- Friedrich Wilhelm II had a soft spot for romantic castles nestling peacefully in the middle of the forest. In 1784, he commissioned a small castle to be built on this tiny, forested island on the River Havel, in the 'ruin-style' that was the fashion of the day among Europe's ruling classes. This is where he came to escape hectic court life and to liase with his mistress Countess Lichtenau. Three decades later landscape architect Peter Joseph Lenné (designer of the Tiergarten) was commissioned by the Emperor's successor, Friedrich Wilhelm III, to design an English landscape garden on the island. Nowadays, tourists and day-trippers flock here to stroll around the beautiful gardens, inhabited by flocks of peacocks and dotted with ruins. A wonderful mix of romantic Prussian architecture and nature, Pfaueninsel ('Peacock Island') can only be reached by ferry from Nikolskoer Weg. It is a protected national environment, so there are no roads and smoking and cycling are forbidden. But picnicking is not—so bring a picnic hamper along if you fancy a summertime treat! The castle houses a small museum.
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