EACH SPRING, BERLIN emerges from the frozen temperatures of Central-European winter with an incredible show of color: thousands of cherry trees blooming all across the city. The origin of this unexpectedly dense concentration of cherry trees was a 1990 campaign by TV Asahi, a Japanese broadcaster who launched a fundraising effort among their viewers to help plant cherry trees in the newly-reunited Berlin. Their efforts brought in the equivalent of over a million euros, and soon numerous stands of trees were planted throughout Berlin and Brandenburg.
The land most in need of revitalization – the former death strip where the Berlin Wall had recently stood – became a welcome home to new vegetation, with long rows of the trees lining newly-opened footpaths on the so-called “Mauerweg”. One such grouping can be found near the Treptow/Kreuzberg/Neukölln border, where rows of cherry trees line the far eastern end of the Landwehrkanal. But the largest group is on the far opposite side of the city, where the Berlin neighborhoods of Lichterfelde and Steglitz border the Brandenburg village of Teltow.
Former death strip, Treptow/Kreuzberg border
TV-Asahi-Kirschblütenallee, Berlin/Brandenburg border
Today, the Kirschblütenallee (“cherry blossom avenue”) is Berlin’s premiere destination for hanami – cherry-blossom viewing – and even hosts an annual Japanese-style Hanami Festival.
The Mauerweg begins its turn back toward the east at the southern end of the Kirschblütenallee.
Berlin’s hard stop: the big skies of Brandenburg.