Kosmos Wiepersdorf


Stop 9: Orangery
© Dirk Bleicker

Stop 9

Proximity and distance: Village and castle

The orangery that borders the park to the south was built—again by Achim von Arnim-Bärwalde—as a “large greenhouse” in 1888/89. Orangeries were “gardens for citrus fruits,” which as exotic imports served prestigious purposes. At the same time, the Wiepersdorf orangery was and still is a shelter for the plants and trees of the palace park that are not winter hardy. Today, the orangery also houses a café that is open on Sunday afternoons during the summer season—when the plants are outdoors in the park. One of the reasons that this restaurant facility is very important is because of the relationship between the village and the castle: it is one of the few local employers in the area.

The relationship between village and castle was often characterized by distance. First, the villagers of Wiepersdorf were confronted with the landed nobility in the shape of the castle. Then it was the functionaries, the artists, who were seen—rightly or wrongly—as privileged and in compliance with the government, that is, as associated with the political authorities in the GDR. Artists who worked in Wiepersdorf during the GDR years reported that this distance was bridged by the village restaurant called “Alte Schmiede.” It was run by the Donath family until after reunification. Elfriede Donath, who died in the spring of 2021 and who had worked for decades at Wiepersdorf Castle as manager, played a decisive role. Here, in the “pub,” as the writer Christa Kozik said, one was “closer” to the villagers. This reaching out, fostering bonds between the castle and the village, must be pursued also in the present by public events and the café in the orangery.

But it is true for GDR times that not everyone could come to Wiepersdorf—and not everyone wanted to. You can learn more about the contradictions of socialist Wiepersdorf at the tenth and last stop at the park exit.