Dear visitors to Wörlitz!

The small town of Wörlitz was once called the ,Venice of Anhalt'. Every year thousands of people are attracted to this place in their search of recreation, inspiration and education.

Wörlitz was first mentioned in an official record in the Middle Ages (1004). Some elements of the present Saint Petri church still remind of the time in which a place of worship being extraordinarily big for this settlement had been established in the Romanesque style (round arch southern portal with pillars, triumphal arch). Martin Luther, who had come from the nearby town of Wittenberg, preached here in

The pasture countryside had always played an important role as a hunting ground of Dessau's princes, and in the 17 th century a hunting lodge was established at the lakeside. Several half-timbered houses dating from the first half of the 18 th century have been preserved (Kirchgasse, Forstergasse, Erdmannsdorffstrak). The decision of Prince Franz von Anhalt-Dessau (1740--1817) to create extensive gardens after the English pattern turned the so far relatively insignificant town into a place of world concern. The Prince had got to know the scenic garden style in England and laid out after that pattern the whole little Land of Anhalt-bessau to form a ,garden world'. Wörlitz became the lay-out centre where the creations in the field of horticultural landscaping and architecture developed in an especially great variety. Prompted by the ideas of enlightenment to improve the conditions in the Land, Prince Franz and his architectural friend Friedrich Wilhelm von Erdmannsdorff (17361800) acquired inspirations on educational journeys through England, Holland, Italy, France and Switzerland.

If you are interested in getting a survey of the fascinating parks in the English fashion as quickly as possible, your are welcome to use a gondola for a trip on the waterways which is waiting for you near the historical ,Eichenkranz' inn (where the Prince accomodated many of his guests). The Wörlitz lake had been an important landscaping element in laying out the garden. Parts of the shores were artistically shaped and canals were layed out. The high waters of the Elbe river necessitated the construction of protective walls; in 1771 the wall broke in two places to the north of Wörlitz. The gardens formed until that time had been almost completely destroyed; the high water streamed almost up to Oranienbaum (Prinzenstein). At the breaches, two immense barings were caused: the Big and the Small Wall Hole. Specialists who hadbeen trained in Holland improved the Elbe dyke on the Prince's instruction, and henceforth it protected the gardens and the place of Wörlitz reliably. Already after several minutes of travelling by gondola, the whole extension of the Wörlitz Lake is first presented to the observer. But aiready soon afterwards, regularly arranged lime-tree alleys, which had been part of an old park in the surrounding of the hunting lodge, allow to look at the impressive pillar facade of the country house in the English style. This is where the first, English' horticultural works in the Schloßgarten were carried out and extended in the course of about four decates by Neumarks Garten, Schochs Garlen, Garten auf dem Weidenheger and by Neue Anlagen.

According to plans of Erdmannsdorff, the first building of German classicism, namely the English country house in Wörlitz, had been constructed from 1769 till 1773. The clear shapes outside and inside the building following the style of antiquity corresponded already to the middleclass taste signs of which existed aiready. A precious collection of paintings, sculptures, furniture and pieces of ceramic work from the time of origin are held in the building.

The garden scenery presents permanently new views - the synagogue becomes visible at the lakeside, and more far away the ,Stein' island grounds. The gondola glides Luther underneath bridges into the Small Wall Hole with the ,Monument' and the ,Venus temple'. Finally the famous ,Chain bridge' becomes visible and shortly afterwards the ,Flora temple'. Now the ,Gothic House' is reached, and the enchanting canal facade, which had been shaped after a Venetian church, opens up lo the observer. The ,Gothic House' contains, beside a remarkable collection of medieval paintings, a precious Swiss glass painting collection in ist windows.

Late in spring, the blooming azaleas and rhododer dron around the ,Gothic House' are especially splendid. When the Pose Island' is passed, the gondola is soon back at the landing-place.

The parks of Wörlitz are inviting for fascinating strolls which leave sometimes completely new impressions. So it is possible to experience the relations between the many views which crisscross the garden and combine the individual parts to form an integral whole. The visitor's eye is directed at picturesque sceneries, buildings as well as at areas of arable land which have already always been part of this works of art. And so it is not surprising that also a former princely estate had been included into the horticultural landscaping. Close to it the cemetry laid out by Prince Franz and the house of the attendant are to be found. Also the classical town hall and the market square border on the garden, however, no fences exist between the garden and the town as well as the surrounding.

Comprehensive offers for tourist services and subjectrelated educational possibilities are available in Wörlitz.

U. Quilitzsch