Azalea and Rhododendron Park in Kromlau, Germany
Kromlau is a small and charming village located in the municipality of Gablenz, Germany, less than 6 kilometres from the Polish border. In Kromlau is one of the largest landscape parks in Saxony. The park lies in the Muskau Arch area (learn more at: Muskau Arch - UNESCO Global Geopark). The park is a beautiful example of an English garden and has many small ponds and lakes. The Azalea and Rhododendron Park in Kromlau was commissioned by Friedrich Herrmann Rötschke, the knight of Kromlau, in the middle of the 19th century.
The Rötschke's landscape park was created after location of Fürst-Pückler-Park in Muskau (lick learn more at: Muskau Park - World Heritage Site). The "little Pückler" spared a little bit of money. Rare woody plants, mythological and rococo statues, basalt caves as well as a bow bridge of stone blocks and basalt stone were design elements of his park. He also built the hunting lodge in the park and surrounded it with flower beds.
In April 1889 the park and the estate were bought by Friedrich XI. Leopold, Count of and to Egloffstein-Arklitten. The park has been kept in Rötschke's grounds but it has been enriched with the planting of rhododendrons and azaleas. Until the beginning of the 20th century the Kromlau' inhabitants lived mainly from the agriculture and forestry, later they found work in the mining industry or in the glass industry. In 1966, a pond from a former brown coal mine was transformed into a bathing pond. Today the district of Kromlau is a very popular excursion destination for tourists from near and far. During your visit in Kromlau you also need to see the beautiful Rhododendrons Gorge. There is also a Swiss-style Kavalierhaus (the hunting lodge) and a Kromlauer Schloss (Kromlau Mansion) from the 1860's.
What makes Azalea and Rhododendron Park so special is Rakotzbrücke (Rakotz Bridge). Commissioned in 1860 the thin arch stretching over the waters of the Rakotzsee (Rakotz Lake) is built out of varied stone, especially basalt. The bridge's artificially-formed basalt columns were specially shipped from distant quarries. The Rakotzbrücke is known as a “Devil’s Bridge,” due to the colloquialism that such bridges were so dangerous or miraculous that they must have been built by Satan. The bridge is decorated with thin basalt rocks spires. In addition, the parabola of the bridge is designed to be one-half of a perfect circle, so that when the waters are still and the light is right, it creates the illusion of a complete stone circle. Today, the bridge can still be viewed in the park, but crossing is prohibited in order to preserve it.
The park has no entry fee and can be accessed anytime. You must see also the artificial caves named "Heaven" (it was built from white limestone rocks) and "Hell" (it was built from black basalt rocks) and the Judge's Chair (it was built from basalt rocks).
The main parking area is conveniently located in the village of Kromlau. The Rakotzbrücke (Devil's Bridge) is a short walk from the free car parking area. The tourist information office is located in the Mansion.