Many European destinations are described as “something out of a fairytale,” but when it comes to the city of Kassel that’s not just a cliche.
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Located along Germany’s fairytale route made famous by the Brother’s Grimm, this spot two hours north of Frankfurt draws visitors in search of history, culture and beautiful architecture.
Best of all, you only have to go one place to find it all: Wilhelmshöhe Park, which is one of the best things to do in Kassel, Germany.
Wilhelmshöhe Park in Kassel
Bergpark Wilhelmshöh (“mountain park”) boasts an embarrassment of riches, including a towering monument, greenhouse, waterfalls, loads of lush green space, walking trails, a museum and not one but two castles.
The 560-hectare site was also designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2013–the world’s first mountain park to receive that honour.
It may sound like a lot to take in, but with a good pair of walking shoes it’s easy to explore the highlights in just half a day. Here are the best places to visit in Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe.
The crown jewel of the entire park is the Hercules Monument, which is impossible to miss.
The eight-metre high, copper monument was designed back in the 1700s by an Italian builder, to symbolize the virtues of famous Hercules.
Directly in front of it is a visitor’s platform overlooking not only Wilhelmshöhe Park but also the whole city of Kassel, and it’s hard to beat the birds-eye view of the dozens of stone steps framed by waterfalls that stretch towards the city.
Park Wilhelmshöhe water display
While the monument is a spectacle in itself (unless it’s covered in scaffolding, which sadly it has been for many years due to restoration efforts), the real draw is the water display.
On Wednesdays, Sundays and holidays from May to October, more than 750-thousand litres of water rush down the hillside towards the Grand Fountain at the base, where jets then shoot it 550 metres high into the sky.
Incredibly, the trick fountain has relied solely on the laws of gravity for the past 300 years and doesn’t use water pumps.
Once per month the spectacle is also illuminated, which makes it even more breathtaking.
Castles in Wilhelmshöhe Park
There aren’t too many places you can find not one but two castles smack dab in the middle of a park, but Wilhelmshöhe Park delivers on that front as well. No surprise, in a city named Kassel!
The first one most visitors will see is Wilhelmshöhe Castle which is near the base and is made up of three wings.
Built in 1786, the castle contains an art gallery, antique collection and historical museum with rooms full of original furnishings. Visitors can see all of them during a guided tour, which costs €6.
The other castle is beautiful Löwenburg Castle (‘Lion Castle’), a handsome, sandstone masterpiece which looks like something out of a storybook.
Completed in 1801 as one of Europe’s first pseudo-medieval castle ruins, it housed royal apartments and an armoury which can also be seen during a guided tour.
There’s also a neo-Gothic chapel, complete with a crypt where the lord of the castle was laid to rest.
While there is an entrance fee for certain exhibits, some parts of the castle and the exterior can be explored for free.
The Glasshouse in Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe
While most people walk through the Glasshouse, I enjoyed it from a different angle: sitting on the floor for two hours. Yup, my time at the greenhouse was actually spent at an Indian wedding!
Needless to say, the leafy greenery and huge bright windows were the perfect backdrop for a beautiful ceremony, which is why it’s a popular place for couples in Kassel to tie the knot.
If you happen to visit during a summer weekend, expect to see at least a few newlyweds posing in the English landscape gardens outside, trailed by a photographer or wedding party.
Built out of steel and glass, the greenhouse is stunning both inside and out and houses many tropical and exotic plants.
During the winter the plants are cultivated inside, then moved outside in the springtime as per tradition.
FAQ for visiting Wilhelmshöhe Park in Kassel, Germany
How to get to Wilhelmshöhe Park: There are good public transportation options in Kassel that drop visitors off at the entrance, otherwise those with a car or on a tour can drive all the way up to the Hercules monument.
It’s possible to walk through the entire park, and takes about 30-45 minutes without stopping.
Opening hours and admission: Entrance times and fees are unique to each venue (with most closed on Mondays) so check here for up-to-date information before heading to the park.
When to go: The busiest season with warmest weather is from May through October, which is when the water show is also on. However, it’s also beautiful in winter when everything is frozen over.
What to bring: Be sure to wear comfortable shoes with good grip if you plan to walk up to or down from the Hercules monument, as the path is steep and not paved in some places.
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