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The doubters are forgotten today

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The doubters are forgotten today

The doubters are forgotten today

New castle in the fall © Peter Wilhelm

One of the most beautiful landscaped gardens in Europe is his workplace and his passion: Cord Panning is Managing Director of the "Fürst-Pückler-Park Bad Muskau" Foundation and Park Director. But the park, with its fantastic lines of sight that blur the border between Germany and Poland, was not always the gem that visitors find it today. "There was already a lot going on when I came here 25 years ago - but to resume this ping-pong game of aesthetic visual axes together with Poland was something very special." Many long walks and adventurous excursions through the wilderness and undergrowth were necessary, always in search of old historic trees and the historic stone benches that marked the lines of sight. "We were repeatedly confronted by border guards who held a machine gun up to us and asked us in the purest, most beautiful Polish what we were doing," Cord Panning recalls the early days with a slight smile. Even after two years, he still got lost from time to time, because where there used to be views and exposed old trees that gave the park structure, there was now nothing but wilderness. Today, when you walk through the incredible 830 hectares of the park and enjoy the unique views, it is almost unimaginable.

For Cord Panning, however, the park, which was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2004, has a completely different aspect to offer.

"Especially today, when structural change is on everyone's lips, I often think of Prince Pückler. All those who shook their heads at him back then are forgotten today, but Prince Pückler remains unforgotten. Today, we would perhaps do well to think in larger time frames like he did. Prince Pückler's visionary thinking in embarking on a mammoth aesthetic project against all economic reason fascinates me. The question is how we can attract such players to Lusatia again today. Space, freedom and opportunities await in this beautiful region. But waiting for these people is not enough, we have to actively do something to be attractive - also for former Lusatians who want to come back. What shaped this landscape is far more sustainable than the relatively short phase of industrialization, namely the interaction of people with the landscape. The arc stretches from the medieval pond landscape of the biosphere reserve to the Lusatian Lakeland after open-cast mining. 
You could almost say that the Lusatia region floats in space, there are no clear boundaries here and that is what is so fascinating. New alliances can and must be formed here, even across borders."

Cord Panning has long been at home in Lusatia. He always realizes anew how many treasures the region has to offer when he has guests coming to Lusatia for the first time. Then he is spoiled for choice every time. Should he first show them the park in Muskau or Görlitz, which he considers to be one of the most beautiful towns in Germany? Or perhaps the half-timbered houses with their picturesque cottage gardens, the imaginative density of half-timbered houses in Schönau, or one of the impressive monasteries?

But for his great professional love, the Fürst Pückler Park in Bad Muskau, the recommendation is clear: "The special features of Muskau Park are best appreciated from the edges of the terraces, when the park reveals its full monumentality, which is otherwise only known from English landscape gardens. And where the Neisse flows through the terminal moraine, at the English Bridge, there is a small bench from which you can enjoy the view particularly well."

Cord Panning in an interview

Which four places do you show visitors who are in Lusatia for the first time?

  • First and foremost Muskauer Park, the most beautiful park in Germany.
  • The hiking trails in the UNESCO Global Geopark Muskauer Faltenbogen / Łuk Mużakowa. Especially the geopark at the Babina mine. It has become a fantastic cultural landscape experience where the past and present merge.
  • Görlitz is great, with the oldest secular houses in Germany on Untermarkt. And Görlitz is also a place of urban culture and creativity.
  • The Island of the Senses at Berzdorfer See is also excellent

What is the great heritage of Lusatia for you?

It is the interplay of contrasts in this region. The contrasts of past and present, of nature and culture. You have to think of Lusatia as a whole in terms of its heritage, its fantastic landscapes and its beautiful towns.

This measure is co-financed by tax funds on the basis of the budget approved by the members of the Saxon state parliament.

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Oberlausitz-Niederschlesien mbH

With partnership support from the districts of Bautzen and Görlitz
and regional savings banks.