The rulers of the times of enlightened absolutism, monarchs and princes of other historical eras, as well as simply large landowners left behind many different architectural sights in Germany. Some of them do not fit into the framework of the usual ideas about palace architecture and landscape gardening art, causing surprise and admiration. Among them is this picturesque 35-meter bridge Rakotzbrücke (Rakotzbrücke), nicknamed Devil’s or Devil’s.
The Rakotzbrücke Bridge was built of basalt about a century and a half ago in the Kromlau Azalea and Rhododendron Park in the Upper Lusatia region on the border with Poland. The German name for Lake Rakotzsee uses the word from the Upper Lusatian language – “Rakotz” (cancer). The length of the Cancer Lake is about three hundred meters, the width is from thirty to fifty meters. The bridge is in the middle. Not far from it is a stone “Organ” made of basalt pillars.
We will continue our acquaintance with various curiosities and quirks in the Wilhelmshöhe Mountain Park in Kassel, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which also has its own Devil’s Bridge, but it is not the main one here.
Wilhelmshöhe park in Kassel
The cascade of fountains and waterfalls is a unique work of landscape gardening art, the technical basis of which consists of an ingenious system of reservoirs, ponds and channels – without the use of any pumps
The landgraves and electors of Hesse-Kassel were engaged in the creation of this landmark throughout the 18th century. As a result, cascades of fountains, an English landscape park and a classicist palace appeared here. At the highest point in the park Wilhelmshöhe a monument to Hercules was erected, created following the example of ancient sculptures and becoming the main symbol of Kassel.
The landscape kingdom of Dessau-Wörlitz
From Hesse we will go to Saxony-Anhalt – in The landscape kingdom of Dessau-Wörlitzalso included in the World Heritage List. The prince, who ruled in these places several centuries ago, was a very big lover of Italy and even ordered the creation of a working model of Vesuvius near his residence.
Unfortunately, traditional pyrotechnic performances will no longer be held here. The decision was made in 2020, as they jeopardized the safety of this unique historical object: cracks appeared in the structure after the eruptions. The pyrotechnics were replaced by a light show, without vibrations and emissions into the atmosphere.
In the residences of German kings and princes, of course, there were house Catholic or Protestant churches – right in the palaces or somewhere nearby. However, Wörlitz Park also has a synagogue built in the form of an ancient Roman temple. It was erected at the behest of Prince Leopold III Friedrich Franz (1740-1817) to demonstrate religious tolerance.
These pictures were taken in Schwetzingen, Baden-Württemberg, where in the park of the former residence of the rulers of the Electoral Hall there is a mosque built at the end of the 18th century under Elector Karl Theodor (1724-1799). It was not intended for religious ceremonies and was conceived solely as a symbol of openness to the world and religious tolerance. This is just a small corner of the park – vast and very diverse.
Ancient Egypt, of course, also interested the German nobility of past centuries. In a park created in Brandenburg Branice Hermann von Pückler-Muskau (1785-1871), there are two pyramids. Inside one of them, located in the middle of the lake, he is buried.
The count went down in history as the creator of another park – a World Heritage Site, which is located in Bad Muskau and is the largest English park in Central Europe.
We remain near the water, but we will move to Saxony. It has no access to the sea, but this is not a reason not to build a lighthouse here. This lighthouse is located on the Big Pond in the castle park Moritzburg. It was erected to imitate sea battles after Count Alexei Orlov, who was visiting here, impressed Elector Friedrich August I (1750-1827) with stories about the Battle of Chesma.
The Peacock Throne was commissioned by the Bavarian King Ludwig II in 1877 for the Moorish kiosk in the Linderhof castle park. Luxurious oriental style sofa upholstered in silk and decorated with three peacocks
Linderhof Castle is the only residence founded by the Bavarian monarch Ludwig II (1845-1886) that was completely built during his lifetime. It is located about 30 kilometers from Garmisch-Partenkirchen. In the park of the castle there is the so-called “Venus Grotto”, where this “fabulous king” loved to ride a boat and immerse himself in his dreams and fantasies.
Italy, Egypt, Turkey… Further – China. Chinese tea houses and various rooms with precious porcelain and silk wallpaper were especially fond of the German rulers in the Rococo era, when one of the popular stylistic devices was the use of motifs from medieval Chinese art – chinoiserie. This Chinese tea house built in Potsdam in Sanssouci Park for Frederick the Great.
To adequately see the sights of Potsdam, you need at least a week. But we will focus on only two examples. The first of them is the artificial “ancient” ruins of 1748, which the Prussian king Frederick the Great could admire while walking around his beloved Sanssouci Palace.
Prussian monarchs generally loved antiquity. The Roman baths were erected in Sanssouci Park by order of Frederick William IV (1795-1861), when he was still Crown Prince. The project was prepared by the famous architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel based on the sketches of the heir to the throne, who loved Italy very much and had great artistic talent.
Peacocks in themselves are, of course, not a special attraction, which cannot be said about the whole peacock islandlocated on the Wannsee lake between Potsdam and Berlin. The history of the castle on this island is closely connected with the name of Countess Wilhelmina Liechtenau, the mistress of King Frederick William II (1744-1797).