Löwenburg (Lion Castle) in Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe

Bergpark Wilhemshöhe: An Extraordinary Garden

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.

Through the forest of Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe
Beautiful tree tunnel
Water cascade in Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe
View from the summit

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.

Wilhemshöhe Palace in Neoclassical style
View of the park from Wilhemshöhe Palace

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.

14 thoughts on “Bergpark Wilhemshöhe: An Extraordinary Garden”

    1. I was surprised as well 🙂 Before my visit, I only knew Kassel as a station between Hamburg and Frankfurt. I had never thought that there was such a spectacular park.

  1. Bama – Jakarta, Indonesia – Based in Jakarta, always curious about the world, always fascinated by ancient temples, easily pleased by food.
    Bama says:

    The Lion Castle surely looks impressive. But what really caught my attention was the water cascade. What a grand addition to the entire compound, which even without the cascade already looks stunning. Your posts on Europe always make me want to go back!

    1. Haha we have the same taste. I must say who designed the water cascade is a real genius. It’s pretty complex, involving many sections. And the fact that they didn’t have electronic pumps makes me even more surprised 🙂

  2. Absolutely magnificent. I didn’t know about this place, so thanks for sharing. Where are you at the moment? Still travelling?

      1. A little bit of restful time then, which is sometimes the best one can ask for 😉 Do you go to Hanoi regularly?

    1. It’s indeed an architectural marvel. I don’t know how they could bring the giant statue to the top of the water cascade. An immense effort! Surprisingly, this spectacular park is not very popular, even among Germans 🙂

  3. Alison and Don – Occupation: being/living/experiencing/travelling In our sixties, with apparently no other authentic option, my husband Don and I sold our apartment and car, sold or gave away all our stuff and set off to discover the world. And ourselves. We started in Italy in 2011 and from there have travelled to Spain, India, Bali, Australia, New Zealand, SE Asia, South America, Egypt, Japan, etc. - you can see the blog archive. We travelled full-time for nearly six years, and then re-established a home in Vancouver. We now travel 2-3 months per year. We are interested in how the world works, how life works, how the creation of experience works, how the mind works. As we travel and both "choose" our course, and at the same time just let it unfold, we discover the "mechanics" of life, the astounding creativity of life, and a continual need to return to trust and presence. Opening the heart, and acceptance of what is, as it is, are keystones for us both. Interests: In no particular order: travel, photography, figure skating (as a fan), acceptance, authenticity, walking/hiking, joy, creativity, being human, adventure, presence, NOW. Same for Don except replace figure skating with Formula One motor racing.
    Alison and Don says:

    What an absolutely magnificent and magical place. Your photos make me feel as if I was there.

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