Seeing only the collections and castle buildings would hardly explain the Castle Friedenstein myth: the parks around the Castle also have a central role. Historical gardens have increasingly shown themselves to be visitor magnets. The significance of the gardens in Gotha is not yet sufficiently recognised, and their multifacetedness could play a greater role in Thuringia’s tourist industry, comparable with the parks in Wörlitz.

An English park landscape sprawls around the castle in Gotha, with lakes and pavilions (such as the tea house), gently winding paths and ancient trees; this may be the oldest garden on the continent laid out in an English style, surpassing even the one in Dessau. Any view of the castle covers not only the buildings but also the surrounding landscape, which is perfect for a stroll.

The baroque gardens lie to Castle Friedenstein’s east, flanked by orangeries. These 18th-century buildings show unique architectural features, such as their central rooms decorated like halls of state. These buildings did not only serve to shelter plants in the winter months but also provided backdrops for baroque garden parties. The fan shaped arrangement in which lie the baroque flowerbeds opens onto the façade of Friedrichsthal House, creating a unique baroque ensemble. In the near future the orangeries will be used as display greenhouses, in which the gardens’ plants may be sheltered over the winter. A museum on baroque gardening and the history of orangeries in Europe is also under consideration.

The third garden lies between the Castle and the Ducal Museum to the south. Here there were once extensive lawns which served as a backdrop to the elegance of the historical museum building.

During the expansion of the natural history collections, a large number of conifers were planted to the south of the Ducal Museum, the so-called Fir Garden or “Tannengarten”. Court gardener Carl Theobald Eulefeld designed the 1.2 hectare landscape, which he had planted with 170 examples of 40 different kinds of conifer. Amongst them were many rarities which were first brought to Germany in the middle of the 19th century, such as the North-American Nootka Cypress.

Gotha’s gardens thus comprise three sections: an English landscape garden; a baroque garden; and a garden laid out in the 19th century. As in the baroque castle, here a microcosm reveals the macrocosm of European garden architecture.