Towering 530 metres above Kassel, the city's landmark – the Hercules Monument – crowns the Bergpark, offering an incomparable view of the city and its surroundings.
The monumental structure consists of three parts: the Grotto, fashioned to look like living rock, which is also the fountainhead of the water displays; the open Belvedere surmounting it; and the Pyramid with the 8.30-m copper-wrought Hercules statue.
The layout was devised at the end of the 17th century by Landgrave Carl (r. 1677–1730), who in 1701 commissioned the Italian architect and water engineer Giovanni Francesco Guerniero (1665–1745) to refine and implement the design. Guerniero remained in charge of the project up to its completion in 1717. The Hercules statue was created by Augsburg goldsmith Johann Jacob Anthoni, one of the earliest copper-wrought monumental statues in the world.
To the Landgrave, the structure represented the triumph of art over nature and the omnipotence of human ingenuity. In Hercules, the mythological paragon of strength, courage and resourcefulness, he saw his own virtues as a ruler embodied. Consequently the entire layout consisting of the Hercules Monument, the grottoes at its foot, and the water features are a perfect example of a Baroque »architecture of power«. This show of strength by a ruling prince, which is also reflected in the monumental layout of the park, is unique in the world; it is what constitutes to so-called »Outstanding Universal Value« of the World Heritage property of Wilhelmshöhe Park.
[Ever since its construction, the ensemble has been plagued by structural damage, owing mainly to the less than weatherproof tuff stone used in the building but also to defects in construction, and in places the insufficient load-bearing capacity of the subsoil. Major renovation work has been necessary over the years and up to the present day.].