Main Births etc
Country Germany
State Hesse
Admin. region Kassel
District Urban district
First mentioned
 • Mayor Bertram Hilgen (SPD)
 • City 107 km2 (41 sq mi)
Elevation 167 m (548 ft)
Population (2010-12-31)[1]
 • City 195,530
 • Density 1,800/km2 (4,700/sq mi)
 • Metro 450,000
Time zone CET/CEST (UTC+1/+2)
Postal codes 34001–34134
Dialling codes 0561
Vehicle registration KS

Kassel (German pronunciation: [ˈkasəl]; spelled Cassel until 1928) is a town located on the Fulda River in northern Hesse, Germany. It is the administrative seat of the Kassel Regierungsbezirk and the Kreis of the same name and has approximately 195,000 inhabitants.[2] It is known for the documenta exhibition of contemporary art. In 1964, the town hosted the fourth Hessentag state festival, and is designated for the 53rd in 2013.


A map of Kassel in 1648.

Königsstrasse, the main shopping street

The city's name is derived from the ancient Castellum Cattorum, a castle of the Chatti, a German tribe that had lived in the area since Roman times.

Kassel was first mentioned in 913 AD as the place where two deeds were signed by King Conrad I. The place was called Chasella and was a fortification at a bridge crossing the Fulda river. A deed from 1189 certifies that Kassel had city rights, but the date when they were granted is not known.

In 1567, the landgraviate of Hesse, until then centered in Marburg, was divided among four sons, with Hesse-Kassel (or Hesse-Cassel) becoming one of its successor states. Kassel was its capital and became a centre of Calvinist Protestantism in Germany. Strong fortifications were built to protect the Protestant stronghold against Catholic enemies. In 1685, Kassel became a refuge for 1700 Huguenots who found shelter in the newly established borough of Oberneustadt. Landgrave Charles, who was responsible for this humanitarian act, also ordered the construction of the Oktagon and of the Orangerie. In the late 18th century, Hesse-Kassel became infamous for selling mercenaries (Hessians) to the British crown to help suppress the American Revolution and to finance the construction of palaces and the landgrave's opulent lifestyle.

In the early 19th century, the Brothers Grimm lived in Kassel and collected and wrote most of their fairy tales there. At that time, around 1803, the landgravate was elevated to a principality and its ruler to Prince-elector. Shortly after, it was annexed by Napoleon and in 1807 it became the capital of the short-lived Kingdom of Westphalia under Napoleon's brother Jérôme. The electorate was restored in 1813.

Having sided with Austria in the Austro-Prussian War for supremacy in Germany, the principality was annexed by Prussia in 1866. The Prussian administration united Nassau, Frankfurt and Hesse-Kassel into the new Prussian province of Hesse-Nassau. Kassel ceased to be a princely residence, but soon developed into a major industrial centre as well as a major railway junction.

In 1870, after the Battle of Sedan, Napoleon III was sent as a prisoner to the castle of Wilhelmshohe above the city. During World War I the German military headquarters were located in the castle of Wilhelmshohe. In the late 1930s Nazis destroyed Heinrich Hübsch's Kassel Synagogue.

During World War II, Kassel was the Headquarters for Germany's Wehrkreis IX, and a local subcamp of Dachau concentration camp provided forced labour for Henschel facilities.[3] The most severe bombing of Kassel in World War II destroyed 90% of the downtown area, some 10,000 people were killed, and 150,000 were made homeless. Most of the casualties were civilians or wounded soldiers recuperating in local hospitals, whereas factories survived the attack generally undamaged. Karl Gerland replaced the regional Gauleiter, Karl Weinrich, soon after the raid.

The Allied ground advance into Germany reached Kassel at the beginning of April 1945. The US 80th Infantry Division captured Kassel in bitter house-to-house fighting during 2–4 April 1945, which included numerous German panzer-grenadier counterattacks, and resulted in further widespread devastation to bombed and unbombed structures alike.[4]

Post-war, most of the ancient buildings were not restored, and large parts of the downtown area were completely rebuilt in the style of the 1950s. A few historic buildings, however, such as the Museum Fridericianum (see below), were restored. In 1949, the interim parliament ("Parlamentarischer Rat") eliminated Kassel in the first round as a city to become the provisional capital of the Federal Republic of Germany (Bonn won). In 1972 the Chancellor of West Germany Willy Brandt and the Prime Minister of the German Democratic Republic Willy Stoph met in Wilhelmshöhe castle for negotiations between the two German states.

