Eremitage, Landscape Garden in Arlesheim

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Arlesheim, Switzerland

Eremitage, Landscape Garden in Arlesheim Reviews

Kathrin_E Kathrin_E
371 reviews
Eremitage, Landscape Garden in Arlesheim Mar 22, 2017
Arlesheim's main treasure, in addition to the cathedral, is the park known as Eremitage. The Eremitage is described as the largest English landscape garden of Switzerland (which means there cannot be many others). The park is located in a small side valley among rolling hills which are covered with forests. The entrance is a short walk from the centre of the village next to the rocky hill with Briseck castle. It includes the stream and three ponds, the steep castle hill, meadows and forest. It has the appearance of a very pleasant natural landscape but was in fact carefully designed and shaped.

The garden was designed in the late 18th century for Balbina von Andlau-Staal, member of a local noble family. In the revolution and the following French occupation it was destroyed a few years later but reinstalled after 1812 when the noble owners returned. The present buildings, like the castle ruin, the mill, and other economy buildings were integrated into the garden plan as well as the rocks and grottos of the hill. The three artificial ponds served for the breeding of fish and are still inhabited by large numbers of carps. Some meadows are pastures for sheep and cows of local races. Small monuments refer to antique mythology.

The castle creates memories of medieval knightship, in its romantic interpretation of course. The name „Eremitage“ derives from the hermit's cell that was installed on a rock above the entrance.

The park can be accessed 24/7 and for free. The main trail around the ponds leads gently uphill and takes you in a wide curve up to the castle on the hilltop. This is a very pleasant and easy walk, you hardly notice how much altitude you are gaining. The paths on the hillside, however, are steep and zigzagging, partly stairs, partly forest trails, and much trickier to walk.

Eremitage park has, as the name implies, a hermitage and a resident hermit. The hermit's cell is a little chapel-like building in a small garden on the steep rocky hillside. It is built from wood and covered with bark to make it look more rustic. The hermit inside is not a real person but a mechanical puppet, though. Only on certain occasions in summer the windows of the hermit's cell are opened so people can see him. During my visit the hermit's cell was undergoing renovations so I could not see him, though.

Further up the hill there is a viewpoint called the hermit's lookout, a wooden shed that overlooks the valley and park.

Nature has invaded the landscape garden. It is buzzing with life. I visited in May and lots of wildflowers in all colours were in bloom everywhere. Birds and waterfowl like the ponds and the forest areas. May meant little fluffy ducklings around... The ponds are used to breed carps; the fish are clearly visible in the light greenish water. Some pastures host herds of domestic animals. There are cows, and also sheep from an old race which have black heads and a white coat.

Walking Eremitage park is already romantic in itself, you'd think trees and lakes and flowers and little buildings, that's enough. However, they do indeed provide their visitors with an overkill of Swiss romantic, it's all there... What does it need for an overkill? Right - cowbells.

Approaching the far end of the park I heard their sound. I could not believe my ears. Then I saw the meadow with a herd of brown cows. The whole family, or better clan, was there together: the bull, several female cows, their suckling calves and young heifers. They all seemed very gentle, even the big strong bull, and happily posed for photos. They probably belong to a race that is bred for meat only, not for the milk, otherwise they would not have left the calves with their mothers. It is a beautiful picture, the golden brown bovines in a lush green pasture full of flowers.
Hermitage in Eremitage
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