The Tiergarten literally means 'animal garden.' It was formerly a hunting ground before being turned into a public park by Friedrich I, the famous first Prussian king (who reigned from 1713-1740). When Friedrich II came into power, he hired his close acquaintance and landscape architect Knobelsdorff (an ex-soldier who quit his post and went to study architecture in Italy and France under the king's expense) in 1742 to redesign the garden in a more Baroque style. The popular design lasted well and for nearly a century, until Peter Joseph Lenné was commissioned to give the Tiergarten a style similar to growingly popular large Victorian garden parks in England.
Just as changes to it were happening, the Berlin Zoo was created in 1844 in the Tiergarten, since having housed thousands of animals who were visited on a daily basis by the multitudes of people who lived in and around the city. Much of the park was destroyed during World War II, and in the aftermath of the War, Berliners cut down the remaining trees to use as firewood to heat their homes. Most of the animals didn't survive the war, records show that only 91 remained after the war. In 1955, the local government began to restore the Tiergarten with the greenery being replaced, paths being rebuilt and new attractions added. The park is still home to the Berlin Zoo, by now completely restored, in the southwest corner of the Tiergarten. The number of animals totals around 13,000 in all and nearly all live in natural open habitats. The birdhouse is widely acclaimed for its variety of species and the adjacent, popular aquarium leaves no time to spare in the zoo for visitors.
Guests to the park can also visit The Victory Column (Siegessäule), the statue of golden plated goddess Victoria, which stands at 8.3 meters alone, which is also standing upon a huge column made of a red granite base, designed by architect Johann Heinrich Strack. Visitors can also climb to the top, although the climb is not for the faint-hearted of visitors as it is roughly 69m (226 ft) to get to the top, even though the ascent is well worth the stunning city views.
Not far north from the Victory Column you'll find the Schloss Bellevue or Bellevue Palace. The palace was built in 1786 for the Prussian Prince August Ferdinand. Today it is the official Berlin residence of the German President.
Another favorite in the Tiergarten is the Haus der Kulturen der Welt (House of World Cultures). The building has a famous a curved roof, which was built in 1957 by the United States for the Interbau building exhibition in the same year, held in Berlin. It currently houses many exhibitions on eclectic world cultures.
The Tiergarten is the largest park in the city, being roughly 1 square mile in area. Its more than 23 km (14 miles) of pathways make it popular with tourists and residents alike as a relaxing getaway from bustling city life, making it and its many attractions well worth the visit.