Park & Schloss Branitz

Palace in Cottbus

A highlight of a visit to Cottbus is this palace-and-park ensemble, which stems from the feverish brow of Prince Hermann von Pückler-Muskau (1785–1871) – aristocrat, writer, ladies' man, eccentric and one of Germany's most formidable garden architects. From 1845 until his death, he turned his bleak ancestral family estate into an arcadian English-style park – shaping hills, moving trees, digging canals and lakes, and building pyramid-shaped tumuli, one of which serves as his burial place.

For an introduction to this brilliant, if kooky, man, swing by the visitors centre in the Gutshof (adult/concession €4.50/3.50; 10am-5pm Apr-Oct), then see how his fascination for the exotic translated into his living space on a spin around the Schloss itself. While the private salons on the ground floor have been restored to their former glory, the Schloss' main draw – the exotic oriental rooms upstairs – will be undergoing a facelift until at least 2019. Once completed they will have exhibits about Pückler's life and achievements as well as a gallery covering the history of the palace. Meanwhile, temporary exhibits are housed in the Marstall (adult/concession €3.50/2.50; 11am-5pm Apr-Sep).

Bus 10 makes the 4km trip from Cottbus train station to the park at least hourly (€1.50, 25 minutes).

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