Wilhelmsthal Castle Park
One of the most attractive rococo castles in Germany
William VIII, the founder of the Kassel Art Gallery, had built Wilhelmsthal Park and Castle from 1743, in rural surroundings, as a summer residence, pleasure palace and hunting lodge. He was not to live to see its completion.
The structure of the castle is one of the most significant architectural monuments of the region, and it is one of the most important surviving creations of the rococo period. The outstanding artists of the 18th century were involved in the building.
The design of a "maison de plaisance" according to the "latest French taste" came from the Bavarian court architect François de Cuvilliés the Elder. The sumptuous interior design, with carved wall panelling, stucco work and numerous paintings of the highest quality, was created by the sculptor Johann August Nahl, who had previously already worked for Frederick the Great in Berlin and Potsdam, the court stuccoer Johann Michael Brühl and the Kassel court painter Johann Heinrich Tischbein the Elder.
Parts of the rococo park from the middle of the 18th century, which was never quite completed, still survive: the southern axis with the canal and the grotto, a masterpiece of court landscape gardening of the 18th century, as well as the former duck pond. From the central axis, which is partly bordered by lime trees, the former pool which was to supply the planned cascade can still be identified as a recess in the ground.
The appearance of the garden today is, however, on the whole, determined by its transformation into a landscape garden, which William IX had carried out from 1796 to 1806 by his court gardener Karl Hentzer, according to plans by D.A. Schwarzkopf. During this time, the watchtower appeared on a hill as an artificial ruin, towering over the treetops, according to a design by the renownedKasselarchitect Simon Louis du Ry.
The tower points out a peculiarity of the Wilhelmsthal grounds: contrary to the rules, the castle is situated at the lowest point, almost hidden at the base of the valley. The main axis rises on both sides, defining the centre of the park to the east, as an avenue to the adjoining zoological gardens to the west, the hunting ground for court society. This scenery is most impressive when experienced from the reception rooms on the first floor.