Muskauer Park, Bad Muskau, Germany
I don’t imagine I’ll ever doing anything quite as grand as a travel writer. I wouldn’t have the resources – let alone the commitment or the vision.
In the early part of the 19th century, there was a travel writer who had all of that, though. He had a flamboyant-sounding name – Prince Hermann von Pückler-Muskau – and as well as being a global explorer, he was also a landscape gardener. He had a dream to combine these two passions and build a grand park in his homeland of Germany. In Muskauer Park, he realised his ambition.
The first thing you need to know about it is that it’s huge. The park is about 830 hectares and there are roads that lead to different parts. At its core is a design based on traditional English landscaping at its core – but the expansive space provided the opportunity to incorporate features from other European styles as well. It was laid out between 1815 and 1845 and includes a manmade canal, a glasshouse, a hillside park and small beautiful bridges.
As you explore it (for hours in my case), you realise that each section has a unique feel. You go from the dense forest areas in the hills to the lakeside serenity closer to the site’s main building, New Palace. The various parts of the park are connected with sweeping vistas and paths that wind through the landscaping. This is one of the key features of the way it has been designed – it’s as much about the views as the environment that directly surrounds you.
Changes and extensions have been made to the area since the first design but always within the original visions of Prince Hermann von Pückler-Muskau. He was the architect in a literal sense but also in a more general thematic way – and that has always been respected over the years.
Visiting Muskauer Park
Muskauer Park straddles the border of Germany and Poland with large parts of the garden in both countries. It’s a testament to cross-country cooperation that there is a smooth synergy between both sides and, if it wasn’t for the river as the border, it would be hard to know where one ends and the other starts.
I approached it from the German side, which has the main buildings in it. As you cross the river, signs on each side have the colours of Germany or Poland. It takes me several hours to walk around the route that I’ve chosen – and there’s still a lot more I could have seen.
As I’ve said, the park is large and it would probably take all day to properly walk through it all. Bicycle is an excellent way to explore the furthest parts or a horse-drawn carriage is a more luxurious option. It is, though, easy enough to explore enough by yourself to see a variety of areas in a morning or afternoon.