Landgraves' Garden Landscape

The Landgraves' garden landscape stretches like "pearls on a string" along Tannenwaldallee and its equally dead straight extension, Elisabethenschneise. The axis runs for about eight kilometers from the Castle Park up into the Taunus to the Limes Roman boundary. The "Landgräfliche Gartenlandschaft Bad Homburg v. d. Höhe" – the official name of the gardens – is an ensemble that is the only one of its kind in Germany. Two generations of Landgraves started designing it from 1770 onwards. The gardens fell into neglect in the second half of the 20th century, grew wild and, in some places, were even built on. Their importance was, however, realized several years ago, and since then efforts are being made to restore them as much as possible.

The Forstgarten - the forest garden - has already been returned to its former beauty, while large sections of the Kleiner Tannenwald - the small pine forest - have meanwhile been restored. Both parks offer visitors a wonderful, romantic atmosphere surrounded by small lakes. The basic layout of the Hirschgarten - the deer garden - with its deer park and excellent restaurant - remained largely untouched over time. The same is true of English-style Gustavsgarten, to which the town of Bad Homburg only regained title in 2010. The restoration of further parks to reflect the art of English landscaping, and of the forest parks, is either in process or in planning. On-site information boards explain the importance of the Landgraves' Gardens and of the individual gardens themselves.

The Castle Park

In 1770, Landgrave Friedrich V Ludwig and his wife Caroline, a member of the Darmstadt dynasty, started the project that is nowadays called "Landgräfliche Gartenlandschaft Bad Homburg" – the Landgraves' Gardens of Bad Homburg. First they transformed the formally designed grounds at the southwestern foot of the castle hill into an English landscape park: Romantic paths leading through picturesque groves to the "large lake", which was given curved banks, and to concealed attractions. The Baroque garden between Löwengasse and the Royal Wing remained unchanged.

Their son, Landgrave Friedrich VI Joseph, and his wife, the English Princess Elisabeth, made only a few minor improvements, which included two Lebanese cedars that were planted in front of the portal leading to the Royal Wing. They had been a wedding gift to Elisabeth from her brother George. They have meanwhile grown into magnificent trees.

Tannenwaldallee and Elisabethenschneise

In 1770, Friedrich V Ludwig and Caroline commissioned the laying of Tannenwaldallee from "Weisser Tor", the white gate of the castle park, which is now on Hindenburgring. It leads in a perfectly straight line 2.2 km toward the Taunus. Back then, it was lined with poplar trees. These trees projected skyward like exclamation marks; in those days they were Arcadian symbols, but also reflected the Enlightenment philosophy of freedom and tolerance. Poplars have again been planted along a stretch of the Allee, near Gothic House. One of the round bricked bridge arches is still visible from the "Weisse Brücke", the white bridge close to the castle gardens. The bridge, which was renamed Carolinenbrücke in 1820, crossed the Lohrbach, which ran into the English Garden, and "Schlockerfass", the sunken road that ran alongside it.

Friedrich VI Joseph and Elizabeth commissioned an extension of Tannenwaldallee in 1921. Elisabethenschneise, which is just as straight, stretches from Gothic House, which was built in 1823, over a distance of 5.4 kilometers up to the Roman Limes boundary. It is bordered by the individual forest parks of the Grosser Tannenwald – the large pine forest.

The English Garden

The area, which was one of the six "Princes' Gardens" belonged to the Prince who later became Landgrave Friedrich VI Joseph, although it was actually designed by his wife Elizabeth. From 1820 onwards, the passionate gardener implemented everything she had learned about gardening in the gardens of her father, the King, in her home country of England. Huge lawns were planted, groups of trees slowly grew, the flower beds along the paths bloomed in a plethora of colors, and leafy paths and avenues provided shade. Rare plants, wine, vegetables and exotic fruits flourished in three greenhouses.

After 1866, the English Garden became private property and changed owners several times over. It was developed from 1958 onwards. All that remains is the Landgraves' Monument on the path through the residential estate, which was donated in 1871 by Marie Blanc, the wife of casino founder François Blanc.

Louisgarten

There are no historic plans of the garden of Prince Ludwig Wilhelm, called Louis. As governor of the Luxembourg Fortress, Louis only came to Homburg on rare occasions. Only one decorative element is well-known: the Pompeii well. Ludwig, who became Landgrave in 1829, had it made in 1836 to a sketch he drew during a trip to the buried city in Italy. It was not possible to preserve the Pompeii well; a replica is located in the lower courtyard at the castle.

A cold water sanatorium was built in Louisgarten in the mid-19th century, as Homburg's international reputation as a spa grew. The land was almost completely developed from 1978 onwards.

Gustavsgarten

Nowadays it is only possible to glance through the gate leading to Gustavsgarten, which is named after the third-youngest brother of Friedrich VI Joseph. Plans do, however, exist to restore this English-style park, of which many features still exist. It bears not only the stamp of Gustav, but also, and above all, of his wife, Louise Friederike, who grew up in the rich park landscape of Wörlitz as a Princess of the Anhalt-Dessau dynasty.

The magnificent villa that was built by the Frankfurt banker Wertheimber, a subsequent owner of the garden, in 1898, was one of the settings for the German television series "Geld Macht Liebe".

