Branitz Park near Cottbus represents the life’s work as well as the later work of the eccentric landscape gardener Hermann Prince von Pückler-Muskau (1785–1871) and is a masterpiece of the eccentric landscape gardener. Nothing remains to remind visitors that this ideal image of nature was built on what was once flat and barren farming land. Created from scratch with a gently sloping landscape featuring elegant watercourses and ponds and beautifully laid out woods, Branitz is a highlight in the history of the art of landscaped gardens. With good reason it is an internationally acclaimed monument to landscape gardening.
Shaped by the year’s of his life between the French Revolution and the founding of the German Empire, and inspired by his numerous extended trips to England and the Orient among other places, Prince Pückler created Branitz Park and the cultivated landscape as a reflection of his personality. The gardens were created beginning in 1846 when Pückler was forced to sell the lordship of Muskau with the park that was designated a UNESCO world heritage monument in 2004 and which represents his early work. Branitz Park is a work of garden art measuring more than 600 hectares that was masterfully landscaped using the zoning principle. The park thus features a concentration of creative and custodial work that gradually intensifies from the outer to the inner areas of the park where it is concentrated in the pleasure ground and the castle at the centre. The first stage of this zoning system is the outer Branitz park, the “ornamental farm”, with its skilfully landscaped meadows and fields featuring a mixture of woods along with the meadows, fields and pastures, and representing an ideal connection between the artistic garden and the agriculturally used areas. A drive leading through the park grounds functions as an “invisible guide“ connecting the various landscapes that have been skilfully laid out like beads on a chain. Today the Cottbus animal park and the Spree pastureland park are located inside the historic outer part of Branitz Park.
The inner park stand outs from the rest of the park through a more imaginative design, and here particularly with its more elaborately landscaped relief featuring artificial lakes with hedges highlighting the views that dominate the open spaces that have been created through the more extensive earth movements. Two unique earth pyramids are a special feature of Branitz and a reminiscence to Prince Pückler’s trip through the Orient from 1834 to 1840. Yet different from Egypt, Pückler did not build his pyramids from stone, but rather from heaped up earth which he then had planted. The larger of the two earth structures, the Tumulus that is located in the pyramid lake, has been the burial site of Hermann Fürst von Pückler-Muskau since 1871. In the year 1884 Pückler’s wife and life partner, Lucie Countess Pückler (1776–1854), was reburied to join him in the Tumulus. In an enchanting tour of the park with the Pückler gondola, visitors can come as close as possible to the royal couple. Additional highlights of the inner park are the castle nursery with its historic greenhouses, the park blacksmith’s workshop and the estate economy with the visitor’s centre and the multimedia exhibition.
Branitz Castle – The World of Prince Pückler
Visitors will only see original interior from the world and the era of Prince Pückler in Branitz Castle. While the library allows the visitors to familiarise themselves with his thinking, the Oriental rooms will take people on the great journey of the prince to the pyramids of Egypt. This is where the only existing portrait of the legendary Machbuba, the princess from the Cairo slave market, is on display. Along with other remarkable “souvenirs“ such as, for example, canopic jars. The intestines of the mummified dead were buried in these mythical funerary vessels. A special focus of attention is the original wallpaper that has been painted like Oriental carpets. The rooms of Pückler’s wife Lucie have also been restored according to original findings. The most magnificent room is the music chamber. This is where special events are held today. People can also get married in these royal surroundings. An English fortepiano that the prince bought and which Clara Schuhmann and Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy already played on can be seen as well as a gallery of ancestors in the vestibule. The paintings include works of art from the Saxon court painter Silvestre and from the Prussian court painter Pesne. A different kind of painting are the pictures from Carl Blechen (1798–1840). The Branitz collection of paintings by this renowned landscape artist is second only to the collection of the National Gallery.
Prince Pückler – A Colourful Personality of the 19th Century
Hermann Prince von Pückler-Muskau (1785–1871) was one of Europe’s greatest garden artists, a dandy, a womaniser, a successful travel book author, good company and an enthusiast of fancy food who gave his name for an ice cream.
Beginning with his park in his lordship of Muskau, he developed an internationally recognised ”trademark“ in designing English-style landscape gardens. After selling Muskau he transformed the ”desert“ of his old estate in Branitz into a ”masterpiece“. He also had an important function in the design of the park of the later Emperor Wilhelm I in Babelsberg. Pückler was in contact with leading figures from politics, science and society of his time. Through his lifestyle he also delivered Branitz out of its provincial existence. His extensive travels, which took him all the way to the Orient and to England, shaped his cosmopolitan character which shows in his work in a variety of ways. Pückler had a great ability of moving about in all circles with great ease, whether in parlours, the newspapers or during his courtship when he drove a harnessed team of stags along a main highway in Berlin. His chosen one was Lucie von Hardenberg, a relationship that even endured a formal divorce.
He enacted his death through a burial in the lakeside pyramid of Branitz Park with a mighty final chord.
The Castle»... everything is different here from other , places, fantastic, surprising , magical ...«
This is how a contemporary of Prince Pückler described Branitz. The castle with its interior is the stage of this exhibition that depicts both the daily life of the prince as well as his spiritual horizon.»Carl Blechen. Paint Wizard. Painter of Light.«
The landscape artist Carl Blechen was a master of this art. Not least the rendition of excellent light and colour effects of nature made him one of the most significant artists of the 19th century. The life and work of this artist, who was born in Cottbus in 1798, are shown on the upper floor of the castle. Valuable permanent loans of the Federal Republic of Germany and new acquisitions supplement the “Cottbus Collection“ that focuses on the first half of the 20th century in the town where Blechen was born. All the major periods of the painter’s work are on display here.