Kassel

A museum in downtown Kassel.

On Sunday a group of us went up to Kassel to see what there was to see. We took an 8:30 a.m. train and arrived in Kassel around ten in the morning. Our first impressions of Kassel were less than glowing… basically the main train station in Kassel is situated in a not-so-nice part of the city, unless you consider strip clubs and erotic shops high-class, in which case Kassel is nothing short of glamorous.

We wandered around a bit without a real game plan – we just wanted to see what was in the city. We had intentions of finding some food but the combination of it being a Sunday and somewhat early in the day meant that choices were quite limited. We managed to find one café that was open and worked our way to the nicer part of Kassel’s downtown.

From what I’ve read, Kassel is an example of a city that had an extremely different fate than Marburg in World War II – around 80 percent of the city was destroyed in the war, meaning Kassel is severely lacking in old-world charm. The vast majority of the buildings in the city are relatively new and not necessarily the most aesthetically pleasing. Granted, there were some nice parts of the city, including a lovely little square of grass and a pretty museum building.

Schloss Wilhelmshöhe

Once we were satisfied that we had seen what downtown Kassel had to offer, we worked our way to the outskirts of the town to Schloss Wilhelmshöhe Park, a sprawling park with a palace built in the late 18th century. The German emperor Kaiser Wilhelm II used the palace as a summer home in the early 1900s.

The park alone was worth the trip to Kassel. The grounds were absolutely lovely, full of trees and well-maintained lawns as well as scattered neo-classical buildings and statues. You could spend hours wandering around.  The park also offered a nice view of Kassel, since it is situated high on a hill. The Schloss (palace) itself, where the emperor lived, is also quite pretty. The overall feel of the park was very idyllic – peaceful and full of nature.

The park is most famous for the statue of Hercules that rests at the very top of another hill facing the palace. The pictures I took don’t really do justice to the size of the statue or how high above the park it looms. You can walk up the statue if you are feeling intrepid, which some members of our group did. Others of us weren’t quite feeling up to it on that day, however, so we hung back and just soaked up the beautiful spring weather.

As is becoming common with our adventures, we all agreed we would love to come back again in the summer and picnic out on the lawn. Those of us who did not climb up to the statue would like to come back and conquer that challenge. Additionally, twice a week in the summer there is an artificial waterfall that runs from the top of the Hercules statue down to the base of the hill, which is supposed to be quite the sight to behold. So, expect another jaunt to Kassel in a few months.

Waaaay out there is the statue of Hercules, at the very tip of the point. So yes, a bit of a hike.

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