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“My heart belongs to my garden”

Born of a noble background, Prince Hermann von Pückler-Muskau (1785-1871) was one of the most gifted landscape gardeners of his time. Before he was struck by this passion, he spent his days as an eccentric bon vivant with a fondness for writing. On a stroll with Goethe through the park on the Ilm in Weimar, the great poet advised him to pursue a career in landscape gardening, commenting: “It seems you have a talent for it!”. The romantic features that bear his hallmark are everywhere to be seen. He worked according to the philosophy: “Landscape garden art in its purest form is only achieved when you release nature from its shackles, albeit in the noblest possible way.” Though he only turned his hand to a few parks, all in the English style, his later work at Branitz is a masterpiece and his first creation at Muskau is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
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Prince Pückler Park, Bad Muskau and Branitz

On a sojourn in England, the Prussian aristocrat toured countless landscaped gardens, and his fate was sealed. He returned to his home town of Muskau with a vision of his very own grand park. In 1815, he set to work on a labour of love that is still the largest English-style country park in central Europe, covering a total area of 830 hectares. Set between two palaces is the glittering lake named after Pückler's wife Lucie, which has a shoreline as distinctive as that encircling Lake Eichsee. At the palace itself, three contrasting flower gardens were laid as a natural extension of the living space. The sheer magnitude of his monumental task ruined Pückler financially, and in 1845 he was forced to sell. But the park fanatic held firm to his romantic ideals and would not give up. A year later he started from scratch with his inherited estate at Branitz. In contrast to the attractive countryside in Muskau, Branitz was located in an area of Brandenburg known for its flat, sandy terrain. The result was a 100-hectare work of art with similar stylistic features to those in Muskau, but more classically picturesque and clustered closer together. One earthwork pyramid is set amid the trees and the other – the “Tumulus” where Pückler and his wife are buried – on an island in a lake. Another prominent feature is the white baroque palace fashioned by Dresden architect Gottfried Semper.
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Babelsberg Palace

The passionate landscape gardener was held in such high esteem that in 1842, Friedrich Wilhelm IV entrusted him to create the palace park at Babelsberg near Potsdam – a late triumph over his constant rival Peter Joseph Lenné who was the first to work on the soon-to-be country park in the English style. Babelsberg Palace and Park are located in the district of the same name in Potsdam, the state capital of Brandenburg. In 1833, the summer residence for the future Kaiser Wilhelm I was built in the neo-Gothic style to plans by Karl Friedrich Schinkel. Many of the original furnishings remain intact and reflect the dominance of neo-Gothic at the time. Integrated into the park, which sprawls outwards from the banks of the Havel river, is the medieval “Flatowturm” tower and a smaller residence.
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Altenstein Palace & Park

Situated in the Thuringian Forest not far from Erfurt, this two-storey neo-Renaissance palace is at the heart of an idyllic 160-hectare country park boasting a waterfall and natural cave. From this former summer residence of the Dukes of Saxe-Meiningen and its park, you can enjoy wonderful views as far as the Rhön hills. Of great interest are the nearby woods, where Martin Luther was ambushed on his journey back from Worms before being taken to Wartburg Castle.
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  1. Prince Pückler Park, Bad Muskau and Branitz
  2. Babelsberg Palace
  3. Altenstein Palace & Park