Kassel 360° Panorama view from the Tower of the Lutherkirche.
Kassel 360° Panorama view from the Tower of the Lutherkirche.


Installation by Thomas Schütte during Documenta IX, 1992

In 1558 the first German observatory was built in Kassel, followed in 1604 by the Ottoneum, the first permanent German theatre building. The old building is today the Natural History Museum, and the today called Staatstheater Kassel is located in a nearby building constructed in the 1950s. Since 1927, Kassel has been home to Bärenreiter, one of the world's most important music publishers.

Since 1955 the Documenta, an international exhibition of modern and contemporary art, has been held regularly in Kassel. The Documenta now takes place every 5 years, the last exhibition, dOCUMENTA (13) started in June and end in September 2012. As a result of the Documenta 6 (1977), Kassel became the first town in the world to have been illuminated by LASER-beams at night (Laserscape, by artist Horst H. Baumann). This LASER-installation is nowadays still visible at weekends. Other Documenta-remnants (mainly sculptures) can be found in many places in Kassel.

Main sights[]

The bombing raids of 1943 destroyed 90% of the city centre. The city was almost completely rebuilt during the 1950s and is a combination of renovated or reconstructed old buildings and architecture of the 1950s. Outside of the city centre the suburbs are dominated by 19th century architecture. The oldest monument is the Druselturm, the Brüderkirche and the Church of St. Martin are also in part of medieval origin. The towers of St. Martin are from the 1950s.

Wilhelmshöhe Palace (with the Antiquities Collection and Old Masters), Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe and Hercules monument, Lions Castle[]

Herkules Monument and water running down the cascades during the water features. In the Bergpark of the Wilhelmshöhe Palace

The Orangerie (Kassel) in the Karlsaue

Wilhelmshöhe Palace above the city, was built in 1786 by landgrave Wilhelm IX of Hesse-Kassel. The palace is now a museum and houses an important collection of Graeco-Roman antiques and a fine gallery of paintings comprising the second largest collection of Rembrandts in Germany. It is surrounded by the beautiful Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe with many appealing sights.

The Hercules monument is a huge octagonal stone structure carrying a giant replica of Hercules "Farnese" (now at Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Naples, Italy). From its base down to Wilhelmshöhe Palace runs a long set of artificial cascades which delight visitors during the summer months. Every Sunday and Wednesday afternoon (from May until October) the famous water features take place. They start at the Oktagon and during a one hour walk through the park visitors can follow the water's way until they reach the lake of the castle Wilhelmshöhe where a big fountain of about 50 metres marks the end of the spectacle.

The Löwenburg ("Lions Castle") is a replica of a medieval castle, also built during the reign of Wilhelm IX. After the Franco-Prussian War of 1870/71 Napoléon III was imprisoned in Wilhelmshöhe. In 1918 Wilhelmshöhe became the seat of the German Army High Command (OHL): it was there that the military commanders Hindenburg and Ludendorff prepared the German capitulation.

Karlsaue park with the Planetarium in the Museum of Astronomy and Technology[]

Another large park and also part of the European Garden Heritage Network is the Karlsaue along the Fulda River. Established in the 16th century, it is famous for the Orangerie, a palace built in 1710 as a summer residence for the landgraves. Today there is also a planetarium in the park. In addition, the Park Schönfeld contains a small, municipal botanical garden, the Botanischer Garten Kassel.

Art museums[]

In 1779 Europe's first public museum, named the Museum Fridericianum after its founder. By the end of the 19th century the museum held one of the largest collections in the world of watches and clocks.

  • Schloss Wilhelmshöhe (Antiquities Collection and Old Masters: Albrecht Dürer, Rubens, Rembrandt, Frans Hals, Anthony van Dyck)
  • Museum Fridericianum
  • New Gallery (Kassel) (Tischbein Family, Joseph Beuys)
  • Hessisches Landesmuseum closed, under renovation until 2012 (with a world-famous wallpaper collection).

