Kurpark

Bad Homburg is home to one of Germany's largest and loveliest spa parks. And it is classified as a listed site of historic interest: Because François Blanc, who founded the casino,  wanted to create something very special and therefore commissioned Peter Joseph Lenné, the Royal Prussian Garden Director-General who had already become a legend while still alive, to landscape the park. Because it has been lovingly cared for and tended for more than 150 years. Because it is the only park outside the area of Berlin and Potsdam that was designed by Lenné that is still largely in its original state.

The Kurpark covers an area of nearly 40 hectares and is designed as an English landscape park, with spacious lawns and solitary trees, dense groups of bushes, avenues, curving paths, and a small lake. 136 species of bush and 82 types of tree, most of which actually date back to the time of the park's creation, turn a walk into a vivid botanical experience. Historic buildings and monuments were carefully added over the course of time and bear witness to the history of this former world-class spa, such as the "Brunnensälchen" which again houses the casino these days, Kaiser-Wilhelms-Bad, the Orangerie, or the two Siamese temples.

The English Landscaped Garden

A new type of landscaping architecture evolved at the start of the 18th century in England. It was, admittedly, not the sign of a new fashion, but rather the reflection of a new liberal view of the world that aimed to counter the rigid shapes of absolutism; it was the age of Enlightenment. The idea of freedom extended across all sorts of aspects of daily life, including the attitude towards nature and scenery.

The liberal major landowners in England created landscapes that looked natural, in opposition to the geometrically-formal gardens of absolutism with their pruned trees, precise borders and straightened channels.

The new style was introduced in Germany in 1770, and established itself around 1800. This development was, however, not prompted by political-ideological motives, but by the glorification of nature during the Enlightenment and by enthusiasm for the ideas of Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Peter Joseph Lenné is regarded as one of the most outstanding champions of the English landscaped garden.

Peter Joseph Lenné

Peter Joseph Lenné

His peers gave him the rather disrespectful sobriquet of "Peter the Digger" – in reference to the extensive amount of work performed by the extraordinarily gifted landscape architect Peter Joseph Lenné (1789-1866), who also proved to have organizational talent.  Lenné, who came from an old family of horticulturists in Brühl, was employed by the Royal Prussian Court in 1816. He was promoted to director in 1824, and became Garden Director-General in 1854. He also accepted commissions outside Potsdam.

His main works include the parks in Sanssoucis, the Pfaueninsel (peacock island), the castle gardens at Charlottenhof, and the Berlin zoo. He created a large number of public and private parks in Berlin and Potsdam, including "Volkparks" (public parks) in Leipzig, Dresden, Lübeck, Cologne, Munich and Vienna. Lenné first came to Homburg v.d.Höhe in 1852.

The "heart" of the Kurpark

The small park created behind the Kurhaus by Maximilian Friedrich Weyhe in 1843 was separated from the area where the springs were located by a meadow plain with a cheerfully rippling stream. In 1852, this meadow plain was slated for landscape development to meet the needs of the growing number of spa guests. The commission was awarded to Peter Joseph Lenné. He came to Homburg several times, and, by 1854 already, the "heart" of the new Kurpark was finished, the section between the Promenade, what is now Schwedenpfad, Paul-Ehrlich-Weg and Kisseleffstrasse. Lenné had commissioned his close employee Gustav Meyer and Homburg-based land measurer Steinhäuser to execute his plans.

Lenné created axes of vision ("Blickachsen") in keeping with the English style of garden landscaping. He created the principal visual link using a fountain on the Promenade. It guided the eye from the Kurhaus terrace across the Kurhaus garden to the Hardtwald slopes on the other side of town. In 1876, English spa guests set up the very first tennis courts on the continent in the northeastern part of the park.

Germany's oldest golf course

Germany's oldest golf course

The origins of golf's popularity in Germany date back to the days when Kings, Emperors and Czars discovered the joys of summer in the town on the edge of the Taunus. It was the English who first started teeing off in the Homburg park landscape in 1880, using hickory clubs to drive their "featheries" (hand-stitched leather balls filled with goose feathers). In 1889, the golf-enthusiastic English military built Germany's first golf course and picturesque clubhouse right in the middle of the Kurpark under the watchful eye of Edward VII, who was then Prince of Wales, and later became King of England and Emperor of India in 1901 (and was incidentally an uncle of Kaiser Wilhelm II). He came, together with his court, to take the waters at Bad Homburg a total of 32 times.  Thus Bad Homburg became the "Home of Golf in Germany".

It was here, on the "Old Course", that the first ever golf tournament took place on German soil, in 1891. The contestants were predominantly members of the English nobility and high-ranking militaries. It took a further 8 years for the club to officially be registered in 1899. Its first President was His Royal Highness, the Duke of Cambridge. Bad Homburg quickly became famous for its tournaments. 1905 marked the founding of the Homburg Gold Cups, which golf enthusiasts still compete for to this day, and which are the oldest golf tournament trophies in Germany.

