Germany has over 20,000 castles. If that seems a bit crazy to you, you’re not alone! While we won’t be able to visit all of them while we live in Germany, we definitely have a list of ones that are high priority. For some time, one of them has been Löwenburg, or “Lion’s Castle” – sometimes also referred to as Schloss Wilhelmshöhe.
Perched above the town of Kassel between Frankfurt and Hanover, Löwenburg Castle is located within a larger UNESCO site called Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe. From two different bus stops and parking areas – both above and below the forested park – visitors can hike to any number of attractions within the park. We visited three: the Hercules Statue with its famously engineered water features, Löwenburg Castle, and the hiking trails of Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe. Of the three, Löwenburg was my personal favorite. For UNESCO bucketlisters, the Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe complex is an easy one to check off your list.
The Hercules Statue and water feature are probably the most famous features of the park. The Hercules Statue itself is a huge octagonal stone pyramid at the top of the hill. It’s topped with an 8 m tall statue of Hercules, the Roman god famous for his strength. Stairs allow visitors to climb to a viewing tower high on the pyramid for extensive views of the surrounding German countryside.
The Hercules Monument and water features are currently undergoing renovations to restore them to their original condition. During our visit, the monument was shrouded in scaffolding, which unfortunately marred ts appearance. The viewing platform was also closed, and cranes surrounded the main water feature. If you’re planning a visit, it might be best to wait until work is complete.
Starting at the Hercules Statue at the top of the hillside, the water feature is a series of carefully crafted man-made channels and waterfalls. It takes just over an hour for the water released at the statue to arrive at the Grand Fountain at the bottom of the hill. The innovative engineering and construction helped seal its protected status as a UNESCO site, one of 41 in Germany.
Unfortunately, it’s not possible to see the water feature in action all the time. Workers only open the flood gates at the top a couple of times a week, so if you have your heart set on seeing it in action, plan accordingly.
Scroll to end for the official schedule.
From the Hercules Statue, you can descend the steps to the plaza below. If you’re feeling famished or need a sweet pick-me-up, turn right to the little hole-in-the-wall place with an outdoor eatery. They serve snacks, ice cream, and the best iced coffee in Germany!
Just a brief jaunt down the hill and you’ll arrive at Löwenburg Castle, one that frequently makes one Top 10 Castles of Germany list or another.
Though it looks like your perfect medieval castle – dark and brooding and fallen into ruin over the centuries, it was actually built at the turn of the 19th century.
The interior was closed during our evening visit, but I’ve heard that it’s quite posh inside with Baroque decor. We briefly peaked through the cold metal bars of the front entrance, then continued exploring the perimeter.
Löwenburg Castle Grounds
A series of arched walkways near the castle leads visitors to more walkways hemmed in with hedges and the occasional fountain or statue. Plan on spending a half hour or so wandering among the fountains, statues, and carefully arched hedges.
As a country estate, Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe also offers a beautiful, fairly extensive system of trails, several of which lead from the castle back to the Hercules Statue and parking area at the top of the hill.
If you opt for public transport, you can simply hike a bit further downhill back to Kassel or catch a bus below the castle without having to hike back uphill. If you don’t mind the exercise, though, you can always hike.
For those interested, Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe includes a museum, luxury hotel, and other attractions we didn’t visit. You can easily spend an entire day exploring the sprawling UNESCO site. Just make sure to check the opening hours for each separate attraction because they aren’t open at the same time, particularly with current renovations. If you’re flexible though, just swing by anytime and you can explore park grounds for free. Even on a gray and drizzly day, it’s a beautiful place to spend a few hours outdoors.
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Know Before You Go
The place is dog-friendly and the trails are great for hiking; if you have a furry friend, bring him along!
Bergpark is generally open to visitors, but the museums, castle, and water feature all have their own opening hours/schedule. Check before your visit to make sure the sites you want to see are open.
The water feature operates Sundays, Wednesdays, and on public holidays. It starts at 2:30 pm at the Herkules Statue and takes just over an hour to reach the Grand Fountain at the bottom of the hill.
Note that other features of the Bergpark – Teufelsbrücke, Steinhöfer Waterfall, etc – are quite possibly dry or mostly dry when the fountain isn’t running.
Parking is free in a large lot at the top of the hill near the Hercules Statue. If you’re visiting while the water feature is operating, particularly on a Sunday or holiday, the parking lot will likely be full. Public transit is available as well.
It’s FREE to explore the Hercules Statue (though the upper portion may be closed), the water features, and the exterior castle grounds.