Branitz Park near Cottbus represents the life’s work as well as the later work of the eccentric landscape gardener Hermann Prince von Pückler-Muskau (1785–1871) and is a masterpiece of the eccentric landscape gardener. Nothing remains to remind visitors that this ideal image of nature was built on what was once flat and barren farming land. Created from scratch with a gently sloping landscape featuring elegant watercourses and ponds and beautifully laid out woods, Branitz is a highlight in the history of the art of landscaped gardens. With good reason it is an internationally acclaimed monument to landscape gardening.
Shaped by the year’s of his life between the French Revolution and the founding of the German Empire, and inspired by his numerous extended trips to England and the Orient among other places, Prince Pückler created Branitz Park and the cultivated landscape as a reflection of his personality. The gardens were created beginning in 1846 when Pückler was forced to sell the lordship of Muskau with the park that was designated a UNESCO world heritage monument in 2004 and which represents his early work. Branitz Park is a work of garden art measuring more than 600 hectares that was masterfully landscaped using the zoning principle. The park thus features a concentration of creative and custodial work that gradually intensifies from the outer to the inner areas of the park where it is concentrated in the pleasure ground and the castle at the centre. The first stage of this zoning system is the outer Branitz park, the “ornamental farm”, with its skilfully landscaped meadows and fields featuring a mixture of woods along with the meadows, fields and pastures, and representing an ideal connection between the artistic garden and the agriculturally used areas. A drive leading through the park grounds functions as an “invisible guide“ connecting the various landscapes that have been skilfully laid out like beads on a chain. Today the Cottbus animal park and the Spree pastureland park are located inside the historic outer part of Branitz Park.
The inner park stand outs from the rest of the park through a more imaginative design, and here particularly with its more elaborately landscaped relief featuring artificial lakes with hedges highlighting the views that dominate the open spaces that have been created through the more extensive earth movements. Two unique earth pyramids are a special feature of Branitz and a reminiscence to Prince Pückler’s trip through the Orient from 1834 to 1840. Yet different from Egypt, Pückler did not build his pyramids from stone, but rather from heaped up earth which he then had planted. The larger of the two earth structures, the Tumulus that is located in the pyramid lake, has been the burial site of Hermann Fürst von Pückler-Muskau since 1871. In the year 1884 Pückler’s wife and life partner, Lucie Countess Pückler (1776–1854), was reburied to join him in the Tumulus. In an enchanting tour of the park with the Pückler gondola, visitors can come as close as possible to the royal couple. Additional highlights of the inner park are the castle nursery with its historic greenhouses, the park blacksmith’s workshop and the estate economy with the visitor’s centre and the multimedia exhibition.
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