Kassel is the regional "capital" of North Hesse in Germany, has a population of about 200 000 and is also international known for the documenta exhibitions of contemporary art every five years. The "Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe" with it waterworks received 2013 the title "UNESCO-World Heritage Site".
The Centre of Kassel itself was thoroughly destroyed during the second world war and therefore rebuilt in the incredibly bland 1950s style (which in fairness was partially due to budget constraints and admitted to be ugly even back than). Hence, the inner city is mainly dominated by bank and mall buildings of the modern sort.
Kassel has been first mentioned around 900 AD. Since then it has always been a provincial capital for the realms of North Hesse or Kur-Hesse.
During the 30 years war Kassels Landgraf Philipp declared for the Protestants. This had an effect as later numerous Huguenots emigrated from France and brought with them their trade and skills. The impact of the Huguenots can still be witnessed in the centre of Kassel where streets are named after Huguenots.
Kassel became a considerable industrial and scientific city as can still be seen in the Orangerie museum where loads of scientific kit from the enlightenment period is on show. Noticeably the first steam pot producing a fountain was constructed in Kassel by Papin and rumours have it that he left Kassel in his steam boat a few years before James Watt got his prototype into shape.
Kassel was already a heavy industries site by WW2, where trains, tanks and planes were constructed. In the later years of the war Kassel was thoroughly bombed as a military target by English and American planes.
Kassel was home to the famous Brothers Grimm who wrote a lot of the fairy tales Disney uses today. A less well known but perhaps more important piece of their work was an attempt at a "complete" dictionary of the German language, that was only completed after their death. The house that they lived in was made into a museum with a lot of interesting artifacts.
Kassel is an important hub in the ICE network and was one of the cities on the first purpose built German high speed rail line connecting Würzburg and Hanover The best way to reach Kassel is by train since most of the Inter-City Express (ICE) trains and plenty of local trains stop at the Fernbahnhof Kassel-Wilhemshöhe, about 4 kilometres west of the city centre. The Busbahnhof Kassel Wilhelmshöhe (intercity bus station), also known as the ZOB, adjoins the Kassel-Wilhemshöhe Bahnhof.
Kassel's historic Hauptbahnhof (main station), also known as the Kulturbahnhof since it was redeveloped in the 1990s, is very near the city center. Trains run between the two stations. It is much easier to see the downtown area if you take a train to the Hauptbahnhof and begin your exploring from there.
From the Station, trams leave towards the town centre and one can easily walk to the Bergpark which is visible from where the trams leave. If you are staying a few days in Kassel buy a public transport Wochenkarte. Ride as much as you like on the streetcars and buses for a full week from date of issue. Current price (02.06.2014) was €21.
- Local public transport is the KVG (only in German).
- Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe. since 2013 on the UNESCO World Heritage List, Worth visiting is the "Bergpark" (Mountainpark) which is supposedly the largest in Europe and second largest park on a mountain slope in the world. The park contains the Herkules statue at its top end which is towering over the city and has become its symbol. Further the park contains loads of smaller features which are mainly fake Greek temples, fake medieval castles, fake quarries - you see where we are getting ... Not fake though are the Rembrandts and Rubens paintings in the Schloss in the park - an entrance fee is charged. The Park also features during summer months the Wasserspiele (watergames) every Wednesday and Sunday starting from 2:30PM. Various of the features such as the Cascades (below the Herkules statue), the fake waterfall and the fake Roman Aqueduct have their water supplies opened for half an hour or so each and the crowd of tourists will move from feature to feature starting on the higher parts moving down slope. Löwenburg and Schloss Wilhelmshöhe (palace Wilhelmshöhe) with its old masterpieces of art.
- Karlsaue State Park (Staatspark Karlsaue). Karlsaue, another, French style park with some old buildings containing all sort of museums (tapstries to astrology). That area is also the usual place for the Documenta art exhibition to happen every five years (next summer 2017). Siebenbergen flower island (Blumeninsel Siebenbergen). Orangerie. Cabinet of Astronomy and Physics with planetarium (Astronomisch Physikalisches Kabinett mit Planetarium). Marble Baths (Marmorbad)
- Friedericianum, Friedrichspl. 18, ☎ . museum
- Museum of Natural History in the Ottoneum-building (Naturkundemuseum im Ottoneum), Steinweg 2, ☎ .
- Tram-Museum Kassel, Sandershäuser Straße 23.
- Technical Museum, Wolfhager Str. 109.
- Henschel Museum, Wolfhager Str. 109.
- Brother Grimm Museum, Palais Bellevue, Schöne Aussicht 2.
- Kurhessen-Therme. – Thermal bath
- Getting a little bit out of the city can be a good thing. Around Kassel there are beautiful forests and ponds that have really good trails like the Habichtswald in the west or the Reinhardswald in the north. You can travel with buses direct into them (Bus 22 or 190).
- Kassel Tourist Information City Tours. (only in German)
Shopping can be somewhat difficult in Kassel compared to the United States, but most of the good shopping is located close to the Königsplatz so if you get off the Straßenbahn (Tram) around there you can do most of your shopping with the usual big retail chains and many smaller shops.
There are great bakeries on every corner and throughout the city. Another great place to eat is any of the little stands located on Königsplatz (city centre).
- The Crèperie is a pub always popular with teenagers close to the Bebelplatz in the Friedrich-Ebert-Straße.
- Spot was supposed to be a great place to go out, but it all depends on what night so make sure you find out what type of music is playing that night also it is a little ways off the main strip of Kassel so be prepared for that. The best time to go is Tuesdays before midnight till when they serve beer for 50 cents.
- Check out the area around the Hauptbahnhof and Friedrich-Ebert Street. There you will find Clubs like the ARM near the main station.
- Kassel has its own youth hostel between the train stations Hauptbahnhof and Wilhelmshöhe; Bus station Angersbachstraße (bus between the two stations) or Jugendherberge.
- Schlosshotel Bad Wilhelmshöhe. Schlosspark 8 - Four star hotel with a superb view over Kassel or the hillside park with Palace Wilhelmshöhe, Castle Löwenburg and the Herkules. single from 99€ double from119€ suites from 189€.
- Hotel Albatros, Oberste Gasse 11 (one block SE of the Königsplatz and an easy walk from the Hauptbahnhof). A classic German experience with full restaurant/bar on the main level and 15 rooms on the upper two floors. All rooms with WC and shower and TV. 2008 rate was EU46 single, EU 68 double which includes a large breakfast buffet. The restaurant has daily specials, and serves reasonably priced, true German cuisine.
- Ibis Hotel Kassel, Heinrich-Hertz-Straße 3, ☎ , fax: +49-561-5894400. A clean budget hotel located in an industrial area a couple of kilometres from down-town, right at the Autobahn exit. If you are travelling by car, this is an excellent choice, if travelling by train or other kind of transportation, not. The hotel restaurant could be compared to a fast-food joint, but again, if you have a car you can drive to the city centre for a better meal. from 52 €.
- Deutsche Märchenstraße (German Fairytale Road)
- Medieval towns around Kassel