Gothic House

Oranienbaum-Worlitz, Germany | C.1773

Photo Credit: Heinz Fräßdorf

Of all the kingdoms in Germany, the Dessau-Worlitz Garden Realm might be its most bucolic. One of the first of its kind in the country, the Garden Realm was created in the late 18th century after Prince Leopold III took a European tour with architect Friedrich Wilhelm von Erdmannsdorff. Influenced by The Enlightenment movement, Leopold and Erdmannsdorff sought to move away from a traditionally formal landscape and create a more natural setting for the Prince’s territory.

Around the time the Prince’s Worlitz Palace was completed, construction on the Gothic House began. Inspired by the 15th-century Madonna dell’Orto church in Venice and the Strawberry Hill house, the Gothic House blends German Classicism and Gothic Revival architectural styles. It was one of the first Neo-Gothic structures in the region.

Initially created to be a gardener’s apartment, the Gothic House transformed into a private residence and getaway for the Prince. Since the Worlitz Palace was open to the public, the Prince could retreat to the House to reflect, tend to his collections, and spend time with his second family. The House continued to expand for the next 40 years as additions were approved and built.

Prince Leopold stored his extensive collection of Old German and Dutch paintings, portraits, weapons, coins, and furniture in the House. Today, the Gothic House and surrounding buildings are open to the public as part of the Garden Realm — including remnants of Prince Leopold’s magnificent collection. In 2000, the Garden Realm was named a World UNESCO Heritage Site.

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