The Cleveland Cultural Gardens

The Cleveland Cultural Gardens are in Rockefeller Park, on 254 acres of ravine in Cleveland, Ohio. The park spans two miles and is bordered by University Center and Lake Eerie. The land was donated to the City of Cleveland by John D. Rockefeller at the end of the 19th century in commemoration of the first centennial of the city. The Cleveland Cultural Gardens



The Gardens grew very gradually at first. The park was designed by Ernest W. Bowditch and in 1916, The Shakespeare Garden was the first of the gardens to be created. This garden eventually became the British Garden after the Cleveland Cultural Gardens Federation was formed in the 1920’s and the growth of the gardens finally accelerated. A Hebrew Garden was added and the federation worked with the community to design gardens that represented a variety of ethnicities and cultures.

The Wok Progress Administration of the Federal Government played a large part in providing funding for the inclusive gardens which are now considered a historically significant landmark as it is a living memorial of multinationalism and the WPA. Photo: The Cleveland Cultural Gardens

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»The Gardens

The Gardens

There are currently 29 gardens that span a 3 mile walk through the Rockefeller Park. Eight gardens are currently being developed but are not finished yet for viewing—Ethiopian, Korean, Lebanese, Native American, Scottish, Turkish and Vietnamese.

African American Garden seeks to create an atmosphere much that would have been felt by slaves on passage to the New World. The Doorway of No Return is a sandstone portal that represents unknown transition and the Infinity Fountain depicts the tranquility of the Atlantic Ocean. This garden is going to be rebuilt soon and currently has seasonal landscaping planted.

Armenian Garden is shaped as a sacred geometric symbol that is a representation of Christ and very important to the Armenian people. The Alphabet Monument at the front of this garden seeks to remind that the Armenian alphabet was created in response to conversion to Christianity. The garden is planted with Juniper to keep in design with the surrounding gardens.

American Legion Garden is a crypt that holds soil from various historic shrines of the world. This garden symbolizes peace and coming together as one world. The garden is planted with seasonal flora.

American Garden has been cared for by middle schoolers in the city since 2009 and is home to make busts of important American figures such as Mark Twain, Booker T. Washington, a Gettysburg Address plaque and many other important monuments. The garden is planted with individual memorial gardens and is mostly hillsides. Photo: The Cleveland Cultural Gardens

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»More Gardens

More Gardens

Azerbaijan Garden was built for the sculpture Hearth that stands at the center. Visitors can see reflections of the earth and sky around them in the curves of the bowl-shaped sculpture that was inspired by a Azerbaijanian poet.

British Garden was originally the Shakespeare Garden and was the very first of the gardens at the park. When the park began a cultural theme in the 1930’s the garden became the British Garden. There are stone pathways through English gates that are lined with hedges. The plantings are colorful and a bust of William Shakespeare is the focus of the garden. The bust sits in front of a Mulberry tree that was grown from one of Shakespeare’s very own.

Chinese Garden is a gift for Tapei and is modeled after a Chinese Imperial Palace. There is a lot of white marble sculpture against stark green landscaping in this garden.

Czech Garden has the most sculptures of all the gardens in Rockefeller Park. The garden is set to exemplify the Czech parents in the community who have exemplified citizenship in America. Many of the statues were made by artists of Czech descent.

Estonian Garden represents hope and a better future for the Estonians that have come to The United States. A sculpture of an inscribed flame is at the center of the garden and represents the freedom from bondage. The flame is atop a mound and surrounded by trees.

Finnish Gardens features several busts of prominent literary, science and political fields. This garden is sponsored by the Finnish Heritage Museum. The 100-year anniversary of Republic of Finland is in 2017 and the federation is currently looking to revitalize this space. Photo: The Cleveland Cultural Gardens

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»More Gardens

More Gardens

German Garden is home to the largest monument in the Cultural Gardens. This monument, Goethe and Schiller is the likeness of the philosophers and writers of the same name. There are also busts of Bach, Beethoven and other great German figures.

Greek Garden entrance is through two large, Greek style columns. The center of the space is a sunken garden that is shaped as a Greek Cross. There is a pylon sculpture inscribed with the names of historic Greek Figures, a reflecting pool, plants that grow natively in Greece, Sage and Cyprus trees.

