Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe

The Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe is a unique park in Kassel, Germany. Art historian Georg Dehio (1850–1932), inspirator of the modern discipline of historic preservation, 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.

History
1696 – 1806

The Bergpark came into being as a Baroque park under Charles I, Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel. In 1701, the Italian architect Giovanni Francesco Guerniero started the construction of the Hercules Monument and the giant cascades. In 1785, William I, Elector of Hesse started a large extension of the park, and the following year his architect, Simon Louis du Ry, created the classical palace Schloss Wilhelmshöhe. Meanwhile, the ideals of the landscaping changed from the French Baroque to the English garden. In the course of the extension and modifications, Heinrich Christoph Jussow created constructions still characterizing the park today: artificial ruins like the Löwenburg (Lions Castle) and the Roman aqueduct, as well as extensions of the water garden like the Lac, the fountain pond, and the Teufelsbrücke (Devils Bridge) with the Höllenteich (Hells Pond). In 1793, Karl Steinhöfer added the Steinhöfer Waterfall to the water garden.

1806 – 1866

Kassel became capital of the newly created Kingdom of Westphalia, a vassal state of France, ruled by Napoleon's brother Jérôme Bonaparte. He kept court at the palace of Wilhelmshöhe (which was re-named Napoleonshöhe) till 1813, after Napoleon's defeat and the restoration of the electorate. The King's Head Chamberlain and governor of Napoleonshöhe was Count Heinrich von Blumenthal. In 1826, William II, Elector of Hesse ordered the last large construction of the Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe, the grosser Wasserfall (Great Waterfall).

1866 – 1918

Having sided with Austria in the Austro-Prussian War for supremacy in Germany, the principality was annexed by Prussia in 1866. The Prussian administration united Nassau, Frankfurt and Hesse-Kassel into the new Prussian province of Hesse-Nassau. Kassel ceased to be a princely residence, the dynasty of the creators of the Park ended.

In 1870 after the Battle of Sedan, Napoleon III was sent as a prisoner to the Schloss Wilhelmshöhe. From 1899 the German emperor Wilhelm II, who went to school in Kassel, chose Wilhelmshöhe as his summer residence, this made the castle and the park a centre of European politics for the next two decades. In 1918, after the defeat of Germany at the end of World War I, Paul von Hindenburg organized and led the withdrawal and demobilization of the German troops there.

20th century – present

In 1972 the Chancellor of West Germany Willy Brandt and the Prime Minister of the German Democratic Republic Willy Stoph met in Schloss Wilhelmshöhe for negotiations between the two German states. No extensions were made to the Park in the 20th century. Only measures to preserve the park and its building in an original state were made. The Hessian federal state government urges the conversion plans for the museums in Kassel to improve their attraction. Schloss Wilhelmshöhe is now a museum, and houses a world-famous wallpaper collection, an important collection of Graeco-Roman antiques, and a fine gallery of paintings. The collection which focuses on the 16th and 17th century contains masterpieces by German, Italian, French and Spanish painters comprising the second-largest collection of Rembrandts in Germany. Rembrandt's famous "Saskia" and "The Man with the Slouch Hat" by Frans Hals are just two of many outstanding examples. The Bergpark has been nominated as a World Heritage Site.

Literature
  • Giovanni Francesco Guerniero, Delineatio Montis, Cassel 1706
  • Paul Heidelbach, Die Geschichte der Wilhelmshöhe. Klinkhardt & Biermann, Leipzig, 1909
  • Horst Becker und Michael Karkosch, Park Wilhelmshöhe, Parkpflegewerk, Bad Homburg und Regensburg 2007, ISBN 978-3-7954-1901-1.
  • Verwaltung der Staatlichen Schlösser und Gärten Hessen, ComputerWorks AG und Michael Karkosch, Kassel-Wilhelmshöhe, Gartendenkmalpflegerische Zielplanung mit VectorWorks Landschaft, Lörrach 2007.
  • Bernd Modrow und Claudia Gröschel, Fürstliches Vergnügen, 400 Jahre Gartenkultur in Hessen, Verlag Schnell und Steiner, Bad Homburg und Regensburg 2002, ISBN 3-7954-1487-3.
  • Michael Karkosch, Zeitreise in die Jahrhundertwende, Der Kaiserpark Wilhelmshöhe in Kassel, in: SehensWerte, Heft 4, Besuchermagazin der Verwaltung der Staatlichen Schlösser und Gärten Hessen, Bad Homburg 2008, S. 28f.
  • Dunja Richter, Der Duft der großen weiten Welt, Wilhelminische Pflanzenhausarchitektur in Kassel, in: SehensWerte, Heft 4, Besuchermagazin der Verwaltung der Staatlichen Schlösser und Gärten Hessen, Bad Homburg 2008, S. 30.
  • Michael Karkosch, Zurückgelassen in der Heimat, Erdmann - Lieblingsteckel Seiner Majestät, in: SehensWerte, Heft 4, Besuchermagazin der Verwaltung der Staatlichen Schlösser und Gärten Hessen, Bad Homburg 2008, S. 35.
  • Siegfried Hoß, Kaiserliche Farbenpracht - neu entfacht!, in: SehensWerte, Heft 4, Besuchermagazin der Verwaltung der Staatlichen Schlösser und Gärten Hessen, Bad Homburg 2008, S. 42.
  • Marianne Bolbach, Geschichte und soziale Bedeutung des Bergparks Wilhelmshöhe, Kassel 1988.
  • Paul Heidelbach, Die Geschichte der Wilhelmshöhe, Leipzig 1909, Nachdruck, hrsg. v. Dieter Carl, Vellmar 2005.
  • Alfred Hoffmann und Herrmann Mielke. Kassel - Schlosspark Wilhelmshöhe - Bäume und Sträucher, hrsg. v. d. Verwaltung der Staatlichen Schlösser und Gärten Hessen, Bad Homburg 1994 (3. überarbeitete Aufl.).
  • Jutta Korsmeier, Wasserkünste im Schlosspark Wilhelmshöhe, hrsg. v. d. Verwaltung der Staatlichen Schlösser und Gärten Hessen, Bad Homburg und Regensburg 2000, ISBN 3-7954-1287-0.
  • Helmut Sander, Das Herkules-Bauwerk in Kassel-Wilhelmshöhe, Kassel 1981.