Homburger Golf Club 1899 e. V.Homburger Golf Club 1899 e. V.
Kaiser-Friedrich-Promenade 84
61348 Bad Homburg v. d. Höhe
Tel.: +49 6172 - 24561
Fax: +49 6172 - 662890

www.homburger-gc.de
Map

The spring area

In 1857, Peter Joseph Lenné was commissioned to design the spring area. In light of the prevailing conditions – Brunnenallee and the Orangerie already existed at one end, and the Brunnensälchen at the other – the landscaping artist was somewhat limited in his efforts to create the impression of a natural, idyllic landscape. Smaller-scale lawns and a more dense network of paths were created to the north of the Allee. An open pump room and a palm tree shelter were built opposite the Orangerie, behind Elisabethenbrunnen. Lenné's concept constituted two axes, which was unusual for him: The second axis of vision runs from Elisabethenbrunnen across Brunnenallee towards the Taunus. Lenné had envisaged a building as the focal point at the intersection of the two axes. It was not built until 1914: the Thai Sala.

Lenné also incorporated the area to the south of Brunnenallee into his plans in 1857. When he died in 1866, his successor in Potsdam, Ferdinand Jühlke, was commissioned to complete the remaining work. Jühlke largely adhered to the ideas of the great garden architect. Only the outer areas at the Promenade and Kisseleffstrasse were landscaped; the inner area was left "wild". This is where Germany's first golf course was built, in 1889.

Siesmayer's "green thumb"

From 1881 onwards, the Siesmayer family of horticulturists from Bockenheim near Frankfurt spent nearly 50 years tending for the Homburg Kurpark. The family is well-known, for example, for the Palmengarten in Frankfurt and the Kurpark in Bad Nauheim. Heinrich Siesmayer was a student of Lenné and made every effort to preserve the legacy of the great idol, as did his son Heinrich after him. And they sensitively continued to implement Lenné's ideas.

For example, they designed the area in front of Kaiser-Wilhelms-Bad, which was inaugurated in 1890, and the Rosarium in front of the former whey house (Molkenanstalt), which they based on a design that Lenné had created for Schloss Charlottenhof. They designed Schmuckplatz on Kaiser-Friedrich-Promenade to Lenné's design in 1892: a hippodrome with flower beds, low bushes, and surrounded by dense trees. The monument in honor of the Emperor Friedrich was erected in the same year, the monument commemorating his wife Victoria, in 1902.

Casino - Brunnensälchen

Casino - Brunnensälchen

The Brunnensälchen was built on Brunnenallee in the Kurpark as far back as 1838/39 – and was the first building whose sole purpose was the social interaction of the spa guests. In 1841, French twins Louis and François Blanc opened the casino in the building. It was the casino – and the millions invested by the Blancs in the spa facilities – that helped Homburg to become a world-class spa.

Fyodor Dostoevsky was one of the famous guests. The Russian writer lost a fortune in Homburg, which inspired him to write his novel "The Gambler". By the time all German casinos were closed down in 1872 – the Homburg casino had long since moved to the Kurhaus – François Blanc had already set up the Casino in Monte Carlo, which is why the Bad Homburg Casino is regarded as the "Mother of Monte Carlo". It was reopened in the Brunnensälchen in 1949 and has meanwhile been extended several times over. The CasinoLounge has become a popular dance club in the region.

Kaiser-Wilhelms-Bad

Kaiser-Wilhelms-Bad

"Equipped with every modern comfort", yet still resembling a magical oriental world, is how the international press described it when the "New Bathhouse" was inaugurated in 1890. The noble and wealthy spa guests took their mud and mineral baths in the spa house – the ladies in the left wing, the gentlemen in the right wing, and the Emperor in his own personal bathing area. The building that is named after Wilhelm I with the magnificent rotunda as its entrance was built by Homburg architect Louis Jacobi in the Italian Renaissance style.

Kur- und Kongress-GmbH refurbished Kaiser-Wilhelms-Bad at the start of the new millennium, and it now houses the "Kur-Royal" Day Spa. The wide range of treatments offered in subtly luxurious surroundings combine wellness with preventive healthcare and regeneration.

The offices of Kur- und Kongress-GmbH are also housed in Kaiser-Wilhelms-Bad, as is a small, stylishly appointed library, which is used for civil wedding ceremonies on Saturdays. Couples can tie the knot for life here under the romantic motto "Weddings in the park".