Other museums[]

  • Museum of Natural History (in the Ottoneum-building)
  • Museum of physics and astronomy in the Orangerie (Kassel)
  • Marmorbad (marble bath) in the Orangerie (Kassel)
  • Caricatura (in the Hauptbahnhof Kassel)
  • Museum of Local History
  • Tram-Museum Kassel
  • Technical Museum and Henschel Museum
  • Louis Spohr Museum
  • Brother Grimm Museum


Hessen Kassel is the football club in the city and plays at Auestadion.

Kassel has a long ice hockey tradition.[5] Kassel Huskies played from 1977 to 2010. Kassel Huskies ran into financial difficulties and dissolved in 2010.[5] The "Young Huskies", which is a junior and youth hockey club, decided to enter a men's team in the Hessenliga.[5] This is the fifth division and the lowest men's competition in the state of Hesse.[5] The new club was expecting no more than 3,000 supporters for the first home game in the Hessenliga.[5] However, they had over 5,000 supporters come to watch.[5]


Trams in Kassel

Kassel has seven tram lines (1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8), with trams arriving usually every 15 minutes. The city also operates a light-rail Stadtbahn network called RegioTram using Regio Citadis low-floor trams which run on both tram and main line railway tracks with four lines (RT3, RT4, RT5, RT9). Moreover, a number of low-floor buses complete the Kassel public transport system. The introduction of low-floor buses led to the development of the Kassel kerb which improves the accessibility at bus stops.

The city is connected to the national rail network at two stations, Kassel Central, and Kassel-Wilhelmshöhe. The traditional central station (Hauptbahnhof) has been reduced to the status of a regional station since the opening of the Hanover-Würzburg high-speed rail line in 1991 and its station (Kassel-Wilhelmshöhe) on the high-speed line at which the InterCityExpress (ICE) and InterCity services call.

Kassel is connected to the motorways A 7, A 49 and A 44.

The city is served by Kassel Calden Airport.

Education and research[]

University of Kassel

University of Kassel[]

The University of Kassel was founded in 1971, and is the newest university in the state of Hesse. The University offers twelve international master's programs as well as two short-term international programs, the Summer University and the Winter University. The Kunsthochschule Kassel is also part of the university.

Other institutions[]

  • Fraunhofer-Institut für Windenergie und Energiesystemtechnik (IWES), former Institut für Solare Energieversorgungstechnik (ISET)
  • Fraunhofer-Institut für Bauphysik (IBP) Projektgruppe Kassel
  • Forschungszentrum für Informationstechnik-Gestaltung (ITeG)
  • Internationales Zentrum für Hochschulforschung Kassel (INCHER)
  • Zentrum für Umweltbewusstes Bauen (ZUB)
  • Center for Interdisciplinary Nanostructure Science and Technology (CINSaT)
  • AG Friedensforschung


  • German War Graves Commission
  • Gesellschaft für Christlich-Jüdische Zusammenarbeit Kassel
  • Spitzenverband der landwirtschaftlichen Sozialversicherung
  • Deutsche Rentenversicherung Hessen
  • Industrie- und Handelskammer Kassel (Chamber of Commerce Kassel)


Several courts are located in Kassel, including:

  • Federal Social Court of Germany (Bundessozialgericht)
  • Hessischer Verwaltungsgerichtshof (Administration Court of Hesse)
  • Hessisches Finanzgericht
  • Sozialgericht Kassel (Social Court Kassel)
  • Arbeitsgericht Kassel, (Employment Court Kassel)
  • Verwaltungsgericht Kassel
  • Oberlandesgericht Frankfurt/Main in Kassel
  • Landgericht Kassel (Regional Court Kassel)
  • Amtsgericht Kassel and Staatsanwaltschaft Kassel (Local Court Kassel)

Famous people[]

