The Garden Guide

Book: History of Garden Design and Gardening
Chapter: Chapter 3: European Gardens (500AD-1850)

Saxe-Weimar Park

Previous - Next

vii. Gardening as an Art of Design and Taste, in Saxe Weimar 349. 'The park of Saxe-Weimar,' says Granville, 'belongs to the Grand Duke of Weimar, and is of considerable extent. The gardens, arranged in the English style, are rich in parterres, &c, of flowers; in numerous and large shrubberies, intersected with pleasing and shaded walks, which are much frequented by the inhabitants; and in sylvan and woody parts, in which occur, with pleasing variety, opening glens, rocks, hills, and footpaths, winding through the extended scenery, leading to a number of striking points, where a cascade or a statue, a monument or a ruin, a grotto or a hermitage, arrests the attention of the pedestrian. On the borders of the park, and placed so as almost to form a part of, as well as a picturesque appendage to it, stands the summer cottage of Goethe, one of the last of the many heroes of literature, poets, philosophers, and historians, who, for more than fifty years, shed a lustre on the court of Weimar. There is in one part of the garden, surrounded by plantations pleasingly arranged, a very handsome building, called the Romischhaus, in the best style of architecture, fronted by an Ionic portico, and containing some beautiful arabesque paintings, and a portrait of the mother of the Grand Duchess, by Angelica Kauffmann. An excellent band of musicians assemble in some part of the park once a week; and I listened with great delight to their performances, which are of a very superior description. The whole establishment is kept in the highest order, and the principal walks in it are daily frequented by the fashionables after dinner; while many well-dressed, happy-looking, and merry-faced people of the industrious classes may be seen on a Sunday sauntering up and down its groves, wandering through the woods, or taking refreshment in front of the Schiesshaus, where formerly the men used to practise shooting and archery. To an observer placed in the centre of the valley of the Ilm, which forms a great portion of the park, the country residence of the hereditary Grand Duke, called the Belvedere, forms a most pleasing as well as a striking object. The intervening ground, planted in every possible variety, rises very gradually, until it forms the lofty terrace on which that building stands. The spot commands a magnificent view of the surrounding country. A royal residence thus situated does not need to borrow any adventitious interest from private pleasure-grounds, when Nature has embellished it on every side with such beautiful and picturesque scenery. The building itself does not call for much commendation. It is small, and rather in a baroque style of architecture. In each of the wings there is a wide and open gateway, which would give to the house the appearance of a large farm, did not the main body of the edifice, with its great flight of steps in front, its pilasters, and the surmounting cupola, forbid such an impression. The centre of the lawn opposite the house is occupied by a piece of water with a handsome fountain. The grounds are very tastefully laid out; and the orangery and hothouse for tropical plants are richly and prettily arranged. A good and broad road leads from Weimar to this agreeable summer residence of the ducal family. ' (Travels, &c, p. 218.)