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Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe

UNESCO World Heritage Site
Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe
Name as inscribed on the World Heritage List
Hercules monument at the Bergpark, landmark of Kassel

Location Kassel
Type Cultural
Criteria (iii)(iv)
UNESCO region Europe and North America
Inscription history
Inscription 2013 (37th Session)

Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe is a unique landscape park in Baroque dared anywhere" ("vielleicht das Grandioseste, was irgendwo der Barock in Verbindung von Architektur und Landschaft gewagt hat.").[1]

The area of the park is 2.4 square kilometres (590 acres), making it the largest European hillside park, and second largest park on a mountain slope in the world. Construction of the Bergpark, or "mountain park", began in 1696 at the behest of the Landgraves of Hesse-Kassel and took about 150 years.


  • Location 1
  • Hercules 2
  • History 3
    • 1696 – 1806 3.1
    • 1806 – 1866 3.2
    • 1866 – 1918 3.3
    • 20th century – present 3.4
  • Literature 4
  • References 5
  • Gallery 6
  • External links 7


View towards Kassel

Wilhelmshöhe, a district of Kassel in Lower Hesse, is situated west of the city centre on the foot of the Habichtswald mountain range. It is also known for Kassel-Wilhelmshöhe station on the Hanover–Würzburg high-speed railway line.

The park comprises an area of about 2.4 square kilometres (0.93 sq mi), stretching up to the Karlsberg mountain with the Hercules monument on the summit at 526.2 metres (1,726 ft). Originally laid out in the Baroque style of the giardino all'italiana and the French formal garden, with water features running downhill in cascades to Schloss Wilhelmshöhe, it was later re-arranged into an English landscape garden.

Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe is administrated by the State of Hesse and affiliated with the European Garden Heritage Network since 2009. On 23 June 2013 it was proclaimed as a World Heritage Site during the UNESCO meeting in Phnom Penh.[2]


Water running down the cascades, a coloured picture before 1903

Hercules is a copper statue depicting the ancient Greek demigod Heracles (Gr. Ηρακλής, German Herkules). It is a copy of the third century Farnese Hercules statue, created by Johann Jacob Anthoni, a goldsmith from Augsburg.


In 1143 Canons Regular descending from Mainz established the Weißenstein monastery at the site of present-day Schloss Wilhelmshöhe, which was dissolved in the course of the Protestant Reformation. Landgrave Philip I of Hesse used the remaining buildings as a hunting lodge, largely rebuilt by his descendant Maurice of Hesse-Kassel from 1606 to 1610.

1696 – 1806

The large fountain

The Bergpark came into being as a Baroque park under Landgrave Charles I of Hesse-Kassel. In 1701, the Italian architect Giovanni Francesco Guerniero started the construction of the Hercules monument and the giant cascades. In 1785, William I, Elector of Hesse started a large extension of the park, and the following year his architect, Simon Louis du Ry, created the classical palace Schloss Wilhelmshöhe.

Meanwhile, the ideals of the landscaping changed from the French Baroque to the English garden. In the course of the extension and modifications, Heinrich Christoph Jussow created constructions still characterizing the park today: artificial ruins like the Löwenburg (Lions Castle) and the Roman aqueduct, as well as extensions of the water garden like the Lac, the fountain pond, and the Teufelsbrücke (Devils Bridge) with the Höllenteich (Hells Pond). In 1793, Karl Steinhöfer added the Steinhöfer Waterfall to the water garden.

1806 – 1866

Kassel became capital of the newly created Kingdom of Westphalia, a vassal state of France, ruled by Napoleon's brother Jérôme Bonaparte. He kept court at the palace of Wilhelmshöhe (which was renamed Napoleonshöhe) till 1813, after Napoleon's defeat and the restoration of the electorate. The King's Head Chamberlain and governor of Napoleonshöhe was Count Heinrich von Blumenthal. In 1826, William II, Elector of Hesse ordered the last large construction of the Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe, the grosser Wasserfall (Great Waterfall).

1866 – 1918

Kaiser Wilhelm II in the Bergpark in 1906
Members of the German military headquarters, November 1918
Rembrandt's "Saskia"

Having sided with Austria in the Austro-Prussian War for supremacy in Germany, the principality was annexed by Prussia in 1866. The Prussian administration united Nassau, Frankfurt and Hesse-Kassel into the new Prussian province of Hesse-Nassau. Kassel ceased to be a princely residence, the dynasty of the creators of the Park ended.

In 1870 after the Battle of Sedan, Napoleon III was sent as a prisoner to the Schloss Wilhelmshöhe. From 1899 the German emperor Wilhelm II, who went to school in Kassel, chose Wilhelmshöhe as his summer residence, this made the castle and the park a centre of European politics for the next two decades. In 1918, after the defeat of Germany at the end of World War I, Paul von Hindenburg organized and led the withdrawal and demobilization of the German troops there.

