed monument. Set back from the roadside on the left hand side just beyond the point at which where the chaussee straightens out is one of the largest villas in the whole neighbourhood built by a Dr. Carl Engel at the start of the First World War. If you continue for a couple of hundred meters along Potsdamer Strasse you come to the Meilenstein an der Potsdamer Chaussee (milestone on the Potsdamer Chaussee), a 6 metre high sandstone column topped by a spiked sphere and inscribed with the words “two miles to Berlin” (in Prussia one mile used to be approximately 7.5 kilometers). The Meilenstein is a of copy of a milestone originally erected on this spot in 1849 and one of a series of 15 identical milestones in Berlin, the design of which was based on a column that still stands on the steps of the capitol in Rome. The nearest milestones are on the Königstraße in Wannsee and on the Innsbrucker Platz just south of the village of Schöneberg.

North of the historischer Winkel along Clayallee

North of Potsdamer Chaussee the former village high street is a busy four-lane road with a narrow central reservation, lined with mostly late Gründerzeit apartment buildings on its western side and a fair number of dull, postwar constructions on the other. All traces of the northern section of the village green have long gone WHEN? and it now forms the southernmost end of the Clayallee. The avenue, which continues for many kilometers north into the borough of Wilmersdorf, is named after the American general Lucius Clay, who was military governor of occupied Germany from 1947 to 1949 and best known and loved (at least in West Berlin) as the father of the Berlin airlift, .

Immediately north of the old school house the two nicely restored buildings at numbers 353 and 353A are the extensions added to the school building in 1900 and 1909 after it became home to the district council. The later building stands on the site of the original Spritzenhaus (fire station) which relocated to the Onkel Tom Strasse in 1908.

A little further north at number 347/349 is a surviving – although much altered – example of one of Zehlendorf’s original village farmhouses. The Zinnowsches Haus, named after the Zinnow family, whose farm had stood on this site for centuries, was given a major makeover by local landowner Otto Bethge in 1904. Bethge wanted its appearance to better reflect his wealth and status and so he added a neoclassical gable and a renaissance tower to the façade. Thereafter it was known as the Villa der Hauptstrasse and today its tenants include the local branch of the CDU, usually Zehlendorf’s party of choice at elections. Just beyond you can take a short detour left into the Propst-Süßmilch-Weg for a nice view of the back of the churchyard and the surrounding buildings. Continuing further up the Clayallee as far as the porcelain shop at number 337 CHECK brings you to the former site of the village’s smaller northern pond, which was filled in in 1896. It was here that Zehlendorf’s first blacksmith set up shop during the early years of the settlement’s existence. The business operated from this site until 1877, after which it moved into new premises behind one of the roadside houses, eventually closing around the time of the First World War. A little further beyond the corner of Sidonie Scharfe Strasse, today overlooked by the Toblerone shapred Zehlendorfer Welle shopping centre, marks the northernmost extent of the old village.

Around the Village and Further Afield:

 South beyond the Railway Station and on to the Schönower Park

South of the S-Bahn station underpass the first historical landmark you reach is the Altes Postamt (old post office) on the corner of Teltower Damm and Machnower Strasse. This handsome, redbrick building with a front loggia and ….. was completed in 1883 but was only in use for only twenty years until the new Kaiserliches Postamt (Imperial Post Office) was opened on the other side of the railway line in 1903. From here you can make a short detour up the Machnower Strasse to the Droste Hülshoff Schule, which stands on the corner of Schönower Strasse. Formerly known as the Höhere Mädchenschule (Highschool for Girls), the school was built by the district council in 1903 in order to accommodate the increasing number of girls requiring education and was the first of three major school construction projects to be completed in Zehlendorf at the start of the twentieth century. The building was designed by the Bavarian born architect Jakob Seidelmaier and features a couple of baroque towers typical of his homeland. There’s also something of an alpine feel to the the steeply pitched roofs and half timbered gables.

