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Monument to a passion for horticulture

Sophie of Hannover (1630-1714), also known as Sophie of the Palatinate, was Duchess of Brunswick-Lüneburg, Electress of Hannover and heiress presumptive of Great Britain from 1701. She was regarded as a stabilising element in baroque society with a strong faith in God and a belief in predestination. Her popularity as a guest was matched by her reputation as a hostess, and the week-long carnival celebrations she held drew aristocracy from all over central Europe. In 1658 she married Duke Ernst August von Brunswick-Lüneburg. She took a relaxed attitude toward the politics of her marriage and turned a blind eye to her husband's mistresses, affairs and pleasure-seeking sojourns to Italy. Garden design became her pastime and passion for which she sought inspiration on her travels. She died on 7 June 2021 in Herrenhausen Gardens while out on an evening stroll. There was no priest or doctor present, which is how she would have wanted it. Shortly after her death her son George was crowned King of England.
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Royal Herrenhausen Gardens, Hannover

Electress Sophie von Hannover was the mastermind behind these splendid gardens. She had the country estate and summer retreat of Herrenhausen laid out in the style of the impressive baroque gardens created by the House of Orange. At its heart is the Grosser Garten, a park resembling a vast outdoor banqueting hall, where snow-white sandstone sculptures add gravitas to the ordered nature. Herrenhausen is also home to Germany's first garden theatre: with its gilded figures, it is as spectacular a setting today as it was in Electress Sophie's day. The gardens were Sophie's great passion and Herrenhausen became a vibrant rendezvous for prominent figures in European cultural affairs. They have also preserved the history of the Guelph dynasty and illustrate the diversity of European horticulture.
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Corvey Palace, Höxter

This former Benedictine abbey in the Weserbergland hills of eastern Westphalia was one of the most important Carolingian abbeys in its day and boasted one of the region's most prestigious libraries. Hoffmann von Fallersleben, the poet, was librarian here from 1860. The abbey was rebuilt in its present form after it was destroyed in the Thirty Years' War. Highlights are the Abbey Church of St. Stephen and St. Vitus, the magnificent imperial hall and the historical living apartments and state rooms (18th/19th century).
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The Gardens of Kleve (Cleves)

This baroque garden in an idyllic setting on the Lower Rhine was designed by landscape gardener Jacob von Campen in the 17th century. It is home to a zoo on Sternberg hill, which has twelve tree-lined avenues radiating out in the shape of a star, and a wonderful amphitheatre on Springberg hill. The staggered terrace with ponds and fountains is reminiscent of a Greek theatre. In the 18th century the Forest Garden (5.6 hectares) was planted with numerous tree species in the style of an arboretum.
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Nordkirchen Palace

Nordkirchen Palace and Park are often called the “Versailles of Westphalia” because of their vast scale and baroque layout. Friedrich Christian von Plettenberg, prince bishop of Münster, commissioned the moated palace in the 18th century. It was built by Johann Conrad Schlaun on an island within a large park (170 hectares). The park and some parts of the palace are open to visitors.
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  1. Royal Herrenhausen Gardens, Hannover
  2. Corvey Palace, Höxter
  3. The Gardens of Kleve (Cleves)
  4. Nordkirchen Palace