March 31, 2017

3004 GERMANY (Hesse) - Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe (UNESCO WHS)

Located on the Fulda River, Kassel has been known throughout history primarily as a centre of Calvinist Protestantism, as source of mercenaries (Hessians) hired by the British crown to help suppress the American Revolution, and as home of the Brothers Grimm. In WWII, Kassel was heavily bombed by allied aviation, and after war most of the ancient buildings were not restored, large parts of the city area being completely rebuilt in the style of the 1950s. An exception is Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe, an exceptional symbol of the era of European Absolutism.

It is the largest European hillside park, and second largest park on a hill slope in the world. The complex includes Wilhelmshöhe Palace (with the Antiquities Collection and Old Masters), the  Hercules monument, and the Lions Castle. The park came into being as a Baroque park under Landgrave Charles I of Hesse-Kassel. In 1701, the Italian architect Giovanni Francesco Guerniero started the construction of the Hercules monument and the giant cascades. In 1785, Wilhelm IX, Landgrave of Hesse started a large extension of the park, and the following year his architect, Simon Louis du Ry, designed the Neoclassical Wilhelmshöhe Palace.

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 Charles great-grandson Wilhelm IX, 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, they are testimony to the wealth and power of the 18th & 19th century European ruling class.

Hercules is a copper statue depicting the ancient Greek demigod Heracles. The statue is located at the top of a Pyramid, which stands on top of the Octagon; the statue and the other parts of the monument were constructed at different times. Today "Hercules" refers not only to the statue, but the whole monument, including the Octagon and Pyramid. The monument is the highest point in the Wilhelmshöhe Bergpark, with a total height of 70.5 meters. The height difference between top of the statue and the bottom of the cascades is 179 meters.

About the stamps
The stamps are part of the series Blumen, about which I wrote here.

Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe - Wikipedia
Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe - UNESCO official website

Sender: Jorn Hegner (direct swap)
Sent from Kassel (Hesse / Germany), on 24.03.2017 

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