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Kassel ( ; until 1926 officially Cassel) is a town located on the Fuldamarker in northern Hessemarker, Germanymarker, one of the two origins of the Weser river. It is the administrative seat of the Kassel administrative regionmarker (Regierungsbezirk) and of the districtmarker (Kreis) of the same name. In 2007 the town had approximately 198,500 inhabitants and has a total area of 107 square kilometers (41 square miles). Kassel is the largest town in the north of Hesse (Nordhessen).


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 of their conveyance is not known.
A map of Kassel in 1648.
In 1567, the landgraviate of Hesse, until then centered in Marburgmarker, was divided among four sons, with Hesse-Kassel (or Hesse-Cassel) becoming one of its successor states. Kassel was its capital and became a center 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 Westphaliamarker under Napoleon's brother Jérôme. The electorate was restored in 1813.
Having sided with Austria in the Austro-Prussian Warmarker for supremacy in Germany, the principality was annexed by Prussia in 1866. The Prussian administration united Nassau, Frankfurtmarker 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 center as well as a major railway junction.

In 1870, after the Battle of Sedanmarker, Napoleon III was sent as a prisoner to the castle of Wilhelmshohemarker above the city.

Wilhelmshöher Allee.
World War II: Kassel was the Headquarters for Germany’s Wehrkreis IX, and a local subcamp of Dachau concentration campmarker provided forced labor for Henschel facilities. 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 US Army captured Kassel on 3 April 1945.

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 Germanymarker (Bonnmarker won).

Main sights

Due to the destruction of 1943 the city was almost completely rebuilt in the fashion of 1950s. Hence there are a very few old buildings in downtown. 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.

What historic buildings have remained undamaged are mainly outside the center of town. Wilhelmshöhe Palace, above the city, was built in 1786 by landgrave Wilhelm IX of Hesse-Kassel. The palace now is a museum and houses a world-famous wallpaper collection, 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 Wilhelmshöhemarker with many appealing sights. The Oktagonmarker 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. 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 seat of the German Army Command (OHL): it was there that the military commanders Hindenburg and Ludendorff prepared the German capitulation.

Another large park 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 Kasselmarker.

Kassel is scene of Documenta, an important international exhibition of modern and contemporary art. Museums include: Schloss Wilhelmshöhemarker (Antiquities Collection and Old Masters; wall paper museum), Museum für Sepulkralkultur (the only German Museum for Sepulchral Culture); Art Gallery (Albrecht Dürer, Rubens, Rembrandt, Frans Hals, Anthony van Dyck), New Gallery (Tischbein Family, Joseph Beuys).

Tram in Kassel.
The Oktagon above the city.


The city operates a tramsystem (streetcar); a Stadtbahn-like system with light rail vehicles running on both main line rail and railroad tracks, called Regio Citadis line RT3 that runs to Warburgmarker. The city also operates buses and managed the development of the Kassel kerb which improves the alignment of modern low-floor buses with bus stops.

The city is connected to the DB network by two stations, Kassel Hauptbahnhofmarker, and Kassel-Wilhelmshöhemarker. The traditional central station (Haupbahnhof) 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 (Wilhelmshoehe) on the high-speed line where InterCityExpress (ICE) and InterCity services call at.

Kassel is connected to the interstates or freeways autobahn services A 7, A 49 and A 44.


The University of Kasselmarker was founded in 1971, and is the newest university in the state of Hessemarker.


In 1558 the first German observatory was built in Kassel, followed in 1604 by the Ottoneum, the first permanent theater building, and in 1779 by 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. 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 and the next will be in mid-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).

Famous people

Famous inhabitants of Kassel include Jerome Bonaparte, brother of Napoleon Bonaparte, while he was king of Westphalia; the Brothers Grimm; F. W. Murnau, the movie director; Paul Reuter, founder of the Reuters news agency; Franz Rosenzweig, philosopher, Philipp Scheidemann, briefly Germany's Chancellor after World War I; and Louis Spohr, the 19th-century composer and violinist, who is commemorated by a museum in the city. Astrid and Thorwald Proll, members of the German terrorist group the Red Army Faction (also known as the Baader-Meinhof gang) active during the 1970s and 1980s, were born here in 1947 and 1941, respectively. Kassel is also the birthplace of Annika Mehlhorn, a German butterfly and medley swimmer who competed in the 2004 Summer Olympics. Helmut Hasse (1898-1979) did fundamental work in algebra and number theory. Rudolf Erich Raspe, a Landgrivate Councilman who fled Kassel with a substantial part of the Princely coffers to England. There he writes a much-read book " The Occurrences of the Baron von Münchhausen". Diego Sanmartin, editor of "Entre Vecinos", one of the most important newspapers in Caracas.

International relations

Twin towns — Sister cities

Kassel is twinned with


  1. Edward Victor. Alphabetical List of Camps, Subcamps and Other %20 of % 20 camps. htm

External links

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