UNESCO's World Heritage programme is based on the central principle that »parts of the cultural or natural heritage are of outstanding interest and therefore need to be preserved.«
To qualify, the heritage must meet three basic requirements: exceptional cultural and/or natural significance, historical authenticity, and integrity. Together, they are referred to as a property's Outstanding Universal Value (OUV).
UNESCO acknowledges Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe as a unique cultural landscape. The water features are considered an outstanding, unparalleled example of the monumental water engineering structures of European Absolutism; the Hercules statue is the most sophisticated colossal statue of the Early Modern age, both as a work of art and an engineering achievement. Nowhere else in the world was a place like this ever created: a park on a steeply sloping hillside featuring huge, artistically and technologically accomplished water structures such as those built at Kassel from 1691 onwards by Landgrave Carl and his successors.
Higher, faster, further – those were the standards set by the rulers of Kassel. In realising them, the park's topography played a major part. It was the inspired use of the terrain that resulted in the overwhelming monumentality of the water features. Towering above them, the Hercules statue functions as a landmark visible for miles around. It inspired later generations of rulers to develop the park and its structures into an ever more complete representation of their own power, expanding it further and adding yet more features to put their own stamp on it. At the same time, remarkable scientific and technological innovations were developed at the court of the Landgraves of Hesse: they, too, were required to operate the sensational water theatre.
The process summarised in brief here has been described in full in the nomination dossier (download c. 45 MB) compiled for the World Heritage nomination.