Kassel is a city perched on the River Fulda in Hesse, Germany. It is best known for the globally famous art exhibition, Documenta, that takes place once every five years (the next one is in 2022). However, the city has a host of other treasures up its sleeve to impress and entertain its visitors – from stunning castles to dazzling green parks, from fairy tales to awesome museums. By the time you finish reading our list of the best attractions in Kassel, we bet you will want to visit!
Follow the footsteps of the knights to the magnificent Löwenburg Castle, deliberately and artistically designed to resemble a semi-ruined medieval castle. The baroque interior of the castle houses royal rooms, an armory equipped with weapons from the 16th and 17th centuries, and a Neo-Gothic chapel, which can be explored as part of a guided tour. The surroundings of the castle, consisting of a beautiful garden, a vineyard, a tiltyard and a menagerie, complement the romance of the “ruin”.
Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a top contender for the most stunning parkland in Europe. This extensive park, sprawling over 240 hectares, took 150 years to be designed and boasts a number of amazing attractions (including the Löwenburg Castle). The 526 meter (1,725 ft) tall Karlsberg Mountain towers over the park, topped by the Hercules Monument, from where a waterfall rushes down to the gardens below. Another important sight of this park is the 17th-century castle Schloss Wilhelmshöhe, boasting famous paintings, antiquities and artifacts. Additionally, Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe woos visitors with stunning water displays that work on gravity, hundreds of plant species and over 1,500 species of flowers. Entry to the park is free but you need to purchase tickets to visit the castles and some of the other attractions.
The historical park of Karlsaue, spanning over 400 acres, is an outstanding ensemble consisting of a symmetric system of canals, lakes, fountains, towering trees, sculptures, marble baths and the flower island Siebenbergen that bursts into a riot of colors in spring-summer. However, the most popular attraction of this Baroque park is the palatial Orangerie, housing scientific equipments and a planetarium.
Step off the beaten tourist path and visit this interesting spot in the Friedrichsplatz Park. The Vertical Earth Kilometer is a 1 km (.62 mile) long brass rod driven in the ground through six geological layers, with only its top (resembling a small metal disc) visible on the surface of the ground. The VEK is the work of American artist Walter De Maria, known for his metal rod projects.
Brothers Grimm, creators of magical fairy tales we all grew up listening to, spent several years in Kassel and also researched for their work at the town library. The Brüder Grimm-Museum is dedicated to the life and works of the legendary sibling duo, and houses first editions of their famous fairy tales, translated versions and the brothers’ correspondence. Also, paintings, artifacts, furniture and other objects connected to the Brothers Grimm or their era can be found in this museum.
Marmorbad is a unique attraction in Kassel, and the last surviving of its kind in the country. It is situated adjacent to the Orangerie in the Karlsaue Park. This Baroque bathing ensemble, built in the mid-18th century, contains twelve beautiful marble sculptures, colorful wall reliefs, portraits and medallions. Visitors are welcome to tour the Marmorbad with an audio guide.
Museum für Sepulkralkultur, dedicated to death, is one of the most unusual museums you will visit in Europe. The museum walks visitors through themes of death, burial and commemoration of the departed. Expect to find coffins, tombstones, mourning garb, and pictures and sculptures related to death from the Middle Ages to the modern days.
When in Kassel, art lovers must make a beeline for The Neue Galerie. It boasts a greatly enjoyable collection of artwork and sculptures from the 19th and 20th centuries. Especially popular are the works of Max Slevogt and the sculptures by Joseph Beuys.
If you are one of the millions of people who can’t get enough of the magic that the Brothers Grimm wove with words, good news for you! Kassel has yet another museum dedicated to them. Journey through the fascinating world of Grimm fairy tales, sometimes joyful, sometimes macabre, but always entertaining. Expect to find interesting exhibits, documents and a whole lot of information.
Fans of castles will find the short journey (11 km / 6.8 miles) outside Kassel to Schloss Wilhelmsthal an excursion worth the time and effort. Built in the mid-18th century as a summer pleasure palace, it is considered to be one of the finest examples of the Rococo style of architecture in the country. Take a tour of its grand interiors and you will surely be impressed with its Gallery of Beauty consisting of beautiful paintings. The park surrounding the palace, with its pretty flowerbeds and walkways, adds to the charm of the setting.