Most cities in this website were afforded a single chapter unless they were among the largest and best known. For example, Berlin, Warsaw, and Prague earned such treatment. But, after taking well over a hundred photographs in the northern Hessen city of Kassel, I realized that I had more than enough material to justify a full three-chapter spread for the city. The three sections were distinct enough that condensing them into a single travelogue would do no justice -- the city was three-places-in-one, each independently worth visiting. And, the city was about as large and spread out as Berlin. Measuring out my walking path, I estimated that I combed about twenty kilometers on foot over the weekend, and loved just about all of it.
This came as a pleasant surprise, really, as beforehand I had read a couple accounts of Kassel in travel guides that praised the city, yet diminished it due to its modernization after World War II. Kassel was the site of munitions factories, therefore was subject to significant bombing and much damage. Much of the new city was formed with 1950s-vintage utilitarian architecture that clashed with the sturdy, iconic yellow-and-red-brick buildings from before.
One thing Kassel did not develop was urban sprawl, at least not to the extent of other important industrial cities that rebuilt in the 1950s and 1960s. Instead, Kassel retained its natural beauty. It boasted some of the prettiest and largest artificial waterways and cascades I've ever seen, and had miles upon miles of walking and biking trails.
Kassel also had its share of important residents, but none were more important than the Brothers Grimm, who in the early 19th century collected and published volumes of German folk tales (some of which turned out to be French or Italian in origin). It was from these collections that some of the most popular children's tales came: Little Red Riding Hood (Rotkäppchen), Snow White (Schneewittchen), Hansel and Gretel, and The Frog Prince to name but a few. But the Brothers Grimm did far more than simply publish fairy tales, they were linguistic pioneers who helped unite the many German dialects of the time into a single language. This was something I did not previously know. Kassel was a major stop along Germany's Fairy Tale Road (the Märchenstrasse).
Kassel was conveniently located midway on the main train line between Frankfurt (Main) and Hannover, and was a good central location for visiting many other northern Hessen destinations (Fritzlar and Marburg were both short drives away, for example).
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Trip taken 15-16 March 2003 -- Page last updated 24 October 2006 -- (C) 2003 Tom Galvin