At the end of the 18th century an island of 88 hectares in the Havel was renamed by Friedrich Wilhelm II into Pfaueninsel, the Island of Peacocks, introducing several of the birds in this place as a living symbol of sensual passion. Friedrich, with a penchant for mysticism, and his lover Wilhelmine von Lichtenau built here a small palace with rooms ornate in exotic style and a ruinous looking dairy of neo-gothic taste for their personal pleasure. P. J. Lenné and K. F. Schinkel following the wish of the successor Friedrich Wilhelm III and Luise von Mecklenburg transformed the island into a model farm for the quiet retreats of the monarchs and increased the exotic nature of the place with an intricate menagerie of foreign plants and animals strolling free, like in a safari.
The island is still today of immense importance for its spectacular landscape and rich and diverse flora and fauna. Dry meadows, rare mosses and ferns as well as uncommon trees characterize this area. Nearly immortal, centuries-old oaks are present here in different stages of decay and transformation. Heritage and ecological intentions are merged aesthetically in this cultural artifact, shown in the re-introduction of water buffaloes, in the extensive meadows and the beautiful way to manage decaying wood and coarse woody habitats.
Jan Uhlig, director of Pfaueninsel, will lead this excursion.
(fig: Ancient oak tree on the Pfaueninsel, Sandra Bartoli)
Ferry station / Anlegestelle ‘Pfaueninsel’
(Route: S-Bahnhof Wannsee + Bus 218)