Capital of the furry teddies

Looking back on Berlin’s history begs the question of how the bear became its symbol. Unfortunately it is not clear what was here first; Berlin or the bear. It wasn’t until 1280 when the bear became the heraldic animal of Berlin. Today its image is still used for advertisements on different logos, certifications, newspapers, publications, […]

Looking back on Berlin’s history begs the question of how the bear became its symbol. Unfortunately it is not clear what was here first; Berlin or the bear. It wasn’t until 1280 when the bear became the heraldic animal of Berlin. Today its image is still used for advertisements on different logos, certifications, newspapers, publications, agencies, stamps and even more in and around Berlin. The bear even became a permanent part of the city’s flag in 1908.

Berlin bear art is scattered all over the city in the form of sculptures, plastic models and architecture, most of which are hidden amongst the less touristprone areas. Some have also just been rebuilt after they got eliminated or damaged during the Nazi regime. Today, especially in Prenzlauer Berg, there are many furry inhabitants decorating the streets. In the middle of the public Volkspark lives the most colorful bear in Berlin. He was born in 1970 and fell pray to some graffiti artists in the last couple of years. However they decided to keep him blue and call him Käpt’n Blaubär (Captain Blue bear) which is now a great attraction for children who know this bear from TV.

At the Moabiter Bridge (Bartningallee) there are four different bears designed by four sculptors each at a different location. The bridge was built between 1893 and 1894 and was rebuilt due to war damage between 1980 and 1981. The stone bears are positioned on all fours and appear to be giant when standing in front of them, their huge paws and enormous claws making them appear even larger. Their bodies look big and round, nevertheless they do not appear as feared creatures but rather as cute clumsy bears, which delight the pedestrians who pass over the bridge. Around this area small cafes and a cozy restaurant at the Spree River invite everybody to sit down and relax.

One of the most important bear art pieces is W. Sutkowski’s refurbished fountain, which was rebuilt after being destroyed during World War II. Sutowski made his artwork out of red Lava Tuff stone which gives it an interesting pattern. This fountain is decorated with one bear in the center and eight smaller bears around, almost as if the mother bear is watching her children frolic.

Some of the bear art pieces are also used for charity. In 2001 Eva Herlitz had the idea to paint bear sculptures, sell them at auctions and give the money to UNICEF and other children aid organizations. In this way they could donate more than two million dollars in the last eight years. Jackie Chan even brought the idea of the United Buddy Bears to Hong Kong. Everybody can support this project, take part in the competition and maybe get the chance to give a buddy bear a new fur colour. If you want to get a shot of this famous Berlin symbol- just keep your eyes open and wherever you may go you will always find a bear.

Travel Writing group Berlin

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