Muskau Park - World Heritage Site
Fürst-Pückler-Park Bad Muskau (German: Muskau Park, Polish: Park Mużakowski) is a transnational landscape park in the Upper Lusatia region of Germany and Poland. It is situated in the Free State of Saxony in Germany and the Lubusz Voivodeship in Poland.
There was a fortress on the river Neisse at Muskau was first mentioned as early as the 13th century under the rule of Margrave Henry III of Meissen. The Muskau Park was established in the first half of the 19th century. The founder of the park and the author of its conception was Prince Hermann von Pückler-Muskau – a Prussian aristocrat and the owner of local estates.
After studies in England, where he delighted with English gardening, he decided to set up a park in his estate in Muskau. He established an international school of landscape management in Bad Muskau and outlined the construction of an extensive landscape park.
The works involved remodelling the Baroque "Old Castle" and the construction of a Gothic Revival chapel, an English cottage, several bridges, and an orangery designed by Friedrich Ludwig Persius. Pückler reconstructed the medieval fortress as the "New Castle", the compositional centre of the park, with a network of paths radiating from it and a pleasure ground. The works went on until 1845 when Pückler because of his enormous debts was constrained to sell the patrimony. The Muskau was acquired by Prince Frederick of the Netherlands, who employed Eduard Petzold, Pückler's disciple and a well-known landscape gardener, to complete his design. In 1881, the palace and landscape park were bought by the Arnim family.
During the WWII, both castles and all bridges across the Neisse were destroyed and Count von Arnim-Muskau was dispossessed. In 1945, the park has been divided by the state border between Poland and Germany, with two-thirds of it on the Polish side.
Not until the 1960s the Old Castle was rebuilt by the East German administration. After the fall of communism in Poland and East Germany in 1989, the German and Polish administration joined forces in the redevelopment of the park ensemble. Since Poland entered the Schengen Area in 2007, visitors may freely explore both parts of the park without border checks. The New Castle was reconstructed and was finally opened to the public in 2008. The Englische Brücke ("English Bridge") across the River Neisse has been repaired and was rededicated on 17 October 2011.
Today the Polish-German border runs through the Muskau Park along the Lusatian Neisse riverbed. The territory of the park, which encompasses the total area of almost 700 ha, is divided asymmetrically by the river between the German town Bad Muskau (Saxony, Germany) and the Polish town Łęknica (Lubuskie Voivodeship). On the German side there is the central part of the site with main buildings, gardens and the pleasure ground (around 1/3 of the historic composition), and on the Polish side, there is an extensive naturalistic park (around 500 ha). Both parts are connected by two park bridges: the Double Bridge and the English Bridge.
Muskau Park, in which the composition plan of an English landscape park was implemented, is one of the most extensive historic park sites in Europe and one of the most outstanding achievements of the European art of gardening.
Embedded in the picturesque scenery of the Neisse valley, the Muskau Park is a specific combination of nature and the art of gardening. It is a precisely and carefully thought-out composition, which puts natural and cultural elements together.
On July 2, 2004, UNESCO added the park to its World Heritage List, as an exemplary example of cross-border cultural collaboration between Poland and Germany. The park also stands as one of Poland's official Historic Monuments (Polish: Pomnik Historii), as designated May 1, 2004, and tracked by the National Heritage Board of Poland.
Its redevelopment is a mutual Polish-German project. The Polish part of the Park is managed by the National Institute of Heritage in Warsaw, and the German part by the Fürst-Pückler-Park Bad Muskau Foundation based in the Orangery located in the park. The entrance to the park is free and you can visit it on foot, by bike, by carriage, or by canoe. The best way of discovering the extensive landscaped gardens is cycling. Bikes are available for hire in the estate farm buildings in the German part of the Muskau Park and also in the car parking place in the Polish part of the Park.
The surroundings of the Park in Bad Muskau are very interesting to explore. You should also visit Muskau Arch to see an amazing and very picturesque post-industrial landscape (learn more at: Muskau Arch - UNESCO Global Geopark).
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