The Orangerie was first built from 1701 to 1710, in a large formal garden in the French style.
Like most buildings in Kassel, the Orangerie was largely destroyed during the Second World War, and it was still more or less a ruin when it was used as the setting for Documenta 2 in 1959. Restoration was not completed until 1981.
Since 1992 the Orangerie has been the home of the Planetarium and the Museum for Astronomy and the History of Technology, (I remember going there with one of my children shortly after the opening.)
Opening hours are Tuesday through Sunday, 10:00 to 17:00.
The Hercules is the landmark of Kassel, overlooking the city from the top of the forest "Habichtswald".
Originally, the statue was not planned to be on top of the 'Oktogon', the octagonal stone structure that is underneath his feet. It was not until 1713 (three years after the Oktogon has been completed) that the decision was made to build a statue on top of it.
Since then, however, it was a clear landmark of the city of Kassel, visible from a far disctance and attracting thousands of tourists as well as locals year by year.
Details of the statue:
Height : 9.20m
Length of club : 4.90m
Circumference of biceps : 2.20m
Absolute altitude : 596m
On the weekends, visitors can enter the Oktogon, climb up to the statue and enjoy the gorgeous view across Kassel!
Another attraction in Kassel-Wilhelmshoehe:
Built in between 1793 to 1806, the Lions Castle (Loewenburg) was built as an imitation of a mediavel knight's castle... deliberately built as a ruin.
It now houses a collection of old weapons and china.
Construction of the Orangerie in Kassel's Karlsaue (Aue Park) started in 1702.
Completed in 1710, it used to be the summer residency of landgrave Karl von Hessen-Kassel.
During World War II, it was almost completely destroyed. After reconstruction, the museum for astronomy and technical history opened in 1992. It also includes a Planetarium and coffee-house.
Adjacent to the Orangerie is the large Aue Park (please refer to the next tip)
Kassel's famous park Wilhelmshöhe is not only the biggest hillside park of Europe (yep, just another record!), it is also famous for its water games, taking place every Wednesday, Sunday and public holiday from the Ascension of Christ (May/June) to October, 3, at 2.30pm. The water games are a must - there are no excuses to miss them! They start at the highest point of the Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe: the Herkules. From there on the water flows down dozens of cascades until it reaches a lake at the lower end of the cascades. It vanishes into an underground pipe system and sees daylight again further down the hill. There it flows past the Devil's Bridge with its creepy looks towards the aqueduct. The aqueduct ends in thin air, thus the water falls down some 15m in a spectacular waterfall. Now, there are only some meters left until it reaches another lake in which it erupts in a more than 50m high fountain which lasts for about five minutes!
The great thing about the water games is that they work without any modern technology - it's just the water power itself that forces the fountain to erupt, supported by the downhill terrain, of course. Furthermore, an ingenious system makes it possible to walk down the hill with the water. On the cascades, it flows very slowly anyway, so that children and daring adults enjoy running in front of it. Later on, walking down the hill will ensure that you can see the water at all the important places.
The water games are very popular by tourists and locals alike. Make sure to come early as you will have to hike up the park until the cascades (ca. 45 minutes). Make sure to bring a camera. And make sure to walk with the water - you will never forget this view!
The best view on Kassel is from Herkules. You discover the cascades, a little bit further Schloss Wilhelmshoehe, then your view wanders over the city centre... This is beautiful at daytime, but guess how wonderful it is during the night when millions of lights are flickering in the valley. It's certainly the most romantic place to be at night.
Kassel is well-known to be one of the greenest cities in Germany. 62 % of its area are parks, forests or gardens! If you are in the centre of Kassel (i.e. the Koenigsstrasse), you should not miss exploring the nearby baroque park Karlsaue. It's only some 300m away. Cross the Friedrichsplatz and pass by the Fridericianum (an interesting museum, btw), cross the Steinweg road and follow the paths towards what looks like a giant picture frame - it's a piece of art from a documenta years ago. From this frame, you can get a first glimpse on the Karlsaue. Go down the stairs and you'll see a big yellow building, Kassel's orangery. Next to the building is the marble bath. Inside, you'll find a planetarium, which is really interesting. If you stand in front of the orangery, you'll see a vast meadow, the so-called Karlswiese. In summertime, it's full of people playing football or badminton, or just having a picnic. From the Karslwiese, two long ditches extend towards a beautiful lake. Stroll along these ditches, it's a nice walk. When you've reached the lake, go on further until you come to another lake with an island in the middle. The island is called Siebenbergen, and it's especially beautiful in spring, when it's full of flowers.
