Occupying 590 acres of area in Kassel, Germany, Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe is the largest hillside park in Europe and the second largest in the world. Construction of the park began in 1689 at the behest of the Landgraves of Hesse-Kassel and finished 150 years later. Due to its exquisite fountains and monumental Baroque architecture, Bergpark (“mountain park”) has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2013.
The Hercules Monument is the most prominent part of the park with a bronze statue of the Greek demigod Heracles. The 8.5-meter-tall statue stands on a 40-meter-high pyramid. A reservoir behind the monument gathers water that flows through a complex series of channels, valves, aqueducts, and water wheels. Finally, the water finishes its journey at the ponds in front of the Wilhelmshöhe Palace, built in Neoclassical style in the late 18th century.
The 70-meter-tall Hercules Monument is one of the oldest structures in Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe, built in the early 18th century.
The head architects of the early 18th century intended the park to be a Baroque park. Nevertheless, the subsequent architects changed the concept from French Baroque to the English Gardenlate in the late 18th century. Then, they added artificial ruins such as the Löwenburg (Lion’s Castle) and the Roman aqueduct. Furthermore, the architects extended the water garden by adding ponds like the Teufelsbrücke (Devil’s Bridge) and the Höllenteich (Hell’s Pond).
The last large construction in Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe was the Great Waterfall, built at the behest of William II, Elector of Hesse in 1826. During the following decades, the park took on a political role. After the Wilhelmshöhe Palace was bombed during WWII, the building was rebuilt as an art museum housing a collection of Graeco-Roman antiques and a gallery of paintings of 16th and 17th-century artists. Since then, the site has not gone through further extensions, and the renovation of the Hercules Monument is still in progress.