Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe

Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe

Descending a long hill dominated by a giant statue of Hercules, the monumental water displays of Wilhelmshöhe were begun by Landgrave Carl of Hesse-Kassel in 1689 around an east-west axis and were developed further into the 19th century. Reservoirs and channels behind the Hercules Monument supply water to a complex system of hydro-pneumatic devices that supply the site’s large Baroque water theatre, grotto, fountains and 350-metre long Grand Cascade. Beyond this, channels and waterways wind across the axis, feeding a series of dramatic waterfalls and wild rapids, the geyser-like Grand Fountain which leaps 50m high, the lake and secluded ponds that enliven the Romantic garden created in the 18th century by Carl’s great-grandson, Elector Wilhelm I. The great size of the park and its waterworks along with the towering Hercules statue constitute an expression of the ideals of absolutist Monarchy while the ensemble is a remarkable testimony to the aesthetics of the Baroque and Romantic periods.

Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe

Descendant la longue pente d’une colline couronnée par la statue géante d’Hercule, les jeux d’eau monumentaux de Wilhelmshöhe furent créés à partir de 1689 par le landgrave Charles de Hesse-Cassel autour d’un axe est-ouest. D’autres éléments ont été apportés par la suite. Des réservoirs et canaux aménagés derrière le monument d’Hercule apportent l’eau au système complexe de dispositifs hydropneumatiques alimentant le vaste théâtre d’eau baroque du site, sa grotte, ses fontaines et sa grande cascade de 350 mètres de long. Outre cet ensemble, les lignes sinueuses de canaux et voies d’eau artificielles traversent cet axe, en alimentant une série de chutes d’eau spectaculaires et de rapides tumultueux, la grande fontaine et son geyser jaillissant à une hauteur de 50 mètres, le lac et les bassins isolés qui animent le jardin romantique créé au 18e siècle par l’arrière-petit-fils de Charles, l’électeur Guillaume Ier. La grande taille du parc et de ses jeux d’eau, ainsi que l’imposante statue d’Hercule, constitue une expression du pouvoir absolu en Europe et l’ensemble témoigne des conceptions esthétiques des périodes baroque et romantique.

Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe

source: UNESCO/ERI

Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe

De waterwerken van Wilhelmshöhe stromen naar beneden van een lange heuvel die gedomineerd wordt door een reusachtig standbeeld van Hercules. Landgraaf Carl van Hessen-Kassel begon in 1689 met de waterwerken en ze werden verder ontwikkeld in de 19e eeuw. Reservoirs en kanalen achter het Hercules-standbeeld vormen de toevoer van een hydro-pneumatisch apparatensysteem dat water levert voor het barokke watertheater, de grot, fonteinen en de 350-meter lange Grote Cascade. Daarnaast omvat het Bergpark spectaculaire watervallen, wilde stroomversnellingen, een geiserachtige Grote Fontein, een meer en afgelegen vijvers in de Romantische tuin. Het monumentale Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe weerspiegelt de idealen van de absolutistische monarchie en getuigt tegelijkertijd van barokke en Romantische esthetiek.

Source: unesco.nl

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Water features and Hercules within the Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe © Nik Barlo jr.
Outstanding Universal Value

Brief synthesis

Inspired by the dramatic topography of its site, the Hercules monument and water features of the Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe created by the Landgrave Carl from 1689 combine in an outstanding demonstration of man’s mastery over nature. The monumental display of rushing water from the Octagon crowned by the massive Hercules statue via the Vexing Grotto and Artichoke Basin with their hydro pneumatic acoustic effects, Felsensturz Waterfall and Giant’s Head Basin down the Baroque Cascade to Neptune’s Basin and on towards the crowning glory of the Grand Fountain, a 50 metre high geyser that was the tallest in the world when built in 1767, is focused along an east-west axis terminating in the centre of the city of Kassel. Complemented by the wild Romantic period waterfalls, rapids and cataracts created under Carl’s great-grandson the Elector Wilhelm I, as part of the 18th century landscape in the lower part of the Bergpark, the whole composition is an outstanding demonstration of the technical and artistic mastery of water in a designed landscape. Together with the 11.5m high copper sheets Hercules statue towering above the park and visible from many kilometres, which represents an extraordinary sculptural achievement, they are testimony to the wealth and power of the 18th & 19th century European ruling class.

Criterion (iii): The towering statue of Hercules and the water displays of the Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe are an exceptional symbol of the era of European Absolutism.

Criterion (iv): The water displays of Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe are an outstanding and unique example of monumental water structures. Cascades of similar size and artificial waterfalls of comparable height can be found nowhere else. The Hercules statue, towering over the 560 hectare park, is both technically and artistically the most sophisticated and colossal statue of the Early Modern era. The ensemble of water features with their monumental architectural settings is unparalleled in the garden art of the Baroque and Romantic periods.

Integrity

The nominated property includes all elements necessary to express its values and does not suffer from adverse effects of development or neglect. All water features except the New Waterfall are still operable and together with the Hercules Monument preserve their visual integrity and setting.

Authenticity

The nominated property is authentic in terms of its form and design, materials and substance, use and function, techniques, location and setting. The technology required for the water features has been preserved, complete and functional.

Protection and management requirements

The property is protected by laws of the Federal Republic of Germany including the Regional Planning Act, Town and Country Planning Code, Federal Nature Conservation Act, the Environmental Impact Assessment Act, and the Federal Forest Act, as well as by the laws of the Federal State of Hesse including the Act on the Protection of Cultural Monuments, the Hessian State Planning Act, Hessian Forest Act, the Hessian Act on the Implementation of the Federal Nature Conservation Act, and the Hessian building regulations. The property is protected in its entirety by the Hessian Act on the Protection of Cultural Monuments. The property is managed under the direction of a Steering Committee comprising representatives of the Hessian Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Arts, the City of Kassel, the Museumslandschaft and Kassel County and served by a Steering Board, which is a panel of experts that appoints specialised task groups as required to work with the World Heritage Hesse Staff Unit within the Hessian State Office for the Preservation of Historical Monuments. The woods and open spaces of the water catchment areas of the Habichtswald are managed by the Hessen-Forst State Forestry Administration, Wolfhagen forestry office.

The Bergpark is considered as a protected complex in the Regional Plan North Hesse 2009, and as having recreational value within a pristine environment. According to the City of Kassel’s Urban Development Concept (2006) the traffic situation around the Bergpark will be improved, Wilhelmshöher Allee’s periphery will be finalised as a boulevard and certain roads through the park will be closed. The Management Plan for the Water features and Hercules within the Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe, prepared in 2008-2010 jointly by representatives of the State of Hesse, the city and county of Kassel, and citizens’ representatives is being implemented by the Steering Committee and focuses on protection and preservation of the monuments, garden buildings, natural resources, views and vistas, sustainable tourism and public use. Local citizens are involved in working groups and residents in the buffer zone are consulted on all planning matters relating to the Bergpark. Management will be improved by inclusion of a risk preparedness strategy.