Łęknica - Park Mużakowski - a Type of Landscape Park, Łęknica
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Łęknica - Park Mużakowski - a Type of Landscape Park

Łęknica

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Muskauer Park (Park Mużakowski), founded by Prince Hermann von Pückler, represents one of the most exceptional achievements of European landscape architecture. The extensive landscaped grounds (covering over 700 hectares), an inimitable blend of nature and gardening artistry, straddle the Lusatian Neisse. The eccentric aristocrat, writer, theoretician and practitioner of landscape gardening fulfilled his dream by creating a park from 1815 to 1845 in the grounds of the residence he had inherited in Muskau. He designed its compositional layout himself, but further work on the project was done with the help of numerous advisors: Karl Friedrich Schinkel - who redesigned the residence and park buildings, August Schirmer - painter, John Adey Repton - an English architect, and Jacob Roeder - a gardener who directed the works carried out in the park.

The park is an outstanding example of a large-scale naturalistic landscape designed to incorporate natural and cultural components, from the town to the river and ponds, and the architectural décor. The natural features of the terrain - a valley widening at this point to 1.5 km with terraces (with a relative height of up to 60 m) rising on either side of the river - formed the core of the park. Pückler created an excellently thought-out composition - a picture gallery woven from the area’s natural features and existing qualities (its topography, old oak trees, natural lakes and watercourses) skilfully entwined with architectural features. To enhance the picturesque scenery an artificial tributary known as Hermann’s Neisse was added to the river. Buildings were raised at the terrace edges on either riverbank and a number of compositionally linked vistas were created. The park buildings blend into the landscape becoming part of the natural scenery. The extensive composition stretches as far as the horizon, whilst the swathe of trees visible against its backdrop forms a green perimeter encircling broad stretches of fields and meadows. The enchanting winding paths lead to vistas provided with stone benches from which to admire the expansive views looking out on selected compositional elements. At the centre of the park, where a Temple of Endurance was destined to be built, stands the Hilki Hill affording a panorama of the river and the Castle Meadow with the New and Old Castle. Further on is the Prince’s Bridge with its filigree sandstone balustrade. Progressing onwards to the Mausoleum leads to the highest terrace, offering a splendid view of the entire Nysa valley, though the river itself remains unseen. Descending from the terrace a delightfully romantic vista opens up before the visitor - Sara’s Path, winding through a deep gully punctuated with numerous footbridges across a stream, stone steps beautifully integrated with their surroundings, and the charming Arcaded Bridge.

This landscaping venture proved to be so costly that Pückler was forced to curtail any further work, declare bankruptcy and sell his beloved park. In 1846 the Muskau estate became the property of Prince Frederick of the Netherlands. Under his ownership further work on the park was overseen by Eduard Petzold, who created landscape parks in several European countries. In the late 19th century the estate passed to the von Arnim family, who protected the central part of the park by designating it a nature reserve. In 1945 most of the park buildings were destroyed during the course of wartime conflict. After World War II the Polish-German border divided the park in two. The western portion (206 hectares including the castle) lies on the German side, within the territories of Bad Muskau; the eastern part (522 hectares), on the Polish side, lies in the town of Łęknica. The two parts are linked by the Double Bridge over the Lusatian Neisse, where there is also a border crossing. A reassessment of the entire complex was undertaken after 1989. The effects of this work are readily visible today, and the park has been included on UNESCO’s World Heritage List as a transboundary property.

General information

  • Type: cultural landscape
  • Chronology: XIX w.
  • Form of protection: history monument
  • Address: Wybrzeżna 25, Łęknica
  • Location: Voivodeship lubuskie, district żarski, commune Łęknica
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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