Hebrew Garden was the first garden to be built in the Cultural theme that stuck with the Rockefeller Park gardens. The monument in this garden is a testament to the Zionist movement. There is a pink marble fountain that is the site to see in this garden and a smaller musician’s garden in the shape of a lyre lies in the south end of the Hebrew Garden.

India Garden features a statue of Gandhi, and the six heritage pillars. The garden is bordered by a stream and steps down to it are currently being constructed.

Irish Garden is sandstone walkways that form a Celtic cross that is filled in with the fresh green landscape of Ireland. This garden was recently expanded to include a Writer’s Recognition Court and The Fountain Plaza.

Italian Garden conveys the Italian Renaissance with large stone walkways, benches, grand staircases, and an amphitheater. This garden is decorated with a large fountain on the upper level along with a future Parthenon structure that will be finished in 2017. A Renaissance fountain can also be found on the lower level with etchings of famous Italian figures.

Latvian Garden is a privately funded garden provided by a family in Cleveland. This space features several sculptures, Birch Trees, a Granite structure, and the Latvian flag displayed. Photo: The Cleveland Cultural Gardens

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»More Gardens

More Gardens

Lithuanian Garden is shaped like a lyre and contains many statues, fountains, busts, and reliefs spread out over three separate levels.

Native American Garden started in 2012 and is used by the Native American populations in Cleveland for seasonal celebrations and gatherings. This garden is incomplete and will be finished with the help of volunteers in the future.

Polish Garden was created using organic material that came from Poland including an Elm tree. This garden features a beautiful fountain that was constructed with donations from children and features allegorical figures. Surrounding the fountain are the busts of seven prominent Polish historical figures.

Romanian Garden is in a glade surrounded by maples and coniferous trees and features the statue of George Enescu.

Serbian Garden features a central plaza with a large cube made of marble, surrounded by a pebble mosaic, and concrete seating. There are also several busts throughout the garden of historical Serbian figures.

Slovak Garden is three acres of lawn space featuring a large sandstone terrace overlooking the garden and situated between two Slovakian community leaders.

Slovenian Garden reflects the culture of Slovenians, Serbians, and Croatians. This garden features many blossoming trees that are native to Yugoslavia, and slopes to become three distinct levels one of which includes a sunken garden. There is an amphitheater in this garden that is also bordered by the Doan Brooks.

Ukrainian Garden features a series of courts made of brick and stone that are all connected by paved sidewalks. There are busts of many historical figures from Ukraine’s cultural and political history. Three of the busts, once thought to be stolen, have been moved to the Ukrainian Museum and Archives and replicas were created in their place. Photo: The Cleveland Cultural Gardens

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»One World

One World

Cleveland Cultural Gardens puts on one main event every year called One World. This year, on the 100 birthday of the garden, One World held its 71st event. This events draws thousands of people from not only Cleveland, but the entire state and surrounding states as well. There is a Parade of Flags and naturalization ceremony to kick off the event followed by tours of the gardens, cultural performances including dancing, singing and storytelling, authentic food vendors representing many of the cultures in the gardens, and family activities all day long.

One World Day is the embodiment of the central theme of the Cleveland Cultural Gardens—“Peace Through Mutual Understanding”, and has free admission and parking. There will also be vendors selling handmade items, direct sales and other merchandise. Photo: The Cleveland Cultural Gardens

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»Plan your Visit

Plan your Visit

There are many other events throughout the year including concerts and performances in the amphitheaters, Opera in the Italian garden, festivals, weddings, and family gatherings that happen in the gardens. Because the gardens are open to the public, there are many community sponsored events that happen in the Cultural Gardens and many people jogging, biking, or strolling through all day. However, there are events taking place that will require an admission to access.

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Cleveland Cultural Gardens in Cleveland, Ohio

  • History, Photo: The Cleveland Cultural Gardens
  • The Gardens, Photo: The Cleveland Cultural Gardens
  • More Gardens, Photo: The Cleveland Cultural Gardens
  • More Gardens, Photo: The Cleveland Cultural Gardens
  • More Gardens, Photo: The Cleveland Cultural Gardens
  • One World, Photo: The Cleveland Cultural Gardens
  • Plan your Visit, Photo: The Cleveland Cultural Gardens
  • Cover Photo: The Cleveland Cultural Gardens