Perhaps nothing takes the edge off summer's heat like the soothing sound of cascading water. Throughout Europe there are water gardens that represent a collaboration among architect, sculptor and engineer, who create a symphony of water by channeling a natural stream or other source through what is generally a multilevel garden setting.
Tivoli is among teh most famous, as is Versailles, which ws created for Louis XIV in the late 17th century. The palace's formal gardens, designed by Andre Le Notre, cover 250 acres acres and encompass dozens of statues and a number of major reflecting ponds. A river was diverted to provide water for Versailles' 600 fountains, whose machinery was designed by Florentine engineers.
Among Europe's lesser-known water gardens:
Wilhelmshohe, in Kassel, Germany, is an 800-acre public park with ornameental fountain displays set in the formal English gardens of Wilhelmshohe Palace. An elevated statue of Hercules, which including its base is more than 200 feet high, dominates the city's western skyline and overlooks the baroque architecture of the 18th century palace. The water begins at the foot of the statue and falls in a series of cascades and fountains to the pond in front of the palace. The gardens are open from May to September on a limited schedle; some musueum rooms in the palace also are open to visitors.
Villa Lante, Bagnaia, Italy. Completed under Cardinal Bambara in 1578, the villa is a fine example of how Renaissance and baroque elements were often fused with the landscape in the 16th century. Featuring five levels of terraces on the slopes of a hill, the gardens blend sculpture and fountains with great effect. Of special note is the Lumini Fountain, with innumerable fan-shaped jets. Villa and gardens are open daily, May to September.
Hellbrunn Castle, just outside Salzburg, is an early baroque countrypalace built in the early 17th century. Its formal gardens feature fountains, grotesque -- masks spouting water and trick devices -- such as a miniature mechanical theater built in 1750 with figures on stage moved by water power. Open daily May to September.