See sites of royal splendour in Germany
Covering 240 hectares in the north Hessen city of Kassel, baroque Wilhelmshöhe Park is designed in the style of an English landscape garden and is Europe's largest hillside park. Together with Wilhelmshöhe Palace, it forms a unique whole that combines culture, nature and landscape architecture in perfect harmony.
Kassel's Wilhelmshöhe Park is a baroque creation in which developments in the art, technology and landscape design movements of the time can be discerned. The 300-year-old topography exemplifies the coming of age of landscape architecture in absolutist Europe. It dates from 1696 when Landgrave Karl of Hesse-Kassel aimed to elevate the Kassel princes over the other ruling houses of the day. In 1701 Italian master builder Giovanni Francesco Guerniero added large parts of the water features, which in 1717 were crowned with a statue of Hercules that dominates all it surveys. This mighty copper figure is designed to symbolise the virtues of a wise and just ruler and the omnipotence of the Landgrave himself.
At the foot of the 70-metre plinth a unique spectacle is played out. Over 750,000 litres of water rush down a total of twelve kilometres of water features towards the Grand Fountain in the Palace Pond, where the water jets 52 metres into the air under the force of natural pressure. Lit up in the evenings, the cascades and fountains between the Hercules monument and Wilhelmshöhe Palace are a sight to behold. Significant art can also be found in the palace itself. Severely damaged in the Second World War, the building was restored as a museum and opened to the public in 1974. With its old masters gallery, antiquities collection and collection of prints and drawings, it is one of the main attractions at Wilhelmshöhe Park.
Wilhelmshöhe visitor centre: April to October: Tuesday to Sunday and public holidays 10am to 5pm; November to March: Saturday, Sunday and public holidays 10am to 4pm
Hercules visitor centre: 10am to 5pm daily
Museum at Wilhelmshöhe Palace
Tuesday to Sunday 10am to 5pm, Wednesday 10am to 8pm
Wilhelmshöhe Park and water features: open all year round with water features operating from 1 May to 3 October on Sundays, Wednesdays and public holidays from 2.30pm; water features illuminated on the first Saturday of every month.
The Hercules monument is expected to remain closed until 15 March 2014 for maintenance work to the visitor platform.
300th anniversary of the water features (June 2014)
Further information: www.museum-kassel.de
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