Fascination, art, pleasures and contrasts
Europe's biggest formal hillside park, the fairy tale legacy of the Grimm brothers, and the third-highest level of museum density in Germany: Kassel is a city of fascinating diversity – and two of its attractions have already been honoured with the title of UNESCO World Heritage Site. With its palaces, parks and valuable works of art, the former residence of the landgraves of Hesse allows exciting glimpses of the past. At the same time, Kassel is known all over the world as a major centre for contemporary art. Wow!
Breathtaking views: Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe
The formal hillside park Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe is the biggest of its kind in Europe. Its magnificent baroque water features, the imposing Hercules monument and the unique landscaped grounds did not only impress the UNESCO World Heritage Committee – you, too, will experience plenty of "Wow!" moments here that you will remember forever, not least also in the Alte Meister art gallery in Schloss Wilhelmshöhe palace, one of Germany's most important art collections.
Kassel is also an officially recognised spa town; its spa district begins directly in front of the entrance to the Bergpark: In Bad Wilhelmshöhe, you can relax and also recharge your batteries – for your everyday life, or for your next exploration of the city of Kassel. The ICE intercity railway station Kassel is only a short walk away; travelling by train is a relaxed way of getting here.
Old masters and modern art
From the Alte Meister art gallery to the GRIMMWELT museum and the Museum for Sepulchral Culture: Fourteen museums and numerous exhibitions and galleries make Kassel a must for anyone interested in culture and the arts. Of course, this also includes the documenta, the most important contemporary art exhibition in the world, which attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors to Kassel every five years. How about a picnic beneath a pickaxe that is twelve metres high, or a view of the Orangery framed by a huge picture frame? The cityscape is shaped by numerous permanent documenta outdoor exhibits that are worth exploring. You will also love the GRIMMWELT museum, which opened in 2015: It brings the lives and work of the Grimm brothers, who wrote down their world-famous fairy tales in Kassel, to life. The British newspaper The Guardian even included the museum on top of Weinberg hill in its list of the world's ten best new museums in 2016.
Magnificent buildings and 1950s charm
Kassel's architecture is also multi-faceted and full of contrasts. Many of the buildings in the city centre, for example, are now considered icons of 1950s architecture – for instance the buildings along Treppenstrasse, Germany's first pedestrian zone. It's not surprising that at the time, Kassel was considered one of the most modern cities in what was then the only recently founded Federal Republic of Germany. The curved staircase in the AOK building on Friedrichsplatz square also dates from this era and is still impressive today. Only a few steps away, the buildings give way to views across Karlsaue park and the Orangery, one of the many imposing examples of baroque architecture in the city that was once the residence of the landgraves of Hesse. However, there are also award-winning examples of contemporary architecture, for example in Unterneustadt on the eastern banks of the Fulda river, where a modern urban quarter has been created. The city's Vorderer Westen district is characterised by magnificent Art Nouveau buildings. It is a very popular place to live for students and young families, not least because of its many cafes and small shops.
The great outdoors in and around Kassel
Did you know that Kassel is Germany's fourth-greenest city? Parks and green spaces cover more than 63 per cent of the city area. Kassel can thank the landgraves of Hesse for the largest ones of these: They created Karlsaue park around the Orangery and also the Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe park, which has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2013. Together with the former BuGa national flower show grounds on the opposite banks of the Fulda river, it forms one of Germany's most beautiful local recreational areas. Schloss Schönfeld palace is located right in the city centre. It is surrounded by a landscaped park of the same name that features numerous small ponds and streams and also has plenty to offer in culinary terms. Kassel is surrounded by the magical and densely forested low mountain landscape of the Mittelgebirge region that is perfect for extended walking and hiking tours – for example the Nationalpark Kellerwald-Edersee, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its unique beech forests.
Kassel is a prime example of the fact that opposites not only attract but can also be extremely attractive, as it is precisely the many contrasts that make a visit to the documenta city so exciting. They are revealed in its architecture and the cityscape, where buildings from many different periods sit cheek by jowl. Kassel's cultural and museum landscape is no exception; it easily moves between antiquity and modern times. Kassel is and always has been open towards anything that's new; it is therefore the perfect destination for people who long for new impressions, stimulation and perspectives. Kassel is a blend of the modern and lively university city it is today and its glorious past as the historic residence of Hesse's landgraves. Nature in harmony with unique, perfectly landscaped grounds. World Heritage meets innovative future technologies. Embrace this impressive diversity: You will be amazed – and you, too, are bound to have plenty of memorable "Wow!" experiences!