The famous philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche once said: “The greatest events are not our noisiest but our stillest hours.“ Kassel and its fairy tale surroundings offer the perfect conditions for clearing your mind, taking a deep breath and taking some time off to relax properly. Visiting a spa is like a short break holiday, and going for a walk in one of the city's extensive parks will soon make you forget your stressful everyday life...
The formal hillside park Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe is the same size as around 350 football pitches and therefore the biggest of its kind in Europe – and never fails to inspire visitors with its attractions: Kassel's most famous landmark, the fascinating Hercules monument, is located at the park's highest point. From there, the park's magnificent baroque water features cascade down to Schloss Wilhelmshöhe palace, where 500 masterpieces of European painting are on display. The Löwenburg, one of the first pseudo-mediaeval castle ruins in Europe, is close by. More than 500 different varieties of trees and shrubs grow in the Bergpark. It is therefore not surprising that the UNESCO World Heritage Site Committee decided to inscribe the Bergpark on its World Heritage List in 2013. By the way: The park's seven fitness trails allow you to combine your tour of the Bergpark's main attractions with gentle cardiovascular exercise!
A park as big as a country? A park like that can only be found in Kassel! The Karlsaue park extends over 125 hectares and is therefore roughly the same size as the Principality of Monaco. It offers plenty of space for some relaxing time out away from the hustle and bustle of the city – even though it is only a few minutes' walk away from its centre. Besides the Bergpark, Kassel's green lung Karlsaue is the city's second great historic landscaped park and a popular local recreational area. Idyllic paths lead from the baroque Orangery palace, which is home to a permanent astronomy and physics exhibition, through a striking landscaped park along canal-like bodies of standing water and numerous man-made ponds. At the southern end of the park, you will find an often photographed landmark: The temple on Schwaneninsel island in the Aueteich pond with the "flower island" Siebenbergen in the background. In springtime, Siebenbergen is covered in a colourful sea of flowers.
Fuldaaue park is located directly opposite Karlsaue park on the other side of the river and is a popular leisure time destination, especially in summer. The parks are connected to each other by two pedestrian bridges. Together, they form one of the biggest city centre recreation areas in Germany. Fuldaaue park was created in the late 1970s for the national flower show ("Bundesgartenschau"), which is why the locals tend to call it the "BUGA". Here, you will find the perfect conditions for relaxing barbecue evenings, extended walks or sports activities. The "Buga lake" boasts several beaches and in the summer, it is the perfect place for a refreshing dip. Its northern part is a designated nature conservation area. It is a refuge for endangered water bird species.
The Fuldaufer promenade
The Auedamm promenade runs parallel to Karlsaue park along the Fulda river. The Auedamm also has the perfect conditions for relaxed walks to offer, as well as numerous establishments serving food and drink. Benches along the promenade that overlook the river invite you to sit down and relax, or watch the boats go by. If you follow the path further in a northern direction, you cannot fail to come across one of the most famous documenta outdoor exhibits: An oversized pickaxe right next to the banks of the river, created by Claes Oldenburg in 1982. At the time, the artist also invented a story to go with his work: He maintained that Hercules had thrown the pickaxe from the top of the Bergpark all the way to the banks of the river Fulda, where it has remained stuck in the grass ever since...
Park Schönfeld is a green refuge where you can escape the hustle and bustle of the city. Go for a stroll beneath its old chestnut trees and unwind. In the spring, the many colourful rhododendrons are beautiful to look at, whilst a charming "sound path" allows walkers to have fun with different sounds. The green connection between Habichtswald and Fuldaaue is also home to four idyllically situated ponds. In the summer, the largest of these becomes the Grimm Brothers Festival venue, an event that has been held every year since 2014: Musicals based on the brothers' famous fairy tales are performed on a stage set in the lake opposite the natural stone stands on its banks. Schloss Schönfeld palace is located in the centre of the park on Lengberg hill. It was built in 1777 and used as a summer residence by many of the local rulers and aristocrats. Today, it houses a restaurant that serves culinary delights in a stylish ambience. Kassel's botanical gardens are located right next to the palace. They consist of several themed gardens and also boast a cactus greenhouse.
Nature conservation area Dönche
A nature conservation area in the middle of the city that is even home to several herds of sheep? Of course, this can also be found in Kassel! The Dönche is one of the most extensive inner city green spaces in Germany, and provides a safe refuge for many species of flora and fauna. You might be able to spot foxes, hares and wild rabbits here, as well as deer and common buzzards. The Dönche's landscape is defined by ponds, reeds and meadows full of tall perennials, as well as alder and ash trees that grow mainly along the banks of the Dönchebach and Krebsbach streams. The nature conservation area is criss-crossed by numerous walking and hiking trails that make the Dönche a completely undeveloped local recreational area and valuable relaxation space. Domestic sheep and cattle are allowed to graze in the Dönche to ensure that its unusual open landscape character is maintained.
Schloss Wilhelmsthal park
Around ten kilometres away from Kassel's city centre, you will find one of the region's most important rococo palaces: Schloss Wilhelmsthal, which forms an elegant ensemble together with the park of the same name in which it is located. Its interior can be viewed on daily guided tours. An extended walk through the charming palace grounds is also a worthwhile undertaking: The landscaped park runs along a low valley and was created in 1750 in the rococo style. It features ponds, woods and an artificial ruin in the form of a Gothic revival style lookout tower. A canal with water features and a grotto decorated with shells and glass can also be discovered here. It was once used as an icehouse. The park has belonged to the European Garden Heritage Network since 2009.
Pure relaxation: Kurhessen Therme spa
Kassel's spa district is only a few steps away from the Bergpark: Bad Wilhelmshöhe, which even has its own road sign. Its central spa facility is the Kurhessen Therme. The Kurhessen Therme spa pools extend over more than 1,200 square metres and contain natural brine that is around 31 to 37 degrees Celsius hot. The spa and fitness facilities offer relaxation in a unique Far East atmosphere. The pool area has whirlpools, massage jets, whirlpool loungers and a restaurant to offer, whilst the extensive sauna world features eight differently themed saunas that offer sauna experiences to suit all tastes. How about a refreshing dip in the outdoor pool or a drink at the sauna bar afterwards? The facilities also include a fragrance garden, a steam bath, a brine grotto and various solariums, and a water slide that is 106 metres long and great fun not only for children. Here, you are bound to exclaim "Wow!Kassel" in a more languorous and totally relaxed way!