6th-9th September 2010 23. July 2024

With approximately 200,000 inhabitants and a total area of 107 square kilometers (41 square miles), Kassel is the largest town in the north of Hesse (Nordhessen).


First mentioned in the year 913, the city can look back on a more than thousand year history. The city's name is derived from the ancient Castellum Cattorum.

After Landgraf (landgrave) Heinrich from Hessen chose Kassel as his government residence in 1277, the size of the city as well as its economic importance grew. In the 16th century, approximately 5000 people lived in Kassel. It was at that time, that landgrave Philipp fought for protestantism and Kassel temporarily became the political center in the west of Germany.

In the late 18th century, Hesse-Kassel became infamous for selling mercenaries to the British crown to help suppress the American Revolution and to finance the construction of palaces and the landgrave's opulent lifestyle.

In the early 19th century, the Brothers Grimm lived in Kassel and collected and wrote most of their fairy tales there. In Kassel the brothers also developed their political opinions and concepts as well as engaging in extensive linguistic and literary research which led to the emergence of a new branch of scholarship; namely, the study of German language and literature.

The most severe bombing of Kassel in World War II destroyed 90% of the downtown area, some 10,000 people were killed, and 150,000 were made homeless. After WWII, large parts of the downtown area were completely rebuilt in the style of the 1950s, leaving most of the ancient buildings unrestored.

In 1955, Arnold Bode organised the first documenta. The documenta now takes place every five years - the next will be in mid-2012 - and is the world's largest exhibition of contemporary art. As a result of many documentas, there are numerous artworks embedded in the cityscape. The last documenta took place in 2007, one of the many displaying artist was Ai Weiwei, artistic consultant of the Beijing National Stadium, dubbed "The Bird's Nest".

Artworks in Kassel's cityscapeArtworks in Kassel's cityscapeArtworks in Kassel's cityscape
Artworks in Kassel's cityscape
Spitzhacke ("pick-axe") by Claes Oldenburg, documenta 7, 1982"
Man walking to the sky ("Himmelsstürmer") by Jonathan Borofsky, DOCUMENTA IX, 1992
Die Fremden ("The strangers") by Thomas Schütte, DOCUMENTA IX, 1992

University of Kassel

The University of Kassel was founded in 1971, and is the newest university in the state of Hesse. The university's main campus at the Holländische Platz was built on side of the old Henschel-Werk. Founded in 1810, the Henschel-Werk was best known as a maker of transportation equipment, including locomotives, trucks, buses, and tanks. Consequently, in World War II, the company's factories were among the most important bomber targets and were nearly completely destroyed. In 1974, the Land Hesse bought the site. Traces of the old Henschel-Werk can be found on the campus, the foundry is still in use, as a lecture room for representative events.
The University of Kassel currently has about 18,035 students. There are more than 1,783 staff, including 304 professors and about 900 other academic staff and 1,100 technical and administrative staff.

Campus impressionsCampus impressionsCampus impressions
Campus impressions

Main sights

Wilhelmshöhe Palace

Built in 1786 by landgrave Wilhelm IX of Hesse-Kassel, the palace now inherites an Antique Collection, the Galerie Alte Meister (with German, Italian, French and Spanish masterpieces mainly from the 16th and 17th century; among them Dürer, Tizian, and Rembrandt), and a Graphic Collection, which origin's date back to the 16th century.

Wilhelmshöhe Palace impressionsWilhelmshöhe Palace impressionsWilhelmshöhe Palace impressions
Wilhelmshöhe Palace impressions

Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe

Wilhelmshöhe Palace is surrounded by the Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe, Europe's largest mountain Park. On the top stand the Oktagon, a huge octagonal stone structure carrying a giant replica of Hercules "Farnese", Kassel's landmark.

Bergpark impressionsBergpark impressionsBergpark impressions
Bergpark impressions
Octagon with Hercules and cascades
Löwenburg ("Lions Castle")
The aqueduct

From its base down to Wilhelmshöhe Palace runs a long set of artificial cascades, which are part of the Ornamental Water Displays. The water then flows past the Steinhöfer waterfall and the Teufelsbrücke (Devil's Bridge) and continues downwards over the aqueduct to reach its final destination, the Big Fountain in the palace lake which sends the water shooting 52 metres into the air by means of natural pressure.

Displays start every Wednesday and Sunday (from 1st May till 3rd October) at 2.30pm at the foot of the Herkules monument. They end at 3.45pm at the Big Fountain.


Situated in the middle of the city is another large park: the Karlsaue along the Fulda River. Established in the 16th century, it is famous for the Orangerie, a baroque palace built in 1710 as a summer residence for the landgraves.

Orangerie and Karlsaue ParkOrangerie and Karlsaue ParkOrangerie and Karlsaue Park
Orangerie and Karlsaue Park


Kassel has the highest density of museums, in all of Europe. Among them are:

  • Museum Fridericianum (build in 1779 and Europe's first public museum)
  • Hessisches Landesmuseum (with a world-famous wallpaper collection)
  • Museum für Sepulkralkultur (the only German Museum for Sepulchral Culture)
  • Brothers Grimm Museum
  • Naturkundemuseum Ottoneum
  • Ecomuseums Reinhardswald and Habichtswald
  • Museum for Astronomy & Physics with Complete Planetarium
  • Caricatura - Gallery for Comic Art
  • Documenta exhibition halls
  • Stadtmuseum Kassel
Museum Fridericianum
Museum Fridericianum

Information on the museums and other touristic highlights can be found on Kassel tourist.

Panoramic views of Kassel.