PALACE AND GARDEN OF ORANIENBAUM
Oranienbaum - A little piece of Holland
Oranienbaum is a geometrical ensemble integrating town, palace and park and at the same time a rare example of a mainly Dutch-inspired baroque garden in Germany.
The architect Cornelis Ryckwaert, who like his patron Princess Henriette Catharina of Orange-Nassau (1637-1708) was of Dutch origin, began the construction of the palace in 1683. Involved in the project was also the re-design of the town following a baroque layout and the creation of the Dutch-inspired palace gardens. To start with, there was only a palais with accompanying cavaliers’ pavilions, but from 1693 the whole ensemble was converted and extended as a dowager’s residence. The rich interior decoration consisting of precious leather tapestries, faiences and paintings gave the house its splendour, which can still be witnessed in rooms like the »Fliesenkeller« (lit. tiled cellar – serving as a summer dining hall) and the Tea Room. The latter has been comprehensively restored and re-opened in all its splendour on 7 July 2007.
After the death of the Princess the house was only occasionally used – as a hunting lodge – by her son Leopold I. Prince of Anhalt-Dessau and his son Dietrich. Only the following generation in the shape of Prince Franz of Anhalt-Dessau took care of palace and gardens again. Starting in the 1780s, he re-decorated a number of rooms in the palace in the Chinoise style and also included the baroque gardens in his project to embellish the country. At the southern fringe of the garden he built, from 1812 onwards, one of the longest orangeries in Europe, which has since continuously been used to store the rich collection of citrus plants at Oranienbaum.
The former baroque island garden was transformed into a single 18th century Anglo-Chinoise garden which survives in large parts. It is an important element in the style variety of the Garden Kingdom. A Pagoda, a Tea House and several arched bridges accentuate this part of the garden.
Here one can study Sir William Chambers’ theories on gardening for his designs in England served as a model for Oranienbaum. This area of the garden with its small sections mediates between the axial structure of the baroque garden and the countryside that surrounds it, while at the same time demonstrating the opposing views of garden design.
Some more years will pass until the restoration of the palace is finished. Nevertheless, visitors can already see most of the rooms in the corps de logis and in some cases even participate in the restoration process.