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May 7, 2021

Germany: Kassel, Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe

Tourists watch Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe waterworks in action.

Though we reached speeds exceeding 110 mph it took us close to three hours to cover the 160 miles of road between Worms and Kassel Germany. Our road speed was legal, well mostly legal. We were driving on stretches of the German autobahn where there is no speed limit. At midday the traffic was light enough to take advantage of the absence of a speed limit, at least in stretches. But legal or not, exceeding 110 mph in a rental Peugeot 2008 is not entirely comfortable. And though we went fast on the autobahn the necessary slow local roads brought down our average speed.

Time was of the essence for us. We wanted to reach Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe in time to see the water show. Two days a week the park’s massive mountainside water garden springs to life at 2:30 in the afternoon and trickles to an end 4 pm. The water would not wait for us if we were late. And the next time the water flowed we’d be a long ways away.

The water and the visitors roll down the hill.

We rushed into Kassel and checked in to our hotel. Leaving our bags behind in the room we walked and took public transport up the hill with our dog Gigi fighting to lead the way to the nearest smelly object instead. Though we had a map in hand it was easier to follow the crowd of people riding the tram and bus presumably to the top of the water feature. If the masses were heading to a K-pop concert instead we would have been totally screwed. Fortunately our follow the herd instincts worked this time; we arrived at the top just in time to see the water released to spill down the hillside through a sequential set of manmade features.

Following a precise schedule on Wednesday, Sunday, and public holidays 92,000 gallons of water retained at the top are released from a collection of reservoirs. The water flows down the hillside, in the process powering a sequential series of water spectacles. A parallel cascade of spectators follows the water on foot down the hill arriving just in time of catch each feature as it flows to life and leaving as it peters out. With Gigi peeing unusually frequently we had to scramble to keep up with the crowd.

Construction of the Bergpark, or “Mountain Park”, began in 1689 at the behest of the Landgraves of Hesse-Kassel. (Landgrave is a count having jurisdiction over a territory.) The water park took about 150 years to complete, a multi-generational effort. Even with all of the distractions that the modern era has produced, Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe’s water garden is still a must see attraction.

There is much more to see in Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe’s 590-acres, the largest hillside park in Europe. Indeed, there’s more to see in Kassel. But without doubt the commune and park’s main attraction is the water show. It would have been tragic if we had not made it on time.


The park is open to the public today. Since 2013, Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

1 Comment »

  1. […] our prior stops in Worms and Kassel Goslar’s mostly intact medieval core was a revelation.  The commune was fortunate to have […]

    Pingback by Germany:  Golsar | Another Header — May 9, 2021 @ 8:00 pm

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