Caterina Rancho

A Look Inside The Willow Dome, Germany’s Natural Masterpiece

At eleven meters high and twenty-two meters wide, the Weidendom Schlepzig— known as the Willow Dome in English– is a striking sight. Located in the middle of Spreewald, Germany, the Willow Dome offers visitors a peaceful green sanctuary, in addition to functioning as a classroom, wedding venue, and conference space. In the summertime, the Willow Dome– designed by Swiss architect Marcel Kalberer– is almost indistinguishable from the landscape, overgrown and thick with greenery that blends into the hundreds of small rivers, peaceful forests, and green grass fields that characterize the Spreewald area. The dome sits along the shore of one of these rivers, and it is not uncommon to see wildlife weaving their way through the edges of the dome, as though it were simply another natural feature of the environment.

“Early in the year, the Willow Dome seems to be just a skeleton of brown branches. In the middle of spring, it starts to become green with the first leaves, and the sun is still able to shine through the branches,” Dieter Hass, the director of Seinerzeit (the resort on which the Willow Dome is located), told GC. “In summer the inside has changed into a dark green chapel, where you even don’t even get wet when it rains.”

This year marked the Willow Dome’s 12th anniversary (it was built in 2004) and– with a small team of dedicated gardeners– the success shows no signs of stopping. Hass credits the area’s “healthy and unencumbered environment” for the Willow Dome’s continued success. Each year, the dome must be cut back, branches pruned and discarded. But that is part of its beauty– seeing it grow back each year, stronger and fuller than before.

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