Project 15: Fürst-Pückler-Park Bad Muskau

Gentled heritage

The Muskauer Park is Pückler’s biggest and most significant garden artwork: a landscaped park that extends around 830 hectares, on the left and right sides of the Neisse – in other words, part of it is on German soil, and part of it is in Poland. After extensive restoration work, the park and the castle can be experienced today in all their glory. UNESCO recognised the success of the project by elevating this German-Polish park to the status of »World Cultural Heritage Site.«


In 1815, Hermann Fürst von Pückler-Muskau was inspired to create the Muskauer Park in the idyllic valley landscape where the Neisse breaks through the hills of the Muskau Coal Crescent. He incorporated the existing woods and the Neisse into his park, had trees felled and lines of sight opened up, planted new trees, flooded some areas to create ponds and small seas, created islands, and built bridges. In the process, he got so deeply into debt that he ultimately had to sell his park. Since then, both the Schloss and the park have changed hands several times – and have also changed their shape somewhat.

After the Second World War, the Neisse, which flows through the middle of the park, became the new boundary between the GDR and the People’s Republic of Poland. Like Bad Muskau and several other cities on the Oder and the Neisse, the park was cut in two. On the Polish side of the river, factories were built and parts of the park were farmed or became overgrown. The Neues Schloss on the German side was gutted by fire shortly after the end of the war, and remained a ruin over the subsequent decades.

Since Germany’s reunification, many border bridges that were destroyed during or immediately after the war have been rebuilt. This gave the Fürst-Pückler-Park the chance for a new future. In 1992, the German part of the park was taken over by the Free State of Saxony, and it has since been controlled by a state-owned foundation. The then director of the Polish part of the park wanted the whole park to apply to UNESCO, and with this aim in mind the park and its buildings were steadily restored, preserving their historic appearance. The idea of reuniting a divided park brought people in both countries together – for instance, in 1998, young people from Germany and Poland (who had taken language courses specially) began to restore heavily overgrown parts of the Polish section to their original state, thereby restoring the original lines of sight over the Neisse.


The aim of this IBA project was to work together with partners on the German and Polish sides of the border to allow people to enjoy the park once again as a single work of garden art beyond the year 2000.

A binational application was made in July 2002 – and in 2004, the German-Polish Pückler-Park was finally included on UNESCO’s World Heritage list. Since 2004, the highly symbolic double bridge once more unites both halves of the park – and unites Germany with Poland. Once again, visitors can experience the whole park – especially since passport checks were made non-compulsory in 2007.

The Neues Schloss, which had for many years been left to decay, is now gradually being restored. In 2003, the Muskauer Schule, a training school for the tending of listed gardens and cultural landscapes, opened in its north wing. Since September 2008, a permanent exhibition entitled »Pückler! Pückler? Einfach nicht zu fassen!« (»Pückler! Pückler? Totally incomprehensible!«) has been on display on two levels of the south wing. After a fifty-year interruption, the Neues Schloss is once more open to the public. In the castle’s barbican, a cafe, a visitor information centre, and an exhibition provide the necessary infrastructure for a rising number of visitors.
The IBA supports the foundation’s work with student projects and public relations work.


Over the coming years, the Neues Schloss will be completely restored. On the Polish side of the border, some parts of the park are still waiting to be brought back to life, and there are plans to merge the German and Polish park authorities. What this means for the economic and urban development of Bad Muskau and Łęknica is that something of the park’s spirit of idealised nature will be transferred to the double city. Bad Muskau’s spa resort, revitalised bathing park – part of the Pückler-Park – and Kurhaus (spa house) are already valuable assets on the marketplace: in future, these will be developed for recreation, pleasure, and culture in a cross-border initiative centred on the park. Another important future goal is networking the park with the Pückler-Park in Cottbus-Branitz, about sixty kilometres away – and possibly incorporating other attractive park and castle estates in the region into the network as well to create a world-class cross-border garden route.


Go by car to Fürst-Pückler-Park Bad Muskau or by public transportation:

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last update: 1/26/2017 13:13