One of the biggest attractions in Kassel is Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe. Since 2013, it has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which, in addition to Wilhelmshöhe Palace with its art collections and the artificial ruin of Löwenburg Castle, it owes primarily to the gigantic water features that have been demonstrating the elemental force of nature in an inimitable way for 300 years now. Beginning in 1689, Landgrave Karl of Hesse-Kassel, inspired by the dramatic topography of the site, designed the Baroque Bergpark. Later, his grandson Wilhelm I continued to build. All together, it remains to this day a unique testimony to the former creative power of European absolutism. During the summer months, more than 750,000 liters of water cascade down the mountain every Wednesday and Sunday afternoon (as well as on public holidays) during each water show. The water covers about 2.3 kilometers on its way through the park. Each water display is staged for about 10 minutes. After that, there is enough time to walk to the next station. We present you the most important stations.
Start of the big show is at 2:30 p.m. high above Kassel at the statue of Hercules. The Greek demigod stands on top of a pyramid, which in turn is enthroned on an octagon, the so-called giant castle. At the foot of the octagonal structure is the Vexier water grotto with the artichoke basin. Here the water arts begin with fountains in the artichoke basin and the crooked cascades. In the niches of the grotto there are statues of mythical figures that signal the beginning with their horns. Like the bubbling of the fountains, the sound of the horns is produced by natural water pressure. One level below, the giant head pool awaits you, from which the stone head of the giant Encelados spews a twelve-meter-high fountain.
Over a 210 meter long and twelve-meter-wide cascade system, the water then flows from the giant head pool through three oval pools down to the Neptune Basin. If you manage to arrive at the Neptune Basin before the water, you can still make out the statue of the Roman god of the sea, otherwise it will be obscured by the falling floods. The section that the water takes from Hercules over the Cascades to the Neptune Basin is also called the "Baroque Water Games".
Named after the "architect of the water arts, Karl Steinhöfer, the waterfall is part of the system supplying the romantic water arts, which include the Devil's Bridge, the Aqueduct and the Great Fountain. During the staging, the rocks that are gradually washed over are reminiscent of a former quarry that is now being reclaimed by nature.
Next stop is the 1792/93 Devil's Bridge built by Heinrich Christoph Jussow. Originally built of wood, the metal construction spans the Hell Pond at a height of ten meters since 1826. The names Devil's Bridge and Hell Pond recall Pluto, the Roman god of the underworld, and the nearby grotto named after him.
As a ruin of a former Roman Water conduit built, the aqueduct breaks abruptly after the fourteenth of its high arches, dropping the incoming water here 30 meters. This makes it the highest artificial waterfall in an artistically designed garden to this day. Debris placed at the foot of the aqueduct gives the impression of a once intact structure and reminds us of the constant conflict between nature and technology. The water then flows over the Peneus Cascades past the Jussow Temple into the fountain pond.
Here find the water games its brilliant conclusion. For ten minutes, a 52-meter-high column of water shoots up into the sky in the natural-appearing pond. The water for this unique spectacle comes from the fountain reservoir 80 meters higher up. It then flows over man-made but natural-looking waterfalls to the castle pond, the so-called "Lac," and from there through underground pipes into the Fulda.
By train comfortably and without traffic jams to Wilhelmshöhe: Plan arrival.
Cover photo: Not to be missed - the water games in Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe © Stefan Kaulbarsch - stock.adobe.com
Hiking through quiet low mountain ranges, old beech forests or orchards, paddling on the Lahn, looking at the most beautiful medieval half-timbered houses and soaking up the atmosphere of historic spas - Hessen makes romantic souls happy all around. But gourmets also get their money's worth on wine hikes, in Hessian butcher shops and with "Handkäs mit Musik", a pickled cheese. Reasons for a Vacation in Hesse there are enough!
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