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History of the grounds

The first garden in Grafenegg was a geometric and baroque star garden to the west of the palace, which probably came into being from the mid-17th century onwards, together with a magnificent lime tree-lined walk extending eastwards from the star garden. Large parts of the remaining grounds were still fields and vineyards back then. The ideal behind such baroque planting (which was common to all gardens of the time) was the implementation of the absolutist idea – well-ordered, strictly symmetrical, artificial – embedded in the hierarchical system of categories of thought and power. Such gardens were usually arranged around a centre, which naturally stood for the absolutist ruler.

The restoration of the palace in historicist style in the middle of the 19th century was the main and decisive turning-point for the Grafenegg palace grounds, which was to have a lasting effect on their appearance. In other words: they were turned into an English park, its ideal being to integrate the grounds into the beauty of nature as it is. The straight lines from the baroque period gave way to rounded and winding paths, whereby the old lines of sight became barely recognisable. That time also marked the starting point of turning the palace grounds into an arboretum. A collection of trees from all over the world was brought to Grafenegg, which resulted in a list stating 175 different species in 1910.

Revitalisation of the grounds

One of the most beautiful landscape gardens in Austria shines in a new light from 2008. The revitalisation measures have protected the multifarious history of the grounds and enhanced their experiencability. They now offer numerous views and insights again, particularly the wide lines of sight to the centrally located palace or the marked ensembles of trees closing the space, making even baroque elements visible again.

Various new plantings of trees and shrubs as well as newly laid out perennial areas garantuee an intense experience of the change of seasons with all kinds of dabs of blossom, scent and colour over the course of the year.

By restoring the Agathenweg and building a bridge, the western part of the grounds, where the watercourse of the Mühlkamp creates an atmospheric experience, has been newly developed. Among other things, this is due to the new Mühlkampausstand [Mühlkamp island] and the beech pond. Attractive seating and viewing areas invite you to tarry a while, and the grounds’ meadow landscapes are great for resting and picnicking. And, naturally, the imposing Wolkenturm open air theatre with its exciting architectural style is closely interwoven with the «new grounds». The meadow landscape deliberately falls in folds here – the boundaries between building and landscape are blurred.