Erfurt’s egapark, known locally as the “garden of Thuringia” and often promoted as the state’s “most beautiful garden”, is an important example of 1960s horticultural design. The park was created between 1958 and 1961 for the “First International Horticultural Exhibition of the socialist countries”, or ‘iga’ for short. It is one of the few gardens established in the GDR that have survived to this day. Its conception was entrusted to the landscape architect Reinhold Lingner. Working in the style of post-war modernism, he designed an ensemble of flower beds, exhibition halls and pavilion buildings whose uniform composition carries through to their furnishings and interior design.
The expansive 36-hectare park is located southwest of Erfurt’s medieval city centre, on the Cyriaksberg, a summit that was once the site of a fortress. Work to transform this area into a public landscaped park began as early as 1873. After the First World War, a major redesign was carried out according to plans by the landscape architect Walter Funcke. Today’s egapark includes this historical section and continues further to the south-west.
There, at the main entrance, Reinhold Lingner had an exhibition area laid out with 14 uniform, austere halls. Four of them remain today. They were arranged around an open space and had generous glazing to the outdoor area. The interiors were column-free and could therefore be easily adapted to the wishes of the exhibitors. The heart of the park remains the 6,000 m2 flower bed that lies along the longitudinal axis of the site. The adjacent large meadow is interspersed with round exhibition pavilions. The first planting – designed for iga ’61 – was conceived by Lingner’s wife, the artist Alice Lingner.
Reminders of the former fortress are several surviving structures: two turrets that are now used as an observatory and a viewing tower, as well as the defensive barracks. The latter houses the German Horticultural Museum, which was inaugurated at the same time as the iga ’61.
The egapark in its entirety has been a protected historical monument since 1992. The 2021 National Garden Show will have its centre here, so the park is currently being comprehensively renovated – while garden and recreational park operations continue uninterrupted. [KS/DK]
Contact and opening hours
Gothaer Straße 38