Now turn to the left and cross the street until you reach the river Fulda. Look for the bridge and cross it. You now reach the Fuldaaue, another big park. It's been the main site of the 1955 Bundesgartenschau (i.e. a garden exhibition -I believe it was in 1955). Today, it's a good place to spend your evening with a barbecue or a swim in one of the lakes. There's also a sports area on the river, where rowing and other water sports are possible.
By the way, in summertime every Tuesday evening the parks are full of inline-skaters as there's an organized skating circuit once a week.
As described on other pages, this is the crown in the jewel of the Bergpark Wilhelmshoehe in Kassel.
The monument can be seen throughout most of Kassel, as this is the highest point in the city in the Habichtswald. (Hawks' Forest).
The Oktigon was built in 1701-1713 by Landburgher Karl von Hesse-Kassel as a palace to the Wind. It is about 200 feet (60+ meters) high. In 1717, the 25 foot (8.25m) Statue of Herkules to commemorate strength and protection of the poor was added to the top. It is a replica of the original made by Benvenuto Cellini.
As I caution in my tip, it is a steep climb up, so be careful if you may have averse effects from strenuous activity! There are many terraces along the waterfall run to stop and rest and along the hiking trails throughout the park are benches, rest areas and places to get some food or drink. If you enjoy this location, take your time and take everything in!
The Bergpark Wilhelmshoehe is inside the larger Habichtswald (Hawks' Forest). The pathways up to the Oktigon and Herkules Statue wend through this forest. It is said, there are over 600 varieties of trees in the forest.
This place is the most amazing park I've seen, if you read the lead page for Kassel, I give a pretty fair description of what this park contains. The vistas are gorgeous and the waterfall is amazing! I definitely could spend much more time here than I did and not become bored! It is a work out walking up to the Hercules monument!
Built in 1786 by landgrave Wilhelm IX., the castle of Wilhelmshoehe (Schloss Wilhelmshoehe) was used as summer residency by the two German emperor's Wilhelm I. and Wilhelm II.
These days, the castle houses a collection of art and antique furniture and functions as one of the city's museums.
During New Year's Eve, hundreds of citizens gather in front of the castle's entrance to celebrate the new year and watch the fireworks.
If you are visiting Herkules, don't walk straight down the hill to Schloss Wilhelmshohe. Instead take the route down the right hand side and you will encounter the beautiful Schloss Lowenburg (Lion Castle) that will almost appear out of the trees.
It is modelled on a medieval Scottish castle and is definitely worth a visit. You will find an outdoor maze adjacent to the castle that is also a bit of fun. Inside the castle there is a museum of arnaments and a museum of chivalry which are both worth a look.
Herkules stands about 600m above sea level and the 2 Euro fee to climb to the top of the statue is well worth the awesome 360 degree view.
If you happen to time your visit to Kassel between April and November then you can witness the amazing Wasserspeil. On Wednesday and Sunday's at 2:30pm during this time you can see the water cascade down the hill culminating in a 52m high fountain of water at the bottom. Definitely worth a visit.
Kassel suffered a lot from the Allied bombing between 1943 and 1945. About 95% of the city was destroyed. In the 1950s the city was rebuilt in a very modern style and only a few buildings were reconstructed to its old glamour. However, today Kassel is a great place for shopping. One shopping mall to another one, huge department stores and nice shops invite for spending money.
At the Friedrichsplatz is the State Theatre, the Documenta Hall and the Friedricianum. The staute shows landgrave Friedrich II. Below this square is one of Kassels largest underground parking garage.
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