In the heart of Europe, in the colourful, artistic, cosmopolitan, loud and uninhibited Berlin, a curios traveller can discover many interesting sites. But, maybe, one of the things one expects least to see in the German capital is a Buddhist temple.
Das Buddhistische Haus is a small Buddhist complex located in Frohnau, a locality in the extreme north of Berlin, part of Reinickendorf borough. It is a National Heritage site and considered to be nothing less then the oldest and largest Theravada Buddhist center in Europe. Away from the crowded and noisy city, you can easily sneak a peek into the calming world of Buddhism and discover a picturesque location.
According to the temple’s website, the complex was founded by Dr. Paul Dahlke, Buddhist Philosopher and pioneer of Buddhism in Europe, on the highest point in Frohnau. It was built between 1922 and 1924 in order to serve the Buddhist community Dahlke had founded in Berlin. After his death, in 1928, the house was inherited by his relatives and Buddhists were no longer allowed to meet there. After the war, the building became a refugee shelter, it deteriorated and was considered for demolition. But in December 1957, Asoka Weeraratna from Sri Lanka bought the house from Dahlke’s nephew on behalf of the German Dharmaduta Society (GDS). It was renovated and became the Buddhist complex that still stands today.
Das Buddhistische Haus is located on a small hill, at the edge of a green, wooded area in a quiet family neighbourhood of Frohnau. After entering the elephant door and ascending 73 steps and eight platforms, symbolising the Buddha’s eight-fold path to enlightenment, you get to a small Asian style house (it actually incorporates elements of Sri Lankan Buddhist architecture), comprising an cosy library and a temple. They are both open to the public, daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Visitors are also allowed to walk through the nice, lengthy garden, bordered by tall trees and decorated with statues and a shrine. There are guided tours and courses available. There is no entrance fee but, if you want, you can make a contribution using the donations box inside.