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World Heritage status for bergpark wilhelmshöhe

The Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe is the 38th World Heritage site in Germany, and part of the universal cultural heritage of mankind. At its meeting in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh on 23rd June, 2013, UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee decided to inscribe the Bergpark’s Hercules Monument and Waterfeatures on the list of the world’s cultural and natural heritage.

The Committee acknowledged the property as a unique cultural landscape. It confirmed that the park’s Waterfeatures are an outstanding and unique example of the art of monumental water engineering practiced in the era of European Absolutism. There could be no doubt that the Hercules statue represents the finest monumental sculpture of Early Modern times both technically and artistically. Nowhere else in the world has there ever been a hillside park layout like this, of comparable size and featuring a “water architecture” as accomplished as the one created under Landgrave Karl in the years since 1691. (Source: MHK)

The application

Higher, faster, further - those were the standards of the developers who designed the water displays and Wilhelmshöhe Mountain Park. The superlatives that have emerged are now to help the park to become a World Heritage Site.

The application which was prepared by a team of experts is based on the unique combination of technology, nature and culture in the gardens in Kassel. The topographical situation of the park plays a key role here. Due to the inspired exploitation of this, the water displays are, on the one hand, accorded an impressive monumentality.

On the other hand, the topographical situation of the park helps the Hercules monument, as a highly visible landmark, to achieve a regulatory power in terms of landscape design and urban planning, which impressed whole generations of rulers of the House of Hesse-Kassel and tempted them, over and over again, to make the park and woodland selected by Landgrave Charles into the main point of representation for their own power, to shape its design, extend it and maintain it themselves. The technical innovations at the court of the princes of Kassel, which were required for the water show that was as sensational then as it is today, should also be highlighted, as well as the skilful statue of Hercules which, 300 years ago, was the highest quality large scale sculpture made of copper in the world.

The information that is summarised here in brief is given in detail on 500 pages in the application for World Heritage status. The preparation and coordination took place over three years, in regular meetings with specialists, employees of the State of Hesse and the City of Kassel, under the leadership of the Hesse State Office for the Preservation of Monuments.

UNESCO will provisionally make its decision concerning the acceptance of Kassel into the "Champions League" of the most significant cultural sites in the world in Summer 2013.

(Source: MHK)