The Muskau Park is the largest and one of the most famous English gardens of Germany and Poland. Situated in the historic Upper Lusatia region, it covers 3.5 square kilometers (1.4 sq mi) of land in Poland and 2.1 km2 (0.81 sq mi) in Germany. The park extends on both sides of the Lusatian Neisse river, which constitutes the border between the countries. The 17.9 km2 (6.9 sq mi) buffer zone around the park encompassed the German town Bad Muskau (Upper Sorbian: Mužakow) in the West and Polish Łęknica (Wjeska, former Lugknitz) in the East.
While Muskau Castle is situated west of the river, the heart of the park are the partially wooded raised areas on the east bank called The Park on Terraces. In 2003 a pedestrian bridge spanning the Neisse was rebuilt to connect both parts. On July 2, 2004, UNESCO added the park to its World Heritage List, as an exemplary example of cross-border cultural collaboration between Poland and Germany. It was added to the list on two criteria: for breaking new ground in terms of development towards the ideal man-made landscape, and for its influence on the development of landscape architecture as a discipline.
A fortress on the Neisse river at Muskau was first mentioned as early as in the 13th under the rule of Margrave Henry III of Meissen. The founder of the adjacent park was Prince Hermann von Pückler-Muskau (1785-1871), the author of the influential Hints on Landscape Gardening and owner of the state country of Muskau since 1811. After prolonged studies in England, in 1815 during the time when the northeastern part of Upper Lusatia fell to Prussia, he laid out the Park. As time went by, he established an international school of landscape management in Bad Muskau and outlined the construction of an extensive landscape park which would envelop the town "in a way not done before on such a grand scale".
The works involved remodelling the Baroque "Old Castle" - actually a former castle gate - and the construction of a Gothic chapel, an English cottage, several bridges, and an orangery designed by Friedrich Ludwig Persius. Pückler reconstructed the medieval fortress as the "New Castle", the compositional centre of the park, with a network of paths radiating from it and a pleasure ground influenced by the ideas of Humphry Repton, whose son John Adey worked at Muskau from 1822 on.
The extensions went on until 1845, when Pückler due to his enormous debts was constrained to sell the patrimony. The next year it was acquired by Prince Frederick of the Netherlands, who employed Eduard Petzold, Pückler's disciple and a well-known landscape gardener, to complete his design. Upon his death in 1881, he was followed by his daughter Princess Marie, who sold the estates to the Arnim noble family.