Back on the Teltower Damm, there’s a a short pedestrian cut opposite the old Postamt through to the Herbergerweg, which leads up to  Mühlenstrasse (Mill Street), the site of Zehlendorf’s first village windmill. Although there’s no trace of it left the windmill once stood at the top of a gentle incline on the corner of Mühlenstrasse and Herbergerweg. Mentioned in Kaiser Karl’s Landbuch of 1375, it was built and operated by the monks of Lehnin, whose many skills included the construction of wooden post mills – where the main body of the mill rotated on a central post so that the sails would always face in the direction of the wind. The mill was replaced in 1881 by two windmills on today’s Berliner Strasse to the northeast of the village and finally demolished in 1875 (BECAUSE OF THE EXTENSION OF THE RAILWAY LINE – CHECK). Of the two new windmills, the first on the corner of Sundgauer Strasse survived only 10 years while the Holländische Mühle (Dutch Windmill) about half a kilometer further up Berliner Strasse is still standing – see “Worth Seeing Nearby” below.

The land along the gently curving Mühlenstrasse, including the thickly wooded triangle on its southern side, was once the domain of the wealthy Berlin café and hotel owner Ferdinand Keck. In 1878 Keck bought himself a farm on the Teltower Damm, which he tore down and replaced with a 17 room mansion which he named Lindenhof. He then proceeded to turn the 4000 square meters of land behind it into an enchanted garden traversed by a network of pathways lined with life sized terracotta deer and gnomes. At its centre the garden featured a replica of the blue grotto in Capri crowned by a mock ruin in the form of a castle tower built of Thuringian stone. The grotto contained the millstone from the demolished windmill which formed a huge table, reminding visitors to the garden of the Kyffhäuser legend in which the holy Roman Emporer Frederick Barbarossa sleeps in a hidden chamber underneath the Kyffhäuser hills, sitting at a stone table through which his beard has grown. As if all that wasn’t enough a series of waterfalls cascaded down from a raised plateau into a stream that fed a pond teeming with carp and goldfish and there was also a hidden walkway which wound through an Alpine fantasy landscape of valleys, tunnels and gorges planted with Swiss flora. A small temple, which stood on the corner of Mühlenstrasse and Prinz Handjery Strasse, its domed cupola topped by a gilded figure of Hermes, is now on display in the Heimatmuseum. Quite a sensation at the time, the entire complex was sold in 1908 and sadly nothing remains of either the villa or the garden.

Continuing south along Prinz Handjery Strasse – named after the son of a Russian state bureaucrat who became a member of the Reichstag representing the Teltow area – you’ll pass a few nice villas dating from the 1880s before coming to the cul de sac Im Schönower Park. Before turning into it, it’s worth making a short detour left into the Knesebeckstrasse for a quick look at the house at number 5 on the corner of Stubenrauchstrasse. The so-called Muthesius Haus, which doesn’t share the mainly derivative styling of the other villas in the neighbourhood, was built for state minister Hermann von Seefeld in 1905 and is one of Hermann Muthesius’ earliest attempts at recreating the English country house style in Berlin. The influential anglophile architect was one of the founders of the Deutscher Werkbund, an association of architects designers and industrialists which aimed to integrate traditional crafts with modern production techniques. He went on to build over 100 houses throughout the Berlin and eventually settled in Zehlendorf himself.

The short street Im Schönower Park leads into the Kleinhaussiedlung am Schönower Park, a pocket sized garden city completed in 1922 by architects Rudolf Fisch and Gustav Kemper. It consists of only seven almost identical houses with steeply pitched roofs that look a bit like they were built to house Snow White’s dwarves. The houses are no longer all in their original state but numbers five to seven have been nicely renovated and the best preserved of all at number three has retained its original external friezes featuring ??? CHECK WHAT IS ON THEM.

From the Siedlung you can cut through into the Schönower Park which is heavily wooded and slopes gently down to the Teltower Damm. It continues as the Schweizerhofpark on the other side of the street. Both parks – along with the larger Heinrich Laehr Park to the south – were originally part of an extensive network of gardens belonging to the Schweizerhof psychiatric clinic opened by the psychiatrist Dr. Heinrich Laehr in 1854 – see also guide to Schönow. Laehr, who had studied agriculture as well as medicine, established his clinic on farmland between the villages of Zehlendorf and Schönow, where he felt the healing power of nature could be harnessed for the treatment of his patients. Having initially bought the large Schweizerhof farm on the Teltower Damm he gradually acquired additional land from the former Schönow village estate and built a series of free standing houses in which to accommodate the patients. Laehr’s houses had little in common with the grim lunatic asylums in which the mentally ill were usually treated at the time and his ground breaking treatments included bathing therapy, gymnastics and plenty of long walks in the gardens, whose paths extended for over 20 kilometers. To cater for his patient’s spiritual health Laehr provided a library containing 1500 books, while the gardens themselves were dotted with works of art. The complex used to stretch from the Mühlenstrasse almost as far as the village of Schönow and included a game reserve and a farm in which food was produced for the clinic. After World War One the clinic and its gardens were sold to the city of Berlin and its buildings gradually torn down. Only the Haus Schönow complex on the Teltower Damm survived and is today the centre piece of a geriatric clinic – see guide to Schönow) Today Schweizerhof’s gardens survive in the form of the Heinrich Laehr, Schweizerhof and Schönower parks, the last of which also contains the Laehr family graveyard and a memorial – you’ll find them at the northen end of the park by the Prinz Handjery Strasse. The sprawling campus of the John F. Kennedy International School now stands on the site of the original Schweizerhof farm just south of the Schönower Park.

