Realm Saxony, Germany
Start: Wörlitz Park
End: Wörlitz Park
Surface: Grass, Garden Paths
The Garden Realm of Dessau-Wörlitz is one of Europe’s finest examples of eighteenth-century “Age of Enlightenment” English-style landscape design. More than just a garden, it spreads across its 55-square-mile (143-sq-km) floodplain near the confluence of the Elbe and Mulde rivers like a vast, green mosaic in the midst of the historic principality of An halt-Dessau. It is a naturalistic landscape deliberately at odds with the common Baroque formality of the time, created at the behest of Duke Leopold Ill who had recently returned from a Grand Tour of Europe.
Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000, the landscape comprises many parks, palaces, and gardens laid out between i 764 and 1800, and using the waters of the Elbe to give it life. It is the venue for a perfect day’s walking, or even two. At its core are its historic gardens with their associated palaces, buildings, and sculptures, but add to that a playground of bridges, watchtowers, and statuary, complemented by ornamental plantings set around fields, meadows, and orchards. One of its most beautiful buildings is the Schloss Luisium, the neoclassical home of Princess Louise of Anhalt-Dessau, with its tiny but functional rooms, set in its own 35-acre (14-ha) garden filled with statues, gatehouses, and a ruined arch.