von der Heydt
|The Villa von der Heydt is one of the last villas in Tiergarten to survive Albert
Speers development plans for the capital and, though badly damaged, come through the Second World War. The building, constructed in 1862, enjoyed two quiet decades. Then the history of its use and occupancy became quite turbulent. In the 1880’s, the Chinese embassy rented the building and ran it like a guesthouse. There was talk of smoked ham, shark fins, dried duck and dense clouds of tobacco and opium smoke. In the eyes of the poet, Theodor
Fontane, whose daily stroll led him past the villa, the water of the Landwehr Canal was already turning into the heavy yellow torrent of the Yang-tse-kiang. Between 1890 and the First World War, Karl von der Heydt, who was a nephew of the original builder, won back his family’s villa for German cultural life and from it led one of the most glittering salons of Berlin society. In 1919, after war and revolution, the von der Heydt family gave up the lovely house which was then taken over by the Allgemeine Deutsche Sportverein e.V. (The General German Sports Club). Under the protection of this inconspicuous name, an exclusive club was established. For almost fifteen years, until 1933, its members indulged in playing poker and baccarat in the extensive rooms of the secluded villa. Shortly after the Second World War, the cellar of the ruined house was rebuilt and used right up to the 60’s to produce sweets and pralines. In 1966 the house was listed. Salvage work began and the rebuilding was completed in 1979. Today, the classicistic villa with its striking upper storey, surrounded by a low stone railing and crowned with vases, is the residence of the President of the Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz (Foundation for Prussian Culture). It sits under tall old trees in a walled garden in the wide meadow alongside the Landwehr Canal, between Herkulesufer and Von-der-Heydt-Strasse. A discreet path runs between the water and the garden wall to the Hiroshima-Steg, a more recent footbridge over the Landwehrkanal. From the cafeteria of the neighbouring Bauhausarchiv there is a good view of the pleasant scenery.