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The Garden Kingdom of Dessau-Wörlitz

The Garden Kingdom of Dessau-Wörlitz

The Garden Kingdom of Dessau-Wörlitz is famed for its superb landscape design, which unites art, culture and nature into one unique harmony. Visitors to the Kingdom can marvel at the many gems of garden design and architectural history throughout the 142 m2 grounds.

The Garden Kingdom of Dessau-Wörlitz

Gardens, avenues, castles and Enlightenment

The Garden Kingdom was created by Leopold III Friedrich Frank, Prince of Anhalt-Dessau (1740–1817), who transformed almost his entire principality into a beautiful landscape through an extensive development program. His visionary landscape design is characterized by a diverse range of stylistic eras. Older grounds such as the Baroque castle, the Oranienbaum Palace Gardens, and the Rococo ensemble were all artistically integrated into the new Garden Kingdom, allowing visitors to experience cultural periods from Baroque and Rococo and to Classicism and Neo-Gothic all in one place. In almost all areas of his life, Prince Franz proved to be an enlightened monarch. In addition to modernizing agriculture and education, he introduced major reforms in other areas, too.

The starting point and highlight of the landscape design was Wörlitz. This was where the first English-style landscape garden on Continental Europe was created in 1765 and where Wörlitz Palace was built between 1769 and 1773, which is considered the first building of German Classicism. The culture and history of the Enlightenment can be experienced here as if in a time capsule. A particularly spectacular monument is the “Stein” Stone Island, Europe’s only artificial volcano (which is even active from time to time). With its caves, classical theatre and the Villa Hamilton, it depicts Prince Franz’s memories of his journey to the Gulf of Naples.

In addition to Wörlitz Palace and Wörlitzer Park, the other palaces and parks are also well worth a visit. Known affectionately as the “Small Sanssouci”, the Rococo Mosigkau Palace and Park offers an exquisite painting collection of Flemish and Dutch Masters. Oranienbaum Palace, Park and town is a baroque installation built on a geometric layout, and a rare example of an ensemble of mainly Dutch character in Germany. The English-style landscape garden and superb Luisium Palace, which the Prince commissioned in Dessau from 1774 to 1778 for his wife Louise, is one of the most idyllic locations in the Garden Kingdom. The Georgium in Dessau is named after Prince Johann Georg (1748–1811), the younger brother of Prince Franz, and today houses the Anhalt Picture Gallery. Its park is designed along the same lines as the one in Wörlitz.

The Garden Kingdom of Dessau-Wörlitz became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000. According to the UNESCO World Heritage Committee: “The Garden Kingdom of Dessau-Wörlitz is an outstanding example of the application of the philosophical principles of the Age of the Enlightenment to the design of a landscape that integrates art, education, and economy in a harmonious whole.”