West of the village – Martin-Buber-Strasse, Beuckestrasse and the boy’s schools

The Martin-Buber-Strasse, named after the Austrian born Jewish philosopher, was known as the Kaiserstrasse until 1966. This gently curving street with its pleasant triangular squares forms part of a network of leafy lanes lined with villas and small apartment blocks laid out to the west of the village during the last years of the 19th century. To the south of the Pauluskirche a number of fine, free standing villas have survived the creeping extensions to the Rathaus complex on one side of the street, while the distinctive Villa Margarete with its pointed gothic tower and wooden loggia overlooks the Nentershäuser Platz from the corner of Hohenzollernstrasse. The Martin-Buber-Strasse is also home to the Leo-Borchard-Musikschule – according to its website Germany’s largest music school – and Zehlendorf’s public library, which is named after the 20th century expressionist poet and novelist Gottfried Benn.

The two highlights of the neighbourhood are without doubt the its impressive boy’s schools, both built at the start of the twentieth century, which stand within a couple of hundred meters of each other on the Beuckestrasse. The first of these you’ll reach on entering the Beuckestrasse from Martin-Buber-Strasse is the redbrick Schadowgymnasium, which was the second of the two schools to be completed. Now named after the 19th century Prussian sculptor Johann Gottfired Schadow it was opened in 1914 and started out as an Oberrealschule (higher secondary school), only later becoming a grammar school. Although the building has some classical elements the architects Paul Mebbes and Karl Krug designed it to be a modern and functional contrast to the pointed neo-gothic towers and gables of the surrounding villas. It’s most noticeable feature is its boxy clock tower topped by a cupola which was for a time home to a family of falcons.

The splendid Beucke-Schule stands on the corner of Neue Strasse a short distance beyond the Schadowgymnasium. Somewhat confusingly named after the Schadowgynasium’s first headmaster Dr. Karl Beucke – who was killed on the Russian front during the First World War – it started life in 1904 as Zehlendorf’s first purpose-built grammar school and later became a Realschule or secondary modern. With its striking white exterior peppered with banks of narrow arched windows framed in red stone and its pointed towers and swirling gables the neo-renaissance school could almost double as a fairlytale castle or palace. It cost 730,000 marks to build and is the work of Frankfurt based architect Franz Thyriot, whose design was chosen ahead of 50 other entries. Kaiser Wilhelm himself took an active interest in the school’s construction regularly monitored progress on the site from the comfort of his royal train as it sped past its way to and from Potsdam. Indeed, he even sent his son to the opening ceremony.

Beyond the two schools the cobbled streets of the surrounding neighbourhood make for a pleasant walk. There are a host of fine villas set behind wrought iron fences lining streets such as Hohenzollernstrasse, Neue Strasse, Ahornstrasse and Markgrafenstrasse, many of which are listed buildings. Should you choose to return to the centre of Zehlendorf along the Königstrasse you should look out for a spectacular specimen with a tower at number 40 which is now part of the flashy new Königsquartier housing development, as well as the lovely Villa Bergmann at number 43 on the corner of Markgrafenstraße.

North of the village from Sidonie Schafe Strasse into the Villenkolonie Grunewald

The streets north of the village and west of the Clayallee were laid out in 1905 as part of the Zehlendorf Grunewald Kolonie, a residential development built on former agricultural land. It consisted of a mixture free standing villas and medium sized apartment blocks designed to appeal to well do to Berliners wanting to move out of the city centre.

