Fernweh Close to Home: Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe

Fernweh [ˈfɛrnveː] Literally “farsickness” or “longing for far-off places” (Source)

It is no exaggeration when I say that my mind is always up in the clouds, dreaming of far-away places. Now that the summer break is in full swing, people tend ask me repeatedly if I have anything planned. Because of my trip to London earlier this year and my plans for 2016 (and the interrelated money saving), I haven’t planned anything. However, recently I’ve realized that there are so many (affordable) things to do in my home state Hessen alone that I don’t need to go to far-away places to enjoy summer and please my Fernweh and Wanderlust.

Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe in Kassel

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You can find me going for a stroll in Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe several times a year, usually once in spring, summer, and autumn. When I do so, I’ll listen to The Fellowship of the Ring soundtrack and pretend that I’m exploring Middle-earth and not North Hessen.

Build in several construction phases in the 18th century, Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe is with its 2.4 square kilometres (590 acres) Europe’s largest hillside park and was added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2013. In contrast to the Karlsaue Park, another famous park in Kassel, Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe feels more natural, less artificially constructed even though Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe is as man-made as Karlsaue Park.

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One of the first things you’ll notice about Kassel, even from afar, is the Hercules monument located at the top of the hillside park. The Hercules monument itself is 70,5 m tall and 526 m above sea level. You can climb all the way up right beneath his feet and if you manage to survive all the steps (over 200 all the way to the top) you’ll be rewarded with a magnificent panorama view of Kassel. It is up to you whether you explore the park starting at the Hercules monument and going downhill or whether you start at the Wilhelmshöhe Castle and make your way uphill.

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Wilhelmshöhe Castle

No matter where you start, I highly recommend a stop at Wilhelmshöhe Castle where you’ll be able to enjoy a large antiquities collection and one of the world’s largest Rembrandt collections.

There is no route one has to take when exploring the park. There are simply too many beautiful spots to explore. During the summer one can enjoy the famous Wasserspiele (“Waterfeatures) where spectacular water displays take place. The best way to explore Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe is when strolling aimlessly around. Whether the Teufelsbrücke (Devil’s Bridge), the Pluto Grotte (Pluto’s Grotto), or the Löwenburg (Lioncastle), you’ll need several hours to explore even the most famous parts of the park.

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Fun fact: Even though the Löwenburg looks like an authentic medieval castle, it is not one. The Löwenburg was build around the same time as the rest of the park and was deliberately build to look like the ruins of a medieval castle. 

I could post dozens of photos, but none would give you even a small impression of the park’s size and beauty, but I managed to find a video that manages to do that. So, enjoy!

How to get there

If you arrive by car, there are several parking lots located around the park which makes it easier for you to decide whether you want to start your exploration uphill or downhill. If you arrive via public transport, the best way to get to Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe with the tram No 1. The tram No 1 can be reached from the city centre as well as from train station Wilhelmshöhe.

If you happen to plan a trip to Kassel and Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe, check out kassel.de!


4 thoughts on “Fernweh Close to Home: Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe

  1. what you mentioned about wilhelmshoehe looking more natural despite being just as artificial reminded me of what schopenhauer wrote about the art of landscaping. his main point is artworks making available ‘the idea’ of the things they display – therefore different forms of art being more or less suitable for expressing different things. (literature is much more apt for expressing the individual inner life of a person than painting is. but painting & sculpture win out at showing the outwardly visible shape and form that characterises a genus)

    in landscaping, he favours the english gardens, like wilhelmshoehe, over the geometric french baroque gardens because the former express an ideal landscape (complete with fake-old buildings to enhance the scenery!), while the latter use landscape to express forms and shapes someone thought up, but have nothing natural about them.

    err, philosophy excursion aside, your PR game is really strong. the photos you were posting had me look up the park already, and now you’re telling me there’s even a rembrandt collection? you are right, though – summer break is an ideal time for a trip, and it isn’t even far! (google maps has it at ~200km, that’s too close for never having been there) i should really try picking a date, pack up my sketching stuff, and drive up there.

    Liked by 1 person

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