The site

In the late 18th and early 19th centuries the small town of Weimar in Thuringia saw a remarkable cultural flowering. Enlightened ducal patronage attracted many leading German writers, composers and artists to the town, including Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Friedrich Schiller and Franz Liszt, thus making Weimar the cultural centre of Europe at that time. This development is reflected in the high quality of many of the buildings and parks in the surrounding area.

"Classical Weimar” was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites in 1998, the 20th site in Germany to be recognised as World Heritage. “Classical Weimar” comprises twelve individual buildings and ensembles, all of which portray tangible and intangible elements of Classical Weimar’s cultural heritage. Weimar’s City Castle, the Duchess Anna Amalia Library, Goethe’s and Schiller’s residences, the Town Church, the Ducal Vault with the Historic Cemetery and many others are included on the World Heritage List.

Weimar’s historical parks and gardens connect the historical buildings and their surrounding grounds and are a key feature in the “Classical Weimar” collection: the Park on the Ilm with the Roman House and Goethe’s Garden House, Belvedere Park with its Castle and Orangery, Tiefurt Park and Castle and Ettersburg Park and Castle.


The project

The European Heritage Volunteers Project “Parks and Gardens of Classical Weimar” has been taking place annually since 2011. All the projects of the last twelve years have aimed to combine practical interventions to reconstruct and maintain historic gardens and parks with heritage education and the promotion of the idea of volunteering for heritage.

The 2021 project took place at the so called "kitchen garden", situated at the southern edge of Belvedere Park. The kitchen garden had been arranged in the 19th century as a combined fruit, vegetable and flower garden. Time has had its hand on this garden, and some of its elements have been lost to nature’s way. Nonetheless, the traces of the original designs remain. As in the previous years, the project combined two tasks – the conservation of the dry stone walls surrounding the garden and the reconstruction of its former path system.

The dry stone walls as the formative element of the kitchen garden are ruinous and need to be protected against progressive decay. During the previous years the structure has being successively repaired. Within the framework of the 2018 project the first steps have been undertaken, which were advanced in 2019 and 2020; in 2021 the works were continued. Plants that damage the walls were carefully taken away, the instable parts of the walls stone by stone deconstructed and later replaced. Since the dry stone walls are an important habitat for wild bees and other rare insects the interventions needed to be carried out extremely carefully. The works were guided by a bricklayer specialised on dry stone walls and traditional masonry techniques, who provided during the study part additional theoretical knowledge in this field.

Another part of the group continued to reconstruct a stone stairway connecting the kitchen garden with the other parts of Belvedere Park as well as to uncover and reconstruct the pathway which had been leading to the central area of the kitchen garden, where a small fountain used to be located according to historical records. The works on the path system which had been starting in 2020 and were advanced by the group of 2021 will continue in 2022 with the final objective that the pathway will be uncovered all the way until the dry stone wall to complete the narrative of this area of the site.

The participants had the opportunity to rotate between both groups and thus to become familiar both with the dry stone wall techniques as well as with the tasks related to garden archaeology and the reconstruction of the path system.

The educational part of the project informed the participants about the background of the project, while providing knowledge about historical gardens and parks, traditional gardening and other related topics. Guided tours were be included, presenting the participants with an overview of the “Classical Weimar” as a UNESCO World Heritage site, as well as excursions to related heritage sites. The opportunity of free entrance to museums and exhibitions also enabled in addition individual study.


The project was organised by European Heritage Volunteers, in cooperation with Klassik Stiftung Weimar – Weimar Classic Foundation.  

As in all years since 2012, the project was part of the World Heritage Volunteers Campaign, a worldwide initiative put forth by UNESCO, being its longest recurrent project worldwide to take place uninterruptedly.

European Heritage Volunteers