Muskauer Park / Park Mużakowski

Muskauer Park was the forerunner for new approaches to landscape design in cities, and influenced the development of landscape architecture as a discipline.

The site is the core zone of an extensive landscape park laid out by a leading European personality of the mid-19th century, Prince Hermann von Pückler-Muskau, around the New Castle of Muskauer on either side of the River Neisse, the border between Poland and Germany. The entire park extended around the town of Muskau and out into the surrounding farmed landscape. The area covers a total of 559.90 ha. Of this, 348 ha are within Poland and 211.90 ha within Germany. The park forms the starting point for an entirely different approach to the relationship between man and landscape. The design does not evoke classical landscapes or paradise, or provide enlightenment to some lost perfection, instead it is 'painting with plants', enhancing the inherent qualities of the existing landscape through embellishing its structures with trees, meadow and watercourses, to allow the landscape to merge with nature.

Pückler created an integrated landscape framework, extending into the town of Muskau. Green passages formed urban parks framing the areas for development, and the town becoming a design component in a utopian landscape. The structure of the Muskauer Park is focused on the New Castle, reconstructed by Pückler in the 1860s, according to the designs of the Prussian architect, Schinkel. A network of paths radiates out from the castle. Along them are 'culminating points' in the topography which create ideal viewpoints, each part of an intricately constructed network of wider interrelated views. The elements Pückler used were a combination of built and natural: bridges, watercourses, paths, ornamental buildings, woods, arboreta, scattered trees and the inherent geology of terraces, crags and the valley of the River Neisse. He wove all these into a visual picture of the highest aesthetic quality and one characterised by extraordinary simplicity and expansiveness. The landscape thus has a structure that can be appreciated for its aesthetic qualities. It also has strong intangible values - for the place it holds in the evolution of landscape design, and for its influence on what followed. The nominated site consists of a landscape conceived as a whole but which nevertheless can be perceived in several parts:

Prince Pückler inherited his family seat in 1811. Inspired by travels to England, he quickly began transforming the ancient estate into an expansive landscape park. Pückler 's first interventions were to raze the castle's fortifications and moats. He then began constructing an artificial watercourse through the Castle Park, which was expanded into the Castle Lake and completed in 1819. Over the next five years he remodelled the castle, turned the malt-house and orangery into a greenhouse, built two bridges, a Gothic chapel and an English-style cottage.

The construction of the Spa Park followed in 1823, and was completed by 1840. The smaller bridges across the river were built in 1826. After 1829, Pückler begun the transformation of Upper Mountain Park landscape and created a greenhouse at Castle Farm. Finally in 1844 the orangery was created out of the former brewery - just a year before Pückler was forced to sell the estate for financial reasons. Petzold continued Pückler's vision and in particular realized the concept of embracing the town by the park. He constructed many paths, further bridges, the Arboretum and the Lower Mountain Park, the Second World War was a radical turning point for the park. It was the site of the last decisive battle of the war. Two-thirds of the town buildings were destroyed as well as the two castles and all the bridges. After the war the Neisse became the border between Germany and Poland.

Historical context

Price Puckler inherited his family seat in 1811. Inspired by travels to England, he quickly began transforming the ancient estate into an expansive landscape park. The symbolic beginning of his creation was the publication of a letter to the inhabitants of Muskau in 1815 informing them of his intentions and inviting them to sell their land to him. By 1817, he had acquired about 5000 morgs, some 10ha.

Puckler's first interventions were to raze the Castle's fortifications and moats. He then began constructing an artificial watercourse through the Castle Park, which was expanded into the Castle Lake and completed in 1819. Over the next five years he remodelled the Castle, turned the malt-house and Orangey into a greenhouse, built two bridges, a Gothic chapel and an English-style cottage. The construction of the Spa Park followed in 1823, and was completed by 1840. The smaller bridges across the river were built in 1826. After 1829, Puckler begun the transformation of Upper Mountain Park landscape and created a greenhouse at Castle Farm. Finally in 1844 the Orangery was created out of the former brewery - just a year before Puckler was forced to sell the estate for financial reasons.

The estate was purchased by Wilhelm Friedrich Carl Prince of the Netherlands and he took on Puckler's student Eduard Petzold to manage the park. Petzold continued Puckler's vision and in particular realised the concept of embracing the town by the park. He constructed many paths, further bridges, the Arboretum and the Lower Mountain Park, (in the proposed Buffer Zone).

In 1878 Petzold resigned and the 1883 the park was sold to Traugott Hermann Count von Armin. Until World War II various modernising works were carried out, but the structure of the park was hardly changed.

World War II was a radical turning point for the park. It was the site of the last decisive battle of the war. Two thirds of the town buildings were destroyed as well as the two Castles and all the bridges. After the war the River Neisse became the border between Germany and Poland. The subsequent conservation history of the park is detailed below.

 

Justification for being a World Heritage Site

Criterion (i): Muskauer Park is an exceptional example of a European landscape park that broke new ground in terms of development towards an ideal made-made landscape.

Criterion (iv): Muskauer Park was the forerunner for new approaches to landscape design in cities, and influenced the development of ‘landscape architecture’ as a discipline.

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