Kassel is home to the 38th UNESCO World Heritage site in Germany: Wilhelmshöhe Park was added to the famous list of world cultural and natural heritage sites on 23 June 2013. The UNESCO World Heritage committee paid tribute to Wilhelmshöhe Park as a unique baroque fusion of art , technology and architecture.
Landgrave Karl of Hesse-Kassel's love for Italy crystallised when he set eyes upon the monumental statue of Hercules in Rome. The task of turning the Landgrave's dream into reality fell to an architect from Rome called Giovanni Francesco Guerniero, who created this magnificent estate in the Habichtswald hills between 1701 and 1711. Towering atop a steep 527-metre hill is an octagonal monument crowned by the famous Hercules statue. This figure of the classical virtuous hero came to symbolise the Landgrave himself and provided the inspiration for the Hermann the Cheruscan Monument in the Teutoburg Forest and the Statue of Liberty in New York. Beneath the statue, water gushes down a magnificent cascade, passing plateaus and grottos before emptying into the 'Neptune basin'. In 1785 Elector Wilhelm I set about transforming the surrounding scenery into the romantic wooded park we see today, with its water features, embankments and bridges. Due to its sheer size, its extensive network of paths, and the influence of the weather and seasons, the park offers constantly changing vistas and new impressions, even for those who have been coming for years. On Wednesdays and Sundays during the summer, visitors flock to see the fountain displays, which are festively illuminated on the first Saturday of the month. Named after Elector Wilhelm I, Wilhelmshöhe Palace was built between 1786 and 1798. Its fully intact Weissenstein Wing boasts royal apartments with exquisite furnishings in the Empire and classical styles, a luxurious bathing room and paintings by Johannes Heinrich Tischbein. The refurbished central section of the palace now serves as a museum featuring a fine collection of paintings by the Old Masters.
A short distance away in Kassel is a German rococo gem in the form of Wilhelmsthal Palace, 50 years older than Wilhelmshöhe and with a landscaped garden. Kassel also marks the middle point of the 600km German Fairytale Route, which links towns, cities and countryside associated with the Brothers Grimm and their stories.