The leafy Scharfe Strasse which marks the southern extent of the former Kolonie is named after Sidonie Scharfe, the philanthropist and last owner of the Lehnschluzengut.    The south side of the street between Clayallee and Pasewalkstrasse is dominated by the two appartment blocks built for the Seniorenwohnhein Sidonie Scharfe Stiftung. The first of the two buildings to be completed is the one further along the street at number 8-10. Opened in 1914 it has the name of the foundation chiseled in stone over its arched main doorway. Phase two with its somewhat cleaner lines and distinctive green, ground floor shutters, followed in 1926 as the demand for accommodation rapidly exceeded supply. The building is missing its main hall which was damaged by allied bombing during the Second World War. Both houses are set in pleasant grounds and now contain a total of 77 apartments for elderly women, each with its own bathroom and kitchen.

The north side of the street is lined with some lovely villas and apartment buildings typical of the Grunewald Kolonie. Especially attractive is the house at number 5 built for the painter Alfred Kutta, with its quirky little conservatory window, recessed balconies and corner tower. The white Jugendstil house next door at number 7 is also a beauty.

Continuing up the Clayalle beyond Scharfestrasse you’ll quickly reach the newspaper kiosk on the corner of Riemeisterstrasse, where you get a first glimpse of the broad, redbrick tower of the Roman Catholic Herz-Jesu-Kirche. The spire is 12 meters lower than that of the Pauluskirche and although similarly neo-gothic in style the church is a rather more heavyset and earthbound than its soaring cousin in the Kirchstrasse. Immigration from other parts of Germany meant that the number of Roman Catholics in Zehlendorf had risen to over 1000 by 1906 and for a time they had to hold their Sunday masses in a converted barn behind the Gasthaus zur Goldenen Sonne. The company responsible for the development of the Grunewald Kolonie eventually provided a plot of land for a new church and the building was consecrated in 1908. Construction costs had mostly been financed by donations, in particular by the bishop of Breslau in staunchly Roman Catholic Silesia. The church sits rather comfortably amongst the villas of the Kolonie and even its half timbered vicarage is nicely in keeping with the style of some of the surrounding houses.

Beyond the church it’s a pleasant stroll along the Riemeisterstrasse – the Kolonie’s main axis – past some fine houses to the corner of Schütz Strasse. Here, set back from the street behind some elaborate wrought iron fencing you’ll find the Villa Calé, undoubtedly the finest villa in the Grunewald Kolonie. This magnificent, neo-classical palais with its profusion of towers and cupolas was built for the wealthy publisher Franz Calè in 1907. In more recent times it accommodated the German Federal Institute for Media and Film Education and a film production company. The embassy of Qatar bought the villa some years after the fall of the Berlin Wall but sold it on again a few years later – possibly after belatedly noticing the topless female figure on the cupola. For a while it stood empty, its once ornate gardens neglected and overgrown, but it has recently been resotored to its former glory.

From the Villa Calé you can meander back towards the heart of Zehlendorf through the leafy streets of the Grunewald Kolonie. Schützstrasse, Schmarjestrasse, Schweitzerstrasse and Milnowskistrasse are all lined with impressive houses. Alternatively you can carry on north along the Riemeisterstrasse (HOW FAR, HOW LONG?) to the pleasant little Fischtalpark, a green corridor fringed by fir trees which is set along a narrow valley formed during the last ice age.


Worth Seeing Nearby

 20’s and 30’s Housing Projects around Zehlendorf – see Feature box

 Zehlendorfer Gartenstadt (Zehlendorf Garden City)

The Zehlendorfer Gartenstadt is one of the first of many small housing developments to be built in and around Berlin at the turn of the 20th century, which were inspired by the English garden city movement. Built on a 7 hectare site just a short distance from the railway station in three phases between 1912 and 1923 – plus a later addition in 1930 – the development stretches along the Berlepschstrasse from the Schrockstrasse in the East to the Radtkestrasse in the West. It was built by the Beamten-Wohnungs-Verein zu Berlin, a housing association serving lower and middle ranking bureaucrats, and consists of mostly terraced homes. The architects were Paul Mebbes – who did Zehlendorf’s Schadow Gymnasium –  his brother in law Paul Emmerich and Franz Tonndorf who designed the section built in the 1930’s.

