One of the perks of being a student in Germany is the semester ticket. In Marburg, we can travel with our ticket around all of Hessen and into some of the neighbouring Bundesländer. For a while now, my to-do list (and bucket list) has featured the goal “make the most of semester ticket”, but unfortunately I haven’t visited as many places as I’d have liked. However, now that the regulations have been somewhat relaxed, it’s time to start exploring again (under certain conditions).
On Wednesday afternoon, our destination was the Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe in Kassel, a UNESCO World Heritage Site which is pretty much what you get on the packet. It really is a “mountain park”. Kassel was first mentioned as King Konrad I’s royal court in the 10th century. Kas- meaning “hollow/dip” and –sella from sali/seli meaning “building”. Many years later, in 1689, the “mountain park”‘s construction began and took a century and a half to be completed. It lies alongside the Habichtswald and features cascading waterfalls and monuments.
For over 300 years, visitors have made their way to the park to see the 250m long cascades which are supplied with water by natural pressure from nearby reservoirs. Tumbling down the aqueduct, the mass finally reaches the castle lake. Like most parks in Germany, this one also has a Schloss (castle), which today serves as an art museum and home to many of Rembrandt’s works. Unfortunately we didn’t see the “water games” of the cascades, but we could imagine it well, and instead we dangled our feet in one of the channels in the peaceful woodland.
We hiked up to the top of the Hercules monument which took a couple of hours. When you enter the park, you can already see it, high in the sky and nearly blocking out the sun. The copper statue of the ancient Greek minor deity stands on top of a pyramid which is placed on an octagon. The Landgrave of Kassel, Karl, had to prove his claim to power somehow, so what better way than to portray this power through architecture and statues.
And what’s a day in forests without mushrooms?
Hexenröhrlinge (“witch tubes”, possibly due to the changing colour; tubes due to the pores) – a dotted stem bolete – Boletus erythropus (deriving from the Greek – Red foot). Not to be confused with its poisonous doppelgänger, Rubroboletus satanas, which also has a red stem but a white cap. A clear characteristic of the edible one is that its stem turns dark blue if cut or bruised (see above picture).