Ferdinandsgarten

Ferdinand, the youngest Prince, loved the forest and hunting, which is he why he let a pine forest grown on the nine morgens of land that his brother Friedrich VI Joseph gave him for his 40th birthday in 1823. 27,000 spruce seedlings were planted, and 65 pounds of spruce seeds sown.

After the death in 1866 of Ferdinand, the last Landgrave, the court gardener Merle purchase the land, cut down the spruces, built a café restaurant that no longer exists and, in 1891, opened a tree nursery. It still exists to this day and is owned by Merle's descendants.

Kleiner Tannenwald – the small pine forest

The jewel in the "Landgraves' Garden Landscape", most of which has now been restored! The Kleiner Tannenwald existed back in the 17th century but only assumed the form that is still visible today under Landgrave Friedrich V Ludwig and his wife Caroline, from 1772 onwards.  They opted for the Anglo-Chinois style that was modern at the time: The result was the oval foyer, the lake with island colonnade that was accessible by bridge, leafy avenues and labyrinthine paths that ended in "green groves" with solitary trees, a grotto, an ice house, or a rose temple.

From 1822 onwards, the "English Landgrave" Elizabeth added further attractions: She primarily set up a small model of an English farm with a cottage and a dairy farm. These buildings are now derelict but will be restored or rebuilt to the original historic plans.

Philippsgarten

Philipp was given his "Princes' Garden" in 1823, but did not take much care of it. He lived in Vienna, the home of his wife, who was deemed to be below his station by the residents of the Homburg Castle, and did not return to Homburg until 1839, when he acceded to the Landgraves' Throne.  Philippsgarten has been agriculturally cultivated for decades. It is planned for redesign – as "Neuer Philippspark" – and will feature current elements of landscaping architecture.

Grosser Tannenwald – the large pine forest

Grosser Tannenwald is the generic name for all of the individual parks along Elisabethenschneise, which the Landgraves designed as forest parks from 1771 onwards. The naturally unspoilt areas contrast with the intensely designed gardens. They also reflect, however, the aesthetic ideals of English landscaping and the philosophy of Enlightenment.

Grosser Tannenwald, which stretches as far as the Limes, begins at Gothic House, which Friedrich VI Joseph and Elizabeth had built from 1823 onwards as a hunting lodge in the style of the "Gothic revival". Nowadays, Gothic House is home to the town museum, the town archives, and a café.

Lustwald "Die Grosse Tanne"

This individual park, named after a large pine tree, forms part of Grosser Tannenwald and is situated right behind Gothic House. It was created between 1771 and 1773. Friedrich V Ludwig and Caroline designed it, complete with hunting lodge, lakes and water cascade, the remains of which can still be recognized, a hermitage, and several other features. They enjoyed retiring to their forest to recover from the constraints of court protocol.

The restoration of the Lustwald (forest of delight) is still in the nursery stages. The Landgraves' Column (replica) at "Rond Point" and the Horse's Grave are well worth seeing. This is where Friedrich V Ludwig laid to rest his beloved trusty steed Magyar in 1773.

Buschwiesen and Forellenteich (bush meadows and trout pond)

On leaving "Die Grosse Tanne", you come to a wide open area of grass in front of the "Grosser Busch" forest. It is partially used for barbecues, but forms part of the "Landgraves' Garden Landscape". Friedrich V Ludwig created an interplay of light and shade on it.

On the other side of the Buschwiesen, the Landgrave combined beauty with expedience. He had a trout pond built in two parts, which supplied the fish for the castle kitchen. One of the parts has been drained, the other is used by a fishing club.

Forstgarten

The "Forest Garden" has already been restored to its historic glory. Of all the "Landgraves' Garden Landscape", it is an outstanding example of the philosophy of combining expedience with beauty. From 1821 onwards, Friedrich VI Joseph and Elizabeth turned it into an idyllic landscape – for example, the lake with its small tea house – that was also put to practical use as a plant nursery.

The Landgraves cultivated exotic plants in the "Kämpen" and tested their suitability for the central European climate before planting them in the castle park or the Landgraves' Garden Landscape. Forstgarten was also used as a nursery for indigenous trees.

Hirschgarten

Hirschgarten (deer garden) is one of the elements of the "Landgraves' Garden Landscape of Bad Homburg" that is largely preserved in its original state. It can trace its history back to Landgrave Friedrich II with the silver leg, who used the area as far back as the end of the 17th century as his hunting grounds. Hirschgarten got its actual design, however, from Landgrave Friedrich VI Joseph in 1822.
When the Blanc brothers – who founded the Homburg casino – rented the garden, they set up the first inn for guests in 1858 in the Pürschhäuschen. The former hunting grounds of the nobles who made up court society evolved into a pure wild animal park and became a popular destination for residents and spa guests of the town. The Hirschgarten was sized down as a result, and now measures just one-fifth of its original size.

Elisabethenschneise landscape park

The forest park stretching up to the Limes was left by the Landgraves more or less in its natural state as a conscious contrast to the intensely designed gardens. They did, however, enhance its beauty with structural elements scattered around the forest, which were chanced upon more by accident by ramblers. These include an obelisk, the two Adelheid stones, and the Leopold and Landgraves' bridges.

The Landgraves also incorporated Celtic, Germanic and Roman relics in their concept, together with natural features, such as the Goldgrubenfelsen (gold mine rock), the Elisabeth stone, the Luther oak or the "Krausbäumchen", a beech tree that grew in an odd shape.