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When you’re at Inselgarten, the Island Garden, with a fresh glass of unpasteurised Pilsner Urquell, you’ll sit in the shaded beer garden, the River Spree flowing past, birds swirl through the sky and the occasional canoeists paddle by. It’s perfectly peaceful, it’s definitely one of the most scenic Tankovna bars, and it’s hard to believe that you’re in the centre of Berlin.
Inselgarten is on the Insel der Jugend, Island of Youth, which was opened in 1896 as an island in the city, just across from Treptower Park. To get to it you walk cross the Abbey Bridge – the oldest steel and concrete composite bridge in Germany.
“It has always been a place of leisure and culture,” says André Szatkowski, joint owner with Victoria Heinz. “It was traditionally where East German families came to relax and unwind at the start of the 20th century.” Families would visit the island where they’d have lunch and relax here, walking around the island. There was also once a monastery and many houses.
“Our concept is simple,” says André. “We want to bring back Berlin from the 1920s, when local families used to come to the island and dance after church.” They have lots of black and white postcards and pictures showing people promenading in their best clothes, eating and drinking and just enjoying themselves here. “It was such a simple time – it was just about having fun in their own neighbourhood. It’s something that seems to have been forgotten as Berlin has grown. We just want to be true to the city and the history – our ambition is to make the area popular again.”
It’s certainly working and for the summer months when they’re open as a bar they attract 100,000 guests to the peaceful, open and friendly space, surrounded by nature and families. There’s also simple, good food, and live entertainment. “It’s a relaxing space for everyone,” says André.
André and Victoria originally ran Orwo House, a practice centre for musicians, so when they had the opportunity to open Inselgarten in 2010, they wanted to bring the music spaces with them, utilising recording and rehearsal studios. “We wanted somewhere that allowed us to pursue our cultural passions,” says Victoria. “So at Inselgarten we host around two concerts a month – anything from soul, jazz and funk – and have a summer open air cinema and poetry slams.”
It’s one of the most pleasantly scenic places to drink Pilsner Urquell in Berlin and André came to us at the brewery to get the beer on the island. “We wanted to get the beer in here. I feel German beer is losing character so I wanted to get Czech beer.” As there’s only one small bridge over onto the island, it requires a special van to get the Tankovna beer there. For bottled beer, the delivery driver has to walk across with trolleys and carry them over. It takes a lot of effort to get the beer there.
“We want to give back a small part of the old Berlin,” says André, who was born here and lives nearby – the same as Victoria. “It’s for that old feel – to be true to the city and the history. We want to keep on improving it while keeping it real to itself. It’s for an atmosphere of old.”
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