34. Wörlitz Palaces and Gardens

With the Wörlitz landscape park, the artistic highlight of the Dessau-Wörlitz Garden Kingdom, a "Gesamtkunstwerk" (synthesis of the arts) of garden design and architecture was created with hitherto unprecedented harmony. A gondola ride or a walk through the UNESCO World Heritage Site provides brilliant and surprising views of sculptures, groups of trees, bridges, buildings, and water.

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The History of the Wörlitz Gardens

Inspired by his first trip to England and with the help of his friend and adviser, the architect Friedrich Wilhelm von Erdmannsdorff (1736-1800), Prince Leopold III. Friedrich Franz of Anhalt-Dessau (1740-1817) began to transform the landscape around Wörlitz in 1765. Over the next 40 years, the Wörlitz Gardens became the first landscape park in the English style in Central Europe.

The Wörlitz Gardens with their neo-classical and neo-Gothic buildings were the initial inspiration and highlight of the Dessau-Wörlitz Garden Kingdom and they epitomise the Enlightenment in Germany. Over time, the park became a pilgrim goal and a model for many other parks.

The new gardens were also complemented with the construction of a new palace. Wörlitz Palace (1769–1773) is now considered to be the founding building of Classicism in Germany. When it was completed, Prince Franz began to build the Gothic House, which marked the beginning of the neo-Gothic period in Germany.

The 112-hectare park consists of five separate gardens which transition seamlessly and without fencing into the surrounding countryside: the Palace Garden, Neumark's Garden, Schoch's Garden, the Weidenheger, and the New Gardens, which are separated by water, but are linked with bridges and sightlines to form a cohesive, single unit. Numerous buildings, small park structures, sculptures, and tree plantings were integrated into the sophisticated system of sightlines.

A series of views that continue to surprise, delight, and educate visitors to this day. The various bridges in the landscape park thus reflect the history of bridge design and illustrate Prince Franz' educational intentions. Just as the artificial island Stein and the canals, the watchmen’s houses, and the fields were all integrated into the gardens, the bridges combine “Nützliche mit dem Schönen" ("useful with the beautiful"), a central theme in the Garden Kingdom.

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