It’s quite easy to identify the three main phases of the development if you take a look down the side streets off Belepschstrasse. The first phase consisted of 16 blocks of terraced housing along Belepschstrasse, Rothersteig, Dallwitzstraße and the western side of the Camphausestrasse. The light beige facades have a touch of the English country house style about them with neoclassical front gables, green shutters on the first floor windows and decorative elements set around handsome front doors. The rather small front gardens are compensated for by loggias and a much larger helping of greenery at the back. The second phase along the Radtkestarsse, Thürstrasse and Dallwitzstraße was delayed until 1919 because of the First World War. It’s much plainer, featuring none of the stylistic elements of phase one, however the doors, window frames and shutters were originally painted in bold colours. Phase three, covering the Eastern side of Camphausestrasse, Schrockstrasse  Belepschtrasse, Grenzpfad  and the short cul de sac Am Weissen Steg retains the cleaner lines of phase 2 but is more interesting to look at. Set for the most part around a single block with garden plots for the tenants set in the middle it consists of mostly terraced housing, along with a few semidetached units. The houses feature distinctive, Hanseatic stepped end gables – some of them with oriels – as well as external corner towers for the staircases. Originally the facades were painted a dazzling mixture of ochre, green, brown, white, violet and red but this all disappeared under a sober coat of off-white in the 1930’s. The much plainer houses built in the 1930s during the last phase of the development can be found along Radtkestrasse and Thürstrasse.

The Gartenstadt is about a 15 minute walk from Zehlendorf S-Bahn station along Machnower Strasse and Berlepsch Strasse. Alternatively you can take bus number 115 heading in the direction of Spanische Allee/Potsdamer Chaussee from either Zehlendorfer Eiche or S-Bahn Zehlendorf and get off at the Camphausen Strasse stop.

 Museumsdorf Düppel

To get an idea of how Zehlendorf might have looked before the monks of Lehnin began knocking it into shape then the Museumsdorf Düppel (Düppel Musuem Village) makes for a fascinating visit. On what was originally an archeological site on the edge of the Düppler forest (indeed it is the original site of the failed village of Düppel) this open air recreation of a 13th century settlement gives visitors a taste of village life in the Middle Ages. The whole thing looks and feels remarkably authentic with volunteers on hand to demonstrate agricultural techniques and crafts including metalwork, weaving, pottery, wood carving, rope making and even the production of tar. A small shop on the site also sells food from the Middle Ages and you can try out delicacies including bread, mead, soups and millet gruel. The museum has become an important centre for the study of experimental archeology and all of the production techniques demonstrated have been meticulously researched and recreated based on sources from the time. They also run a rebreeding programme for old/disappeared/extinct domestic animal breeds as well as experimenting with the cultivation of old agricultural crops.

The Museumsdorf Düppel is open from March to October on Thursdays (15:00-19:00) and Sundays and on public holidays (10:00-17:00). There are also regular special events based on a variety of themes – see information of the website. Entrance costs € 2.00 for adults and is free for children up to the age of 18. For special events this rises to €4.00 for adults and €1.00 for children.

To get there take bus 115 from the Zehlendorfer Eiche or from the S-Bahn station in the direction of Spanische Allee/Potsdamer Chaussee and get off at the Ludwigsfelderstrasse stop at the corner of Clauertstrasse. It’s just a few minutes walk up Clauerststrasse to the entrance of the museum.

Traces of the Stammbahn and Zehlendorf Süd S-Bahn Station

Before visiting the Museumsdorf Düppel it’s worth stopping at the sharp bend in the Clauertstrasse just before the entrance to the museum for a glimpse of traces of the old Stammbahn railway. A single line of overgrown track has survived alongside a footpath where locals walk their dogs, most of them probably unaware that Prussia’s first steam trains once chugged right through here on their way to and from Potsdam. Also still visible are the remains of the S-Bahn station Zehlendorf Süd which first opened in 1972. The S-Bahn ran along the Stammbahn tracks between Zehlendorf and Potsdam until 1945 and a shuttle service between Zehlendorf and Düppel continued after the war until 1980. The station signs, now rusty and barely legible, are still there as well as the platform and a small shelter for passengers. You can still follow the line of the Stammbahn on foot south past the neglected remnants of the Düppel S-Bahn station deep into the Düppler Forst.

