If you dream of living in a fairy-tale world, Thuringia is the place for you. The state boasts in excess of 2,000 parks and gardens – perfect spots for a stroll in the countryside with countless palaces standing regally in the background. With its wealth of tourist attractions, there are many reasons to visit this state. And there's an additional one in 2021, when the German National Garden Show, held in the state capital of Erfurt and many other places, will put on a firework display of blossoming highlights.
Where there's a fairy-tale palace, you will almost always find a beautiful park. Back in the day, it would be rare to find a prince living in a magnificent palace who didn't like strolling through an artistically designed park. So it's no wonder that Thuringia is not only home to a variety of spectacular noble estates, it is also a haven for garden lovers.
The 2021 German National Garden Show, which will be hosted in Erfurt and 25 other locations in Thuringia from 23 April to 10 October, is therefore just as attractive to fans of gardens as it is to anybody who likes palace tours. There will be so much to see and do during the German National Garden Show. The highlights include:
Egapark Erfurt: a flower show for all ages
Erfurt, the state capital of Thuringia, will take centre stage for the 2021 German National Garden Show. The city hosted the first ever international horticultural exhibition back in 1865. Now the major flower show is back and expected to be a mega-event. The main venue is egapark, a horticultural monument. It is a fitting location, as the first International Horticultural Show was held here back in 1961. The former monastery will become a massive park in bloom in 2021, with ornamental flowerbeds, a forest of knowledge, themed exhibitions and an iris and rose garden. Adventure, relaxation, indulgence and horticultural training are all on the agenda. No matter your age or your gardening level, egapark will be the first port of call for all visitors to the German National Garden Show.
Petersberg Citadel Erfurt: on a treasure hunt with an idyllic backdrop
Erfurt also goes above and beyond. Petersberg Citadel, a mighty fortress complex with a monastic church overlooking the city, will awake from a deep slumber for the 2021 German National Garden Show. Throughout the 171 days of the green event, visitors can expect to see amazing landscape design and experience an entertaining array of culture set against a historical backdrop, with superb views of Erfurt Old Town. The complex has a fascinating monastery garden, with its medicinal plants, herbs and edible plants once used by the monks and nuns. The Gardens through the Eras exhibition also showcases the history of horticultural styles throughout the ages, while Erfurt Garden Treasures will showcase vegetables that have gone down in Erfurt horticultural history alongside old-school dyeing, herbaceous and medicinal plants.
Altenstein Palace Gardens: straight out of the storybooks
The scent of roses wafts across the paths, iris blossoms glisten in the sun and bees buzz from plant to plant: Altenstein Palace Gardens in Bad Liebenstein are the place every flower lover wants to be. Surrounded by an enchanting park, nestled in among dense deciduous forests, the historical English Renaissance Revival style Altenstein Palace seems other-worldly. The great German composer Johannes Brahms stayed at Altenstein Palace in the late 19th century. It was here that he was inspired to create musical flights of fancy, while he, according to his letters, watched the pheasants, stags and roe in the park. The points of interest across the grounds – the Princess Gardens, Devil's Bridge, Well Meadow, Knights' Chapel and the Chinese House on the Hollow Stone – sound like something from a Grimms' Fairy Tale. Altenstein Palace Gardens are the crowning jewel of horticultural aesthetics, where the park and surrounding countryside blend into a single work of art. So it's no wonder that Altenstein Palace Gardens were chosen as one of the 25 sites to host the 2021 German National Garden Show.
Bad Langensalza: gardens that make people smile
Bad Langensalza appears simply made to be one of the sites for the 2021 German National Garden Show. The spa town in the Unstrut-Hainich-Kreis district has made a name for itself as the City of Gardens, and it lives up to this title. Greenery and blooming flowers can be found on every corner here. Numerous picture-perfect gardens explore specific themes. "There's a cure for everything" is the theme of the Pharmacy Garden, where more than 80 medicinal plants grow in the flowerbeds behind a traditional half-timbered building that houses the Thuringian Pharmacy Museum. Then it's on to the garden of bliss, the Japanese Garden, where a zigzag bridge awaits on the way to the wooden tea pavilion – Japanese people believe this is a great way to ward off evil spirits. A gently trickling waterfall, a clear pond with Koi carp, a collection of bonsai art and a meditative tea ceremony round off this oriental experience. The pièce de résistance is the Rose Garden, the garden of love. With its beautiful fragrant flowers, it is considered one of the best of its kind. Visitors can look forward to 450 species of the precious plant, including many historical varieties. This rose oasis is transformed into a fragrant sea of blossoms every June to October – heaven on earth for flower fans!
The gardens of Dornburg Palaces: "inspiriting" views
The 2021 German National Garden Show has so many green gems on offer, it's difficult to pick just five highlights for our list. But the gardens of Dornburg Palaces in Dornburg-Camburg have definitely earned the nomination. "The view is glorious and inspiriting, the well-kept gardens are full of blooming flowers," wrote Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, possibly Germany's most famous poet, about the gardens in a letter in 1828. Still to this day, he is absolutely right. The gardens are the perfect places to take a leisurely stroll around three palaces: The Old Palace, which was once a medieval fortress, the gallant Rococo Palace and the enchanting Renaissance Palace. This backdrop of three impressive buildings high above the Saale Valley also boasts beautifully resplendent, lovingly maintained gardens – the dream destination for people who like a nice walk. There are secluded garden oases, hidden tea rooms, an impressive ash walkway and an arcade adorned with opulent climbing roses here. Pruned hedges create a Baroque-style ensemble, wine grapes are grown on the rocky hillside, while the herb garden and orchard inspire culinary cravings. The Dornburg ensemble is a historical treasure, a paradise for fans of palaces and gardens alike.