Schloss Wilhelmshöhe

20th century – present

Schloss Wilhelmshöhe was bombed in WWII. From 1968 to 1974, it was rebuilt as an art museum. It houses a world-famous wallpaper collection, an important collection of Graeco-Roman antiques, and a fine gallery of paintings.[3] The collection focuses on the 16th and 17th century, containing masterpieces by German, Italian, French and Spanish painters. It comprises the second-largest collection of Rembrandts in Germany. Rembrandt's famous "Saskia" and "The Man with the Slouch Hat" by Frans Hals are two of many outstanding examples.

In 1972 the Chancellor of West Germany Willy Brandt and the Prime Minister of the German Democratic Republic Willi Stoph met in Schloss Wilhelmshöhe for negotiations between the two German states.

No extensions were made to the Park in the 20th century. Extensive renovations to the Herkules monument and cascades have been ongoing in the 21st century, and are still in progress; much of the monument continues to be shrouded in scaffolding.[4]


  • Giovanni Francesco Guerniero, Delineatio Montis, Cassel 1706
  • Paul Heidelbach, Die Geschichte der Wilhelmshöhe. Klinkhardt & Biermann, Leipzig, 1909
  • Horst Becker und Michael Karkosch, Park Wilhelmshöhe, Parkpflegewerk, Bad Homburg und Regensburg 2007, ISBN 978-3-7954-1901-1.
  • Verwaltung der Staatlichen Schlösser und Gärten Hessen, ComputerWorks AG und Michael Karkosch, Kassel-Wilhelmshöhe, Gartendenkmalpflegerische Zielplanung mit VectorWorks Landschaft, Lörrach 2007.
  • Bernd Modrow und Claudia Gröschel, Fürstliches Vergnügen, 400 Jahre Gartenkultur in Hessen, Verlag Schnell und Steiner, Bad Homburg und Regensburg 2002, ISBN 3-7954-1487-3.
  • Michael Karkosch, Zeitreise in die Jahrhundertwende, Der Kaiserpark Wilhelmshöhe in Kassel, in: SehensWerte, Heft 4, Besuchermagazin der Verwaltung der Staatlichen Schlösser und Gärten Hessen, Bad Homburg 2008, S. 28f.
  • Dunja Richter, Der Duft der großen weiten Welt, Wilhelminische Pflanzenhausarchitektur in Kassel, in: SehensWerte, Heft 4, Besuchermagazin der Verwaltung der Staatlichen Schlösser und Gärten Hessen, Bad Homburg 2008, S. 30.
  • Michael Karkosch, Zurückgelassen in der Heimat, Erdmann - Lieblingsteckel Seiner Majestät, in: SehensWerte, Heft 4, Besuchermagazin der Verwaltung der Staatlichen Schlösser und Gärten Hessen, Bad Homburg 2008, S. 35.
  • Siegfried Hoß, Kaiserliche Farbenpracht - neu entfacht!, in: SehensWerte, Heft 4, Besuchermagazin der Verwaltung der Staatlichen Schlösser und Gärten Hessen, Bad Homburg 2008, S. 42.
  • Marianne Bolbach, Geschichte und soziale Bedeutung des Bergparks Wilhelmshöhe, Kassel 1988.
  • Paul Heidelbach, Die Geschichte der Wilhelmshöhe, Leipzig 1909, Nachdruck, hrsg. v. Dieter Carl, Vellmar 2005.
  • Alfred Hoffmann und Herrmann Mielke. Kassel - Schlosspark Wilhelmshöhe - Bäume und Sträucher, hrsg. v. d. Verwaltung der Staatlichen Schlösser und Gärten Hessen, Bad Homburg 1994 (3. überarbeitete Aufl.).
  • Jutta Korsmeier, Wasserkünste im Schlosspark Wilhelmshöhe, hrsg. v. d. Verwaltung der Staatlichen Schlösser und Gärten Hessen, Bad Homburg und Regensburg 2000, ISBN 3-7954-1287-0.
  • Helmut Sander, Das Herkules-Bauwerk in Kassel-Wilhelmshöhe, Kassel 1981.


  1. ^ Schuhmann, Rainer (2004-04-08). "Die unendliche Baugeschichte des Kasseler Herkules". HR-Online (in German). Hessischer Rundfunk. Retrieved 2009-03-25. 
  2. ^ "Sites in Germany and Italy bring to 19 the number of sites inscribed on the World Heritage List this year". UNESCO World Heritage Organization. 2013-06-23. Retrieved 9 July 2013. 
  3. ^ "Museum Palace Wilhelmshöhe". Museumslandschaft Hessen Kassel (MHK). Retrieved 9 July 2013. 
  4. ^ "Herkules - a living myth". Kultur Portal - Hessen. Retrieved 9 July 2013. 


External links

  • Accompanying film for the UNESCO World Heritage nomination
  • Tom Galvin: Wilhelmshöhe - Mountain Goat and Cascade Lover's Paradise
  • Destinations Germany - Kassel, Places of Interest
  • City Map Kassel - The water arts at the foot of the Hercules.
  • - Panoramas of Bergpark & Schloss Wilhelmshoehe and the Hercules Monument & Cascades
  • Youtube - Illuminated water arts in Kassel at night
  • Youtube - Waterarts at in Kassel
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