Looking at its immense scale, it’s hard to believe that Bergpark Wilhemshöhe originated as a garden. You can easily spend an entire day in this area, exploring castles and grottoes, watching the water features, or simply wandering in the lush green forest.
The construction of the Bergpark, literally translated as “mountain park”, began in 1696 at the behest of the Landgrave Charles I of Hesse-Kassel. He desired a Baroque garden that could rival the one in Versailles. Yet it must match with the remarkable topography of the Karlsberg hill. This extraordinary project took more than a lifetime to complete. Over the next 150 years, his successors continued and further expanded the park. Today, Bergpark Wilhemshöhe covers an area of more than 240 hectares, making it Europe’s largest hillside park.
Bergpark Wilhemshöhe’s central piece is a massive water cascade. where wasserspiele (water features) is performed each summer. It is topped by a towering Hercules statue (11.5m) – a copper masterpiece that took the Italian sculptor Giovanni Francesco Guerriero 16 years to complete. The megastructure is visible from many kilometers. It is believed to represent the wealth and power of the European rulers, as well as their belief in mastering nature.
Attractions in Bergpark Wilhemshöhe
On the eastern part of Bergpark Wilhemshöhe is the Landgrave’s palace. This Neoclassical building was constructed at the end of the 18th century for Landgrave William IX. Later it came under the ownership of Germany’s last Emperor Kaiser Wilhelm II. He was very fond of this place and often resided here during summer. The palace stands directly opposite the water cascade. Therefore, spectators can enjoy the water displays even from the palace’s terrace. Inside, Wilhemshöhe Palace holds a collection of antiquities and the painting of the Old Masters.
Sprinkled on the hillside are romantic temples, grottoes, and artificial ruins. There is also a castle that looks like it has existed since medieval times. It was named Löwenburg, or “Lion Castle” and took inspiration from Scottish castles. Built between 1793 and 1801, this faux fortress was designed as a retreat for Landgrave William I of Hesse-Kassel. But these days it is home to numerous armors, ceremonial weapons, tapestry, as well as medieval stained glasses.
Tips for visiting Bergpark Wilhemshöhe
- Bergpark Wilhemshöhe is located on the western side of Kassel – a transportation hub in Central Germany. It’s accessible by Tram 1, station Wilhemshöhe (Park).
- The interior of the Löwenburg, which includes the armoury, the apartments and the palace’s chapel can only be visited as part of a guided tour.
- During summer, the wasserspiel takes place every day. It begins at 14:30 from the base of the Hercules statue and takes around 90 minutes. The water then runs through the Romantic ruins, and end up at the main pond in front of the palace.