The Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe is a unique park in Kassel, Germany. The nestor of the modern historic preservation, Georg Dehio (1850–1932), described the park as “possibly the most grandiose combination of landscape and architecture that the Baroque dared anywhere” (“vielleicht das Grandioseste, was irgendwo der Barock in Verbindung von Architektur und Landschaft gewagt hat.”). The area of the park is 2.4 square kilometres (590 acres), making it the largest European hillside park, and second largest park on a mountain slope in the world. Construction of the Bergpark, or “mountain park”, began in 1696 and took about 150 years.
Just got back from an epic walk. I took the tram out to the ICE station where I arrived last week and walked up the hill to the Wilhelmshöhe, a giant park that was once the estate of the King of Westphalia, Jérôme Bonaparte (brother of Napoleon). It is built into the hill (or mountain really) and is landscaped like only a rich 18th century King could afford. It was so lavish that is bordered on the ridiculous; the entire hillside was designed with waterfalls, ponds, gardens, glens, open fields, and landscape architecture that looked like it was out of The Lord of The Rings. There was a castle to the side and an aqueduct to bring water to this giant man made waterfall system. Then there was the museum, Schloss Wilhelmshöhe, which was the dude’s mansion.
I walked up the hill to the Herkules monument which is this statue of Herkules on top of this pedestal overlooking a massive man-made waterfall system that feeds water down to this grotto. It was ridiculous. You can see the whole thing walking around town since it is at the top of the mountain to the west of the city center.
They designed the entire thing to have one massive line of sight from the Herkules statue through the museum, down the Wilhelmshoher boulevard into a focal point that creates an acute axis with another major park, one which I haven’t yet explored but looks sorta like the Boston Public Gardens. The whole experience is quite amazing. I figured it was just a tourist trap (which it kinda was) but it turned out to be one of the most lavish and wonderful parks I have ever experienced. Central Park is downright utilitarian compared to this.
On my way back I took a bus which I thought would get me back into the city but instead dropped me off on the back side of the mountain, requiring me to walk a few miles down the only road into town before I caught another bus to the tram station. The tram, the 3, goes from this park through the city center to the city line where I get off and take a bus to the town I am living in. I found out taking the tram it’s entire length what the nice parts of town are and what the dirty parts are.