PARK

Villa Hügel closed from 23.12. to 6.1., the park is open.
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The Hügel Park

A "green treasure trove"

Laid out almost 150 years ago, the park at the Villa Hügel has since been transformed and redesigned many times. Depending on the requirements, design trends or preferences of the times, the park has served as a retreat for the Krupp family but also as a setting for major social functions. It was a location for sports and recreation, and its forests and fields yielded game as well as fruits and vegetables for the kitchen.

For approximately the last fifty years, the Hügel Park has had an appearance very much in the style of an English country garden. For the trained eye, however, traces of the past can be found everywhere. Our park tours are expeditions through a wonderful and changing treasure trove filled with surprising discoveries. Naturally, you can also explore and experience the park without a guide. Every year, over 100,000 visitors come to the Hügel Park to take a walk through nature in a very special place.

Alfred Krupp (1812-1887)

The history of the Hügel Park

Trees with a history

The property that Alfred Krupp purchased in the 1860s for his Bredeney estate was covered with forests and farmland and was wild and rugged, with the level of the grounds varying by up to 60 metres. In the middle, however, a large farmhouse, the Klosterbuschhof, stood at the top of a large barren hill. Alfred Krupp, who devised the plans for the new residence himself, was also involved in the design of the gardens and park. He wished to plant ‘a forest of trees surrounding the estate’. Since Krupp – who was impatient and no longer young – wanted to enjoy this view ‘in his own lifetime’, he wanted the trees that were planted to be mature. However, this was not so easy.

At that time, the technique of replanting trees was practised primarily in France. Therefore, through his company representative in Paris, Krupp acquired the plans for the special wagon needed for this purpose – and had several of them built. Native species of ‘large, older trees … approximately fifty years old … primarily beeches, oaks, lindens, plane trees, firs, spruces’ were planted on the hilly terrain.

the park of Villa Hügel with a view of Lake Baldeney

120 native and exotic tree species

Exotics with a history

Alfred Krupp also planted the first rhododendrons in the park, and more were added in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Have you seen the ‘rhododendron glen’? Records of this planting, located to the west of the Villa Hügel, date back as far as 1936. In any case, Alfred Krupp achieved his goal. Photographs dating from 1883 depict the hilly estate surrounded by forest.

The Hügel Park changed significantly under Friedrich Alfred and Margarethe Krupp. Rare and exotic plants were added – in keeping with the taste of the times. This trend continued under Bertha and Gustav Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach. Thus, the majority of the many non-native plants still found in the Hügel Park today must have been added between 1890 and 1914.

Albert Hinrich Hußmann, Weidendes Pferd (Grazing Horse), bronze, c. 1914

Paths and sculptures

Art in the park

Up until 1914, the Krupp family also added artwork to the park complex. Around 1914, the animal sculptor Albert Hinrich Hußmann created the life-size bronze grazing horse that still stands near the former main entrance, near Gate II, looking – at least when seen from the Villa Hügel – as if at any minute it might toss its head and whinny. Other sculptures and monuments were placed in the Hügel Park, but many were lost over the course of the decades. Those works of art that are still visible today are nestled harmoniously within the designed natural setting. You can learn about the individual objects and their history on a guided tour through the park.

As owner of the Park, the Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach-Stiftung made the decision a few years ago to revitalise the original, remaining park structures through intensive care. The aim is to reveal and maintain the objects that still remain – even those that are fragmentary.

Jean Sprenger, Kleine Sitzende (Little sitting figure), around 1960

Plants

There are over 7,000 trees in the Hügel Park today, and the inventory of trees and shrubs lists over 120 species. The most impressive of these are the majestic old trees and rare shrubs. Splendid native specimens stand side by side with exotic rarities. Among the many awe-inspiring plants, we will mention just a few here: a blue Atlas cedar from Morocco; a Persian ironwood tree; a weeping beech, first mentioned in France in 1811; a Japanese cedar and a North American sequoia.

Many of these green patriarchs were already planted in Alfred Krupp’s day, so some of them must be around 180 years old. A further highlight is the wild and romantic rhododendron glen. Particularly spectacular when they bloom in April and May, the various species of rhododendrons, combined with the East Asian magnolias, lend the park a very special character.