The Site

Weimar is a small town in central Germany, located in the state of Thuringia. Weimar is famous for its rich cultural history and UNESCO World Heritage sites, the Classical Weimar and the Bauhaus Sites, which comprise several important cultural landmarks within the city. It is also known for being the birthplace of the Weimar Republic, the first democratic government in Germany following the First World War.

The Classical Weimar site includes several buildings and monuments associated with the German literary and cultural movements of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, including the Weimar Court Theatre, the Goethe and Schiller residences, and the Duchess Anna Amalia Library. These sites represent the pinnacle of German culture during the Age of Enlightenment and Romanticism, and they continue to attract visitors from around the world.

Weimar contains various parks and gardens that have been included as components to the UNESCO World Heritage site. Among these, the Belvedere Palace Park stands as a highlight, situated just beyond the city centre as part of the Belvedere Palace complex.

Belvedere Palace was built in the early 18th century as a summer residence for Duke Ernst August of Saxe-Weimar, and the surrounding gardens were designed to complement its ornate architecture. The gardens are divided into several sections, each with its own distinct features. The formal gardens, designed in the French Baroque style, include symmetrical patterns of hedges, flowers, and fountains. Meanwhile, the English-style landscape park features rolling hills, winding paths, and a picturesque fountain lake. The park also includes several pavilions and monuments, including the impressive Orangery, which is home to a collection of exotic plants. The Belvedere Palace Park is a testament to the skill and artistry of the landscape designers of the Baroque and Enlightenment periods. Its landscaped grounds, adorned with vibrant flower beds and elegant sculptures, provides Weimarers a tranquil retreat from urban bustle.


The Project

The European Heritage Volunteers Project "Parks and Gardens of Classical Weimar" has been ongoing since 2011. The project aims to combine practical interventions for the reconstruction and maintenance of historic parks and gardens with heritage education and the promotion of volunteering for heritage. The activities to be carried out will be a continuation of the works that previous generations of participants have led in the same area.

The project's practical work will focus on the "kitchen garden," located at the southern edge of Belvedere Park. Originally established in the 19th century as a combined fruit, vegetable, and flower garden, the kitchen garden has weathered the test of time, with some elements succumbing to the forces of nature. Nevertheless, traces of the original designs remain. Similar to previous years, the project will tackle two tasks: the conservation of the dry-stone walls surrounding the garden and the reconstruction of its former path system.

The dry-stone walls, integral to the identity of the kitchen garden, have deteriorated and require protection against further decay. Previous editions of the European Heritage Volunteers Projects have already seen successful repairs to the structure. In 2024, the project will continue by focusing on one of the lateral dry-stone walls that support the hill alongside the pathway leading to the kitchen garden. Any plants that damage the walls will be carefully removed, and the unstable sections will be painstakingly deconstructed stone by stone, with later replacement. Given that the dry-stone walls serve as essential habitats for wild bees and other rare insects, the interventions must be carried out with utmost care. The works will be guided by a stone mason specialising in dry-stone walls and traditional masonry techniques, who will provide additional theoretical knowledge in this field.

Another group of participants will finalise the reconstruction of a stone stairway connecting the kitchen garden with other sections of Belvedere Park, a task which had been initiated by previous European Heritage Volunteers projects. Additionally, the participants will uncover and continue to reconstruct the pathway that led to the central area of the kitchen garden, where historical records indicate the presence of a small fountain. Ultimately, the pathway will be fully uncovered until it reaches the dry-stone wall, thereby restoring the complete narrative of this particular area of the site.

The participants will have the opportunity to rotate between the two groups, gaining familiarity with both dry-stone wall techniques and tasks related to garden archaeology and path system reconstruction.

This hands-on experience goes beyond mastering a traditional technique; it offers invaluable lessons in the value of slow-paced work in an era dominated by fast construction methods. By engaging in the meticulous process of building dry stone walls, participants will gain a profound appreciation for craftsmanship and patience.

Moreover, dry stone wall construction epitomises sustainability through the reuse of materials and a deep respect for the environment. Participants will learn how this age-old practice minimises environmental impact by using locally-sourced stones without the need for mortar or chemicals. They will understand the importance of preserving natural landscapes while creating structures that endure for generations.

By immersing themselves in the art of dry stone wall construction, participants will not only acquire valuable skills but also cultivate a deeper understanding of sustainability and the timeless principles of craftsmanship.

The educational component of the project will provide participants with background information about the project itself, as well as knowledge about historical gardens and parks, traditional gardening, and related topics. One of the thematic discussions will focus on resilience strategies implemented in historical gardens in Germany to address the challenges of climate change. Additionally, there will be discussions on the UNESCO World Heritage convention system. Guided tours will offer participants an overview of site management for "Classical Weimar" as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The participants will also have free access to museums and exhibitions, facilitating individual study opportunities.


The project will take place from September 01st, till September 14th, 2024, and is organised by European Heritage Volunteers in cooperation with the Classical Weimar Foundation.

The project is part of the World Heritage Volunteers campaign for 2024, an international initiative taking place yearly within the framework of the World Heritage Education Programme at the UNESCO World Heritage Centre. The project has been the longest recurrent project worldwide within the frame of the World Heritage Volunteers campaign to take place uninterruptedly since 2012.

European Heritage Volunteers