KASSEL is the largest city in northern Hesse. Internationally, it’s renowned for the documenta contemporary art exhibition, which rolls in every five years, taking over the city and leaving a legacy of public sculpture unique in Germany. Between times Kassel falls off the radar. True, the centre is dull – as single-mindedly devoted to shopping as any in Germany – but the city’s interesting museums include one devoted to the Brothers Grimm, the parks are among the most extraordinary eighteenth-century garden landscapes in Europe, and the setting, fringed by wooded hills, is lovely. And for those who don’t relish hanging out in shopping centres, the leafy, attractive Vordere Westen quarter – between the city centre and Wilhelmshöhe – has all the elegant Jugendstil architectural details and relaxed café life you could wish for.
For visitors, Kassel is a linear city, with most of the sights at either end of Wilhelmshöher Allee – in the east are the city centre’s museums and a beautiful park, Karlsaue; in the west there’s the exceptional landscape and art collection of Wilhelmshöhe. Hotels and places to eat and drink are scattered between the two.