Anyone who visits Bad Homburg Palace and its park takes a quick run through the centuries. In the palace district of today’s spa town in front of the Taunus Mountains in central Hesse, different layers of time come together sharply and stimulatingly. The architectural complex combines the White Tower, a remnant of the medieval "Hohenburg" and now the town's landmark, with an early Baroque palace as well as some later additions by Prussian kings and German emperors. The two-tiered palace garden has also grown over 300 years, its beginnings going back even further. The State Palaces and Gardens of Hesse have their headquarters at this place of concentrated history.

The Castle Becomes a Palace

Hesse-Homburg was a dwarf state in the Holy Roman Empire and the German Confederation. Only after the wars against Napoleon was it to gain full sovereignty in 1815. Frederick II (1633-1708) had provided a respectable seat of government by demolishing the old castle with the exception of the keep. From 1679 to 1686, master builder Paul Andrich built him a massive but sober barracks-like early Baroque palace (including a church and a burial chamber), which is adorned with pictorial portals. From one of them the builder of the “Friedrichsburg” bursts out on horseback as a fully sculptured figure. The landgrave eventually ran out of money and his successors chronically lacked it, so that the buildings do not enclose the upper of two courtyards. The gap has since offered all visitors magnificent views of nature.

Bad Homburg Palace, cedars in front of the royal wing

Tall cedars stand picturesquely in the upper garden of the park in front of the royal wing, the central building of the palace complex

Photo: Kilian Schönberger, 2016

Bad Homburg Palace, coat of arms

The coat of arms of the landgraves and landgravine of Hesse-Homburg is emblazoned above the entrance to Bad Homburg’s Dorotheenstrasse

Photo: Michael Leukel, 2019

Bad Homburg Palace, ornamental portal

One of the ornamental portals of the palace: Landgrave Frederick II had himself immortalised as the builder in this way

Photo: Michael Leukel, 2020

Bad Homburg Palace Park

The landscaped part of the palace park offers a variety of scenes

Bad Homburg Palace Park, parkway

The palace park is divided into two parts: in a higher section there are old and reconstructed formal structures as well as imperial-era designs. It is connected by paths to the spacious lower section, which is characterised above all by natural landscapes around a pond and a stately orchard.

Photo: Michael Leukel, 2020

Bad Homburg Palace, carpet beds in the upper garden

Various carpet beds in the upper garden refer to the taste after 1900, when Emperor William II and his family regularly used the palace as a secondary residence.

Photo: Olli Heimann, 2018

Garden Art of Several Eras

The glorious and war-wounded Frederick, whom the poet Heinrich von Kleist declared the “Hero of Fehrbellin” in “Prince Frederick of Homburg” after a battle site of 1675, is essentially responsible for the architectural heritage. On the other hand, the landgravial couple Frederick V (1748-1820) and Caroline (1746-1821) and their daughter-in-law Elizabeth (1770-1840), who was born as a British royal daughter, rendered outstanding services to the art of gardening. The palace park, with its Baroque structures and orangery, was redesigned in the English garden style and a unique landscape was added: gardens and wooded areas were laid out in a straight line along a north-western axis covering 360 hectares and more than ten kilometres. The Landgravial Garden Landscape, which has already been partially reconstructed today, was a total work of art and combined philosophical ideals, aesthetics and usability. Due to numerous changes and interventions, its former dimensions can only be guessed at. Nevertheless, its design, which is still visible today, is unique in Germany and had a formative influence on the city of Bad Homburg. The horticultural heritage of the landgraves of Hesse-Homburg was included in the European Garden Heritage Network (EGHN) in 2022 in order to become much more visible nationally and internationally than before.

Bad Homburg Palace, Romanesque Hall

The Romanesque Hall at the upper palace ensemble is an extension from the imperial period with medieval building elements.

Poto: Michael Leukel, 2018

Bad Homburg Palace, terrace on the upper palace courtyard

The terrace on the upper palace courtyard offers a distant view of the Taunus heights.

Photo: Olli Heimann, 2018

Bad Homburg Palace, White Tower

The White Tower towers over the palace and the city. From its height there is a magnificent view of the skyline as far as Frankfurt am Main.

Photo: Alexander Paul Englert

Bad Homburg Palace Park, “Goethes Ruh”

A former quarry has been turned into the secluded “Goethes Ruh” (Goethe’s Rest). The poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was a guest at the landgravial court.

Photo: Alexander Paul Englert, 2020

Widow’s Residence and Imperial Rooms

In ephemeral contrast, two sections in different wings of the palace present themselves as immortal time capsules: the widow’s residence of the English landgravine “Eliza” with Biedermeier furnishings and Classicist interior art from the first quarter of the 19th century. The centrepiece and biggest tourist attraction are the Imperial-era flats, which were particularly influential on the last German Emperor William II (1859-1941) and his wife. They are the only largely authentically furnished private and representative rooms of the Hohenzollern rulers still preserved in the Federal Republic. This place of historical remembrance in the German museum landscape also includes a piece of reconstructed garden culture as it was in the days of the emperor: Carpet beds in the upper palace park.