Holländische Mühle – Berliner Strasse

Zehlendorf’s only surviving windmill, the Holländische Mühle (Dutch Windmill) can be reached on foot by heading up the Berliner Strasse past National Socialist housing developments from the late 1930’s – a walk of about 15 minutes from the historischer Winkel. Alternatively you can hop on bus M48, 101 or 184 at Zehlendorfer Eiche and get off at Holländische Mühle. While waiting for the bus you might want to take a quick peep down the Gartenstrasse for a glimpse of the Primus Palast. Built in 1906 as a dance hall for the Lindenhof Hotel, it later accommodated the first cinema to open in Berlin after the end of World War Two. In recent years the 550 square meter dance hall with its sweeping Jugendstil ceiling and parquet floor has been restored to its former glory and can again be used for what it was originally intended.

The Holländische Mühle, with its circular brick base and rotating cap was built in 1881 to replace the old wooden post mill that had stood to the south of the village until 1875. It survived a fire that broke out shortly after its completion, and its power source was switched to gas in 1898 as there was insufficient wind. The mill now stands set back from the main road in a complex of brick buildings which include a bake house and stables. After the neighbouring Schlettstadtstrasse housing development was built in 1936 residents regularly complained about the noise made by the rotating sails and they were eventually removed during the final years of the Second World War in order to prevent them providing allied bomber pilots with a navigational orientation point. The windmill’s old cap, on which the sails were mounted, now lies on the ground next to it. The mill was still grinding five to six tons of corn a day in 1948 but later fell into disrepair. It was renovated in 1996 and its original brick façade and wooden window frames have been restored and has since been converted into a rather quirky home. For the best view of the windmill take the footpath that cuts through from the Berliner Strasse to Schlettstadter Strasse. There’s a panel here with information on the history of the mill.

Lakes Near Zehlendorf: Schlachtensee, Krumme Lanke, Waldsee




Haus am Waldsee Museum:

From: http://www.hausamwaldsee.de/index.php?lang=de

Open: Dienstag bis Sonntag 11 bis 18 Uhr; Montag geschlossen

Café open: Mittwoch bis Sonntag 12 bis 18 Uhr; Montag und Dienstag geschlossen

Nice Cafe: Es gibt hausgemachte Kuchen und Suppen sowie Tee- und Kaffeespezialitäten. Bei schönem Wetter auch auf den Wiesen zwischen den Skulpturen im Park.


Das Haus am Waldsee ist ein Ort der internationalen Kunst, die in Berlin entsteht. Es gehört seit 1946 zu den führenden Ausstellungshäusern für zeitgenössische Kunst in Deutschland. Es macht kreative Kräfte sichtbar, die auf den Gebieten der bildenden Kunst, des Designs, der Architektur und des Klangs innovativ denken und herausragend arbeiten. Fünf Ausstellungen im Jahr stellen zumeist Einzelpositionen der internationalen Gegenwartskunst sowie der klassischen Nachkriegsmoderne vor. In konzentrierter Atmosphäre werden Hintergründe und Entwicklungen so kommuniziert, dass vor allem auch Kinder und Jugendliche aktiv angesprochen werden.

Dass neben Urbanität im Haus am Waldsee auch Natur erlebt werden kann, macht es zu einem Ort der Kontemplation. Sein geschützter Park am Seeufer stellt plastische Werke von Künstlern vor, die den jeweils aktuell gültigen Begriff von Bildhauerei neu definieren.

Das Ausstellungshaus ist auch ein Ort der Begegnung. Regelmäßig finden in den Ausstellungen Künstlergespräche, Künstleressen, Führungen und Kunstworkshops statt, die zum unmittelbaren Austausch mit den Protagonisten einladen. Konzerte in der Kunst runden mit internationalen, in Berlin lebenden Interpreten das Programm ab. Darüber hinaus werden Audioguides zur Architektur der Moderne angeboten, die in die unmittelbare Umgebung des Hauses führen, wo ungewöhnlich viele Inkunabeln der Architektur zwischen Werkbund und Bauhaus zu entdecken sind.

Besucher können sich im Haus am Waldsee und seinem Skulpturenpark von den zeitgenössischen Künsten intellektuell, praktisch und sinnlich inspirieren lassen und neue Perspektiven entwickeln. Aus dem Aufeinandertreffen von Fremdem entsteht fortwährend Neues. Im Haus am Waldsee, dem kleinen „Louisiana von Berlin“, können alle Generationen den kreativen Prozess der Innovation unmittelbar miterleben.