City walk: Wesertor and the Bleichwiesen

16 Nov 2023
A short walk east from the modern centre lands you in a dull-looking area that is in fact one of Kassel's oldest districts. Once, the Wesertor city gate at the crossing of Weserstrasse and Schützenstrasse gave access to Kassel's old city centre, with its narrow streets and timber-framed houses. Wartime bombing and post-war developments destroyed nearly everything – but stroll along with us for some surprising sights and insights.

From the documenta-Halle on Friedrichplatz it's nicest to head down to the river and stroll east (left) along the banks, along Die Schlagd and the moored cruise boats, under the Fulda bridge and past a newly restored riverfront to the old Karlshospital, originally built in 1720 as a prison. Walk around this building and back to the river to find a small bridge across the mill canal leading to the Finkenherd island – one of the last remnants of the 18th-century city defences, most of which were demolished by 1780.

Continue on the path and cross another bridge back to the mainland and you're on the Werder. This flat and marshy area bordered by an old stretch of city wall was long useless for anything except target practise and linen bleaching; it's still known as the Bleichwiesen or bleaching meadow. After decades of postwar neglect, the area was recently regenerated in a project involving residents of the neighbouring district. The banks of the small river Ahna were landscaped to give it a more natural look, and paths and footbridges opened up the new park, allowing you to walk to the mouth of the the Ahna. Three historical leather tannery buildings form the centre of the new recreational area, and there's a petting zoo for children too.

Along the route, you'll find food, refreshments and a good excuse to have a beer while enjoying the great river views at Karl's in the former Karlshospital, and at the restaurant and Biergarten on Finkenherd island.


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