Orangerie & Konzertmuschel

Orangerie & Konzertmuschel

The Orangerie has been the focal point of social life in Bad Homburg since the mid-19th century. Originally built in 1844 to provide protection in winter for the 40 orange trees which Elector Wilhelm von Hessen had given in pledge of his casino debts, it was soon being used by the spa guests as a place for drinking and strolling, for relaxation and alleviation of aches and pains. The Orangerie was architecturally modified by Homburg's master builder Louis Jacobi in 1908 – and is now being restored to his plans.
The extension built in the 1970s has already been torn down and the west wing, which was "concealed" behind it, is being restored. The next step will be to return the exterior of the east wing back to its former historic glory. The café and restaurant premises have already been refurbished and offer the perfect venue for resting awhile, or for social events. The Konzertmuschel, which was also built around 1970, is also being torn down and replaced with a revolving concert pavilion in the style of the early 20th century. "Historischer Kurpark Bad Homburg v. d. Höhe", the foundation overseeing the works, hopes to be able to complete the reconstruction of the Orangerie and the concert pavilion by 2012, which is the year that marks the 100th anniversary of the spa town being awarded the prefix "Bad".
The former pump room is also going to be rebuilt on the side facing Elisabethenbrunnen. It will be an open steel structure and aims to encourage visitors to stroll around or rest awhile on the benches or at the drinking fountain.

Former whey house

Former whey house

The style of the timbered house not far from the casino is reminiscent of Switzerland. And indeed, the house built in 1882 was actually inhabited by a Swiss herdsman and dairyman, who came up from Appenzell every year for the season in the spa's heyday.  He made the whey, which was believed to have healing powers, and served it to the spa guests. A barn was built close by for his animals.
The whey house featured a café right from the start, which was managed by the herdsman and whose rural, tranquil atmosphere proved to be very popular. To this day, the building is still used as a restaurant. The former whey house is now home to "Zum Römerbrunnen", a gourmet restaurant.  A historically-modeled Rosarium featuring a plethora of different species of rose was created a few years ago in front of the building.

www.roemerbrunnen.de
Map

Jubiläumspark

Jubiläumspark, to the west of the Kurpark, is a virtually seamless continuation of the landscaping design. The Homburg bourgeoisie dedicated it in 1913 to "their" Emperor Wilhelm II, who had done so much for their town, to mark the 25th anniversary of his accession to the throne. The Siesmayer firm of landscape architects from Frankfurt commenced work in the fall of the same year and completed the work the following spring. Although Philipp Siesmayer created a landscape park that was typical for the 1920s, he aligned it to the concept developed by Peter Joseph Lenné.

The citizens of Homburg also erected a memorial stone in honor of the Emperor, which was financed from donations and stands next to the playground. The original relief by Carl Stock has disappeared. It was replaced in 1982 by a work created by Bad Homburg sculptor Ortrud Krüger-Stohlmann.

Map

Blindengarten

The town of Bad Homburg only created the "smell and touch" garden in the northeastern part of the spring area in 1983. It is one of the first of its kind in Germany. The fountain in the middle, which is an acoustic point of orientation for the visually impaired, is surrounded by eight high beds. Their plants represent different themes, such as cooking herbs, healing herbs, roses, grasses, etc. Signs provide explanations in both Braille and "normal" writing. So the "Garden for the Blind" is also a small place of learning.

Kurparkpflegewerk – "maintenance instructions" for the Kurpark

The creators of the Bad Homburg Kurpark – from Peter Joseph Lenné to Ferdinand Jühlke right up to Heinrich and Philipp Siesmayer – all documented their work in writing and drawings. They form the basis for maintaining the heritage-protected landscaped park.

The "Kurparkpflegewerk" was created at the end of the 1980s and is continually updated. It documents the historic creation and development of the Kurpark, and lists the current inventory of all plants. The third section contains detailed instructions of which "maintenance" works have to be performed when and where.

Stiftung Historischer Kurpark Bad Homburg

"Stiftung Historischer Kurpark Bad Homburg v.d.Höhe" was founded under the patronage of Kur- und Kongress-GmbH to support the maintenance, care and improvement of the Kurpark and other parks in Bad Homburg. Based on the "Kurparkpflegewerk", the foundation plans future measures, organizes fund-raising campaigns, and also supports cultural events in the Kurpark.

The biggest project at present is the restoration of the Orangerie and its surroundings to the state they were in over 100 years ago. The Orangerie, to which extensions were added in the 1970s, is being restored and returned to its original state based on the plans by Homburg architect Louis Jacobi. The modern Konzertmuschel will be replaced by a music pavilion in the style of the early 20th century. The foundation hopes to be able to complete the works by 2012, which is the year that marks the 100th anniversary of the spa town being awarded the prefix "Bad".

The foundation also operates a tree sponsorship scheme. When old trees have to be replaced, larger solitary trees of about five meters in height can be planted in their place with the help of the sponsors, thus closing the gaps more quickly. And thirdly, the old flower boxes in various places are being replaced with high-quality plant boxes adorned with the Bad Homburg crest. These are also funded from donations.