Kassel has been first mentioned around 900 AD. Since then it has always been a provincial capital for the realms of North Hesse or Kur-Hesse.
During the 30 years war Kassels Landgraf Philipp declared for the protestants. This had an effect as later numerous Hugenots emigrated from France and brought with them their trade and skills. The impact of the Hugenots can still be witnessed in the centre of Kassel where streets are named after Hugenots.
Kassel became a considerable industrial and scientific city as can still be seen in the Orangerie museum where loads of scientific kit from the enlightenment period is on show. Noticeably the first steam pot producing a fountain was constructed in Kassel by Papin and rumors have it that he left Kassel in his steam boat a few years before James Watt got his prototype into shape.
Kassel was already a heavy industries site by WW2, where trains, tanks and planes were constructed. In the later years of the war Kassel was thoroughly bombed by English and American planes.
Kassel was home to the famous Grimm Brothers who wrote a lot of the fairy tales Disney uses today. The house that they lived in was made into a museum with a lot of interesting artifacts.
The best way to reach Kassel is by train since most of the Inter-City Express (ICE) trains and plenty of local trains stop at the Kassel-Wilhemshöhe Bahnhof, about 4 kilometres west of the city centre. The Busbahnhof Kassel Wilhelmshöhe (intercity bus station), also known as the Busparkplatz, adjoins the Kassel-Wilhemshöhe Bahnhof. Kassel's historic Hauptbahnhof (main station), also known as the Kulturbahnhof since it was redeveloped in the 1990s, is very near the city center. Trains run between the two stations. It is much easier to see the downtown area if you take a train to the Hauptbahnhof and begin your exploring from there.
From the Station, trams leave towards the town centre and one can easily walk to the Bergpark which is visible from where the trams leave. If you are staying a few days in Kassel buy a public transport Wochenkarte. Ride as much as you like on the streetcars and buses for a full week from date of issue. April 2006 price was €16. And while you are at it, don't miss out to have an Italian ice-cream somewhere on the way to the park.
Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe. Worth visiting is the "Bergpark" (Mountainpark) which is the largest in Europe and second largest park on a mountain slope in the world. The park contains the Herkules statue at its top end which is towering over the city and has become its symbol. Further the park contains loads of smaller features which are mainly Greek temples and Medival castles. There are the Rembrandts and Rubens paintings in the Schloss in the park - an entrance fee is charged. The Park also features during summer months the Wasserspiele (watergames) every Wednesday and Sunday starting from 2:30PM. Various of the features such as the Cascades (below the Herkules statue), the waterfall and the Roman Aqueduct' (which use no pumps) have their water supplies opened for half an hour or so each and the crowd of tourists will move from feature to feature starting on the higher parts moving downslope.
The Centre of Kassel itself had been thoroughy destroyed during WW2 and was rebuilt in a post-war fashion. Hence, the inner city is mainly dominated by bank and mall buildings of the modern sort. However, in walking distance from the main high street, you can reach the Karlsaue, another, french style park with some old buildings containing all sort of museums (tapstries to astrology). That area is also the usual place for the Documenta art exhibition to happen every five years.
If you get a chance to get out of the city. Near Lohfelden there are beautiful forests and ponds that have really good trails. Also just past there are some great churches and markets.
Shopping can be somewhat difficult in Kassel compared to the United States, but most of the good shopping is located close to the Rathaus so if you get off the Strassenbahn around there you can do most of your shopping. The "Fussgaengerzone" Obere Koenigsstrasse, pedestrian mall, that runs through the center of downtown, has many shops, street cafes and can be quite busy with people on Fridays and Saturdays. It starts at the old city hall and ends at the Koenigsplatz, where turns into Untere Koenigsstrasse. One of the big department stores along Koenigsstrasse is Kaufhof, where one can find good quality clothing, house wares and a food and drink department in the basement.
I found a good place to buy all of the stuff I needed for everyday things could be found at Muellers (drug store). It is somewhat like a Fred Meyer's or Target.
The best place I found to buy clothes was at the H&M right across Muellers located at Koenigsplatz. They have the best prices and clothing in my opinion around Kassel.
Bigger shopping centers outside of the center are the DEZ (Frankfurter Straße 225) and even farther the RATIO (Fuldastraße 1,34225 Baunatal).
The are many restaurants, cafes and street vendors in town. The Nordsee is a chain of stores/restaurants throughout Germany, where one can buy fresh buns with fish at their window kiosks or eat inside a small restaurant (Obere Koenigsstrasse). The butchers in Kassel sell buns with cold cuts, fresh spiced minced meat and hot sausage (Kochwurst). My favorite is: Fleischerei Barthel, Obere Koenigsstrasse, just around the corner on Wilhelmsstrasse.
There are great bakeries on every corner and throughout the city.
Another great place to eat is any of the little stands located on Konigsplatz(city centre)
You should try the specialty of this region, called "ahle Wurst". (Often written as "Wurschd"). Can be found at "Metzgerei Rohde", located in Frankfurter Straße 67
Eberts'' is a restaurant pub popular with young and old close to the Bebelplatz in the Friedrich-Ebert-Strasse.
Check out the area around the Hauptbahnhof. There you will find Clubs like the ARM and the Cuba club two of the most favourite clubs in Kassel at the moment.
The "Lohmanns's" is the oldest Pub in Town. You will find a cozy atmosphere and a good selection of drinks and snacks. Try the "Ahle Wurst", a speciality of this region. Check out Markthalle Kassel for good food, local specialties and flair: markthalle-kassel.de. This is where the locals still shop and meet for brunch on Saturday mornings.
* The "Hot Legs" and "Joes Garage", both right next to each other. Frome time to time bands play live in those bars
Kassel has its own youth hostel close to the Hauptbahnhof (main railway station).
Schlosshotel Bad Wilhelmshoehe Schlosspark 8 - Four star hotel with a superb view over Kassel or the hillside park with Palace Wilhelmshoehe, Castle Loewenburg and the Herkules.
Hotel Albatros - Oberste Gasse 11 one block SE of the Koenigsplatz and an easy walk from the Hauptbahnhof. A classic German experience with full restaurant/bar on the main level and 15 rooms on the upper two floors. All rooms with WC and shower and TV. 2008 rate was EU46 single, EU 68 double which includes a large breakfast buffet. The restaurant has daily specials, and serves reasonably priced, true German cuisine.
Ibis Hotel Kassel, Heinrich-Hertz-Strasse 3, ☎ +49 561 58940 (fax: +49 561 5894400), . A clean budget hotel located in an industrial area a couple of kilometers from downtown, right at the Autobahn exit. If you are traveling by car, this is an excellent choice, if traveling by train or other kind of transportation, not. The hotel restaurant could be compared to a fast-food joint, but again, if you have a car you can drive to the city center for a better meal.from 52 €. edit
Motel One Kassel, Rudolf Diesel Straße 5 (Kassel-Lohfelden, south of the city centre), ☎ +49 89 6650 250, . A good value hotel outside of the town centre, basic rooms, big and quiet building, bus connection to the centre.from 49€. edit