The Brothers Grimm and historic buildings of Kassel on the last 1000 DM banknote

  • Valerius Cordus (1515-1544) physician and botanist who authored one of the greatest pharmacopoeias and one of the most celebrated herbals in history.
  • William IV, Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel (1532-1592)
  • Landgravine Charlotte of Hesse-Kassel (1627-1686)
  • Maria Amalia of Courland (1653-1711), noblewoman, participated in the creation of the park at Karlsaue.
  • Simon Louis du Ry, architect (1726-1799).
  • Prince Charles of Hesse-Kassel, (1744-1836).
  • Prince Frederick of Hesse-Kassel, (1747-1837).
  • Gertrud Elisabeth Mara, (1749-1833) operatic soprano.
  • Georg Friedrich Sartorius, (1765-1828) research historian and economist.
  • Jérôme Bonaparte (1784-1860), brother of Napoleon Bonaparte, while he was king of Westphalia.
  • The Brothers Grimm, academics, linguists, cultural researchers, and authors who collected folklore and published several collections of it as Grimm's Fairy Tales.
  • Rudolf Erich Raspe (1736 – 1794), a University of Kassel librarian who fled to England after embezzling significant funds from Frederick II, Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel and wrote (or compiled) The Surprising Adventures of Baron Munchhausen.
  • Louis Spohr (1784-1859), the 19th-century composer and violinist, who is commemorated by a museum in the city.
  • HSH Princess Augusta of Hesse-Kassel (1797-1889), Princess and Landgravine of Hesse-Kassel, consort to Field Marshal HRH The Prince Adolphus Frederick, Duke of Cambridge.
  • Albrecht Rosengarten (1809-1893), architect famous for synagogue buildings in central Europe.
  • Justus Carl Hasskarl (1809-1894), botanist specialising in Pteridophytes, Bryophytes and Spermatophytes.
  • Paul Reuter (1816–1899), founder of the Reuters news agency.
  • Louise of Hesse-Kassel (1811-1898), Princess and the queen consort to King Christian IX of Denmark.
  • Israel Meyer Japhet (1818–1892) who later became choir director in Frankfurt am Main.
  • Adolf Eugen Fick (1829–1901), physiologist.
  • Hugo Wilhelm Arthur Nahl (1833-1899), the artist who designed the Seal of California.
  • Philipp Scheidemann (1865–1939), briefly Germany's Chancellor after World War I.
  • Andreas Dippel (1866-1932), operatic tenor.
  • Franz Rosenzweig (1886–1929), philosopher.
  • Meryem Uzerli (1983-) actress.
  • F. W. Murnau (1888–1931), movie director in the silent era.
  • Helmut Hasse (1898–1979), who did fundamental work in algebra and number theory.
  • Arnold Bode (1900-1977), architect, painter, designer and founder of the documenta
  • Leni Junker (1905-1997), athlete who competed mainly in the 100 metres.
  • Hans-Gerrit von Stockhausen (1907-1943), Korvettenkapitän with the Kriegsmarine during World War II.
  • Annika Mehlhorn, German butterfly and medley swimmer who competed in the 2004 Summer Olympics.
  • Friedrich Armand Strubberg (1806 –1889) Merchant, physician, colonist in North America. Direct descendant of Frederick I of Sweden
  • Jakob Stilling (1842-1915) ophthalmologist, son of Benedict Stilling,surgeon, and brother of Heinrich Stilling, pathologist.

International relations[]

The city hall

Kassel is twinned with

  • Italy Florence, Italy since 1952
  • Turkey Kocaeli, Turkey since 1999
  • France Mulhouse, France since 1965
  • Israel Ramat Gan, Israel since 1990
  • Finland Rovaniemi, Finland since 1972
  • Sweden Västerås, Sweden since 1972
  • Russia Yaroslavl, Russia since 1988
  • Germany Berlin-Mitte, Germany since 1962
  • Germany Arnstadt, Germany since 1989
  • Bulgaria Montana, Bulgaria since 2007
Wikimedia Commons has media related to:


  1. ^ "Die Bevölkerung der hessischen Gemeinden" (in German). Hessisches Statistisches Landesamt. 31 December 2009. 
  2. ^ "Hessische Gemeindestatistik 2010". Hessisches Statistisches Landesamt. October 23, 2011. Retrieved October 23, 2011. 
  3. ^ Edward Victor. Alphabetical List of Camps, Subcamps and Other %20 of % 20 camps. htm
  4. ^ Stanton, Shelby, World War II Order of Battle: An Encyclopedic Reference to U.S. Army Ground Forces from Battalion through Division, 1939-1946, Stackpole Books (Revised Edition 2006), p. 150
  5. ^ a b c d e f "German hockey team skates from financial brink back to rink". Deutsche Welle. March 20, 2011.,,14912617,00.html. Retrieved March 21, 2011. 

External links[]

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