Unlike most other historic parks, Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe is truly an "elevated" affair, as it was created for the local aristocracy on a hillside in Habichtswald forest, just outside Kassel's city gates. The Herkules monument at the top of the hill therefore lies approximately 230 altitude metres higher than Schloss Wilhelmshöhe palace. However, the Bergpark, which measures around 560 hectares (making it the largest of its kind in Europe), is not only very special due to its setting: look forward to a fascinating journey of discovery through a unique landscaped park full of attractions!
An adventure from top to bottom:
Welcome to the Bergpark!
Starting your exploration of the Bergpark from the top at the Herkules monument not only means a less arduous climb but also rewards you with breathtaking views across the whole of Kassel right at the beginning of the tour. This is precisely where Charles I, Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel, stood around 300 years ago – the monumental park was created at his instigation, along with the baroque water features that cascade downwards from here. His successors turned the area into a romantic landscaped park in the English fashion in the late 18th century, and extended the water features. However, the Bergpark also has many other attractions to offer: on a leisurely downhill stroll along the stair-like cascades, you will soon encounter the other spectacular displays in the world-famous sequence of water features that ends in front of Schloss Wilhelmshöhe palace with a huge fountain. That is also where you'll find the Alte Meister art gallery, one of Germany's most important art collections. In the palace's south wing, the so-called "Wessensteinflügel", you will be able to get a glimpse of the private quarters of Hesse's landgraves in this historic residence. A short walk from the palace will take you to the mock-mediaeval Löwenburg castle, their "summer house". Not least fascinating, the Bergpark features an unusually diverse range of more than 500 species of trees and shrubs. It is therefore not surprising that the UNESCO World Heritage Site Committee decided to inscribe the Bergpark on its World Heritage List in 2013.
All systems go! The baroque water feature displays
Every year from May to October, the baroque water feature displays make a spectacular splash in the Bergpark; an unmissable experience formerly reserved for the illustrious guests of the landgraves. The water rushes downhill from the Neptunbecken pool, via the cascades, the Steinhöfer waterfall, the Teufelsbrücke bridge and the aqueduct, to finally rise up 50 metres in a fountain, accompanied by the rapturous applause of the audience. Almost as impressive as the water features is the fact that the historic system is powered only by the water's gravity. By the way, each full run of the water feature displays calls for 750,000 litres of water. It is collected in large basins above the Bergpark fed exclusively by rainwater and natural inlets.
Herkules: Copper giant and Kassel's most famous landmark
“Permit me to introduce myself: Herkules! I have held what is undoubtedly the top position in the Bergpark for over 300 years now – admittedly, in a state of undress, but my physique is nothing to be ashamed of, wouldn't you agree? I was given the top-job by Charles I, Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel, who had me erected here in 1717 – on top of the steep pyramid that crowns the imposing octagon. Together with yours truly (I am 8.3 metres tall), the whole arrangement is 71 metres high. I can oversee everything from here, and I have also seen quite a few landgraves come and go over the years. However, aristocrats are few and far between these days – instead, many thousands of visitors come to the Bergpark every year just to admire me. Well, I suppose they might also come for the water features... I would be delighted to be able to welcome you here on top of my hill soon – I always enjoy meeting new people. So: see you soon at the Bergpark!“
Exciting adventures: Guided tours through the Bergpark
If you want to make sure that you catch the various features of the water feature displays in action and would also like to learn lots of interesting facts about the baroque spectacle, we recommend one of our guided tours that take place on all water feature display dates. Also exciting are our guided tours through the Bergpark, where you can learn more about the attractions in this extensive landscaped park in an entertaining way. Look forward to some fascinating insights and vistas, coupled with surprising snippets of information that will make you see and experience the Bergpark in a completely different light!