Island “Stein” with Villa Hamilton

Returning from a journey to Naples, Franz of Anhalt-Dessau ordered the creation of the island Stein” (1788-1794). Even today, the volcanic cone, the grottoes and passages, the theater, the columbarium, and the temples of day and night spark a desire for discovery in visitors. The educational intention is quite clear. Prince Franz tried to suggest Neapolitan topography, contemporary Italian architecture, and, by planting figs, agaves and Lombard poplars, wanted to give people an idea of the Neapolitan vegetation.

Villa Hamilton, built at the foot of the artificial volcano, is certainly one of the most charming classicist buildings in Germany, constructed as a monument of friendship for the British diplomat, antique collector and geologist Sir William Hamilton, who had climbed Mount Vesuvius together with Prince Franz. The interior of the villa, with its richly furnished, fully restored rooms, is reminiscent of the noble’s Grand Tour through Italy and is one of the best works by architect von Erdmannsdorff.