Hannover is the capital of the federal state of Lower Saxony in Germany. The city is an important commercial center and a trade fair and festival center. It is lovely with its extensive parks and gardens so Hannover claims to be “the city in the country”.
You’ll be amazed by the wonderful Herrenhausen Gardens which include the lovely English-style park Georgengarten and the Berggarten, a botanical garden with orchid and cactus houses. At the north end is the impressive Mausoleum that was built in 1846 for King Ernest Augustus and Queen Friederike, also containing the tomb of George I of England. Drawing attention is the rebuilt Herrenhausen Palace, home to a museum displaying artifacts and documents relating the city’s Baroque era.
The Grosser Garten dates back to 1666 and is the best-preserved example of an early Baroque garden in Germany. Visitors take pleasure in the cascades, fountains, an orangery and a garden theater.
The Wilhelm-Busch Museum gives visitors a look into the life of famous poet and designer Wilhelm Busch. Here are permanent displays of caricatures and comic art and it is home to the world’s largest collection of Busch’s work. One of the highlights is a unique collection of over 700 caricatures of Napoleon. This museum was founded in 1937 and has found its home in the impressive 18th century Georgenpalais in Herrenhausen Gardens.
The beautiful Marktplatz is located in the center of the Old Town where you’ll get to see many of the city’s historic buildings. Among the most notable buildings is the 15th century late Gothic Old Town Hall. It is home to many small shops and galleries. In front is the magnificent neo-Gothic Market Fountain built in 1881.
Another impressive structure is the Market Church with its 97 meter tower. It dates from the 14th century and has a wonderful 15th century bronze font and carved altar.
From the Marktplatz stretches Krammerstrasse with many handsome half-timbered houses.
In Trammplatz is the huge Town Hall, built between 1901 and 1913 in the style of the Wilhelmine period. It was built on a foundation of 6,026 beech piles and topped with a domed tower almost 100 meters high, dominating the city skyline. The dome has a four observation platforms which can be accessed from a unusual elevator that lifts five passengers at a time at a sloped angle, offering spectacular views of the city. Inside the hall are models of the town and the Hodler Room has a huge painting – The Oath of Loyalty, that dates from 1913.
On the magnificent Georgestrasse is the neo-Classical Hanover Opera House, built in 1852. Today it is home to the city’s professional opera company. Its season runs from September to June.
Exploring the Old Town there are many interesting things to see including Leineschloss, the state parliament building. This building was constructed on the riverbanks in the 17th century as a residence for Duke George von Calenberg and altered in the neo-Classical style between 1817 and 1842.
Another impressive building is the New Town Church, from the 17th century and home to the tomb of the famous German philosopher GW Leibniz. Of interest is Hannover’s finest half-timbered building the Ballhof, built between 1649 and 1665 for the then fashionable games of battledore and shuttlecock as well as for concerts. It is now home to the Lower Saxony State Theater and is still a popular music venue for pop, jazz and opera.
Opposite the New Town Hall is the Lower Saxony State Museum. It is home to many important collections of antiquities. The most popular is the State Gallery with its collection of European art from the Romantic period to the present. Here you’ll also find Germany’s oldest archaeological and ethnological collections with over 20,000 artifacts including many species of fish and reptiles.
Right in the heart of Hannover is the Maschsee, an artificial lake. It was completed in 1936 and stretches for 2.4 kilometers and is 530 meters wide. It counts as the city’s largest and busiest sports and recreation area. It is very popular with boaters and swimmers. The lake has many pathways just great for strolling and finding a spot to picnic. On the west side is the Niedersachsen Stadium, built in 1954 on the mounds of rubble from buildings that were destroyed by the war. Another great place to stroll is Herrenhauser Allee dating from 1726 with many attractive historic buildings.
The Hanover Adventure Zoo was founded in 1865 on the edge of Eilenriede Park. It is the fifth oldest zoo in Germany and has been remodeled as a theme park. There are such fun areas as the Winter Zoo with Christmas themes and activities as well as a children’s area, Mullewapp, with a petting zoo and rides. Other attractions inlude the Meyers Farm, where 19th century Lower Saxony half-timbered structures can be explored and the Disney-like Zambezi River boat ride through the open-cages of animals like rhinos and elephants.
One of Germany’s most important modern art collections is in the Sprengel Museum. The museum opened in 1979 and has both private and state owned collections. The gallery is well-known for its numerous art works by local artist Kurt Schwitters as well as art works from other artists like Max Ernst, Picasso and Paul Klee. It is also home to a collection donated by well-known artist Niki de Saint Phalle and a large metal sculpture by Alexander Calder.
On the east side of Hannover is the lovely municipal forest of Eilenriede, covering an area of almost 1,600 acres. This is the largest inner-city forest in Europe with many foot and bridle paths. There are also playing fields and open space for relaxation. It is often referred to as the “Grune Lunge” or green lung.
There is also Hermann Lons Park, a lovely landscaped park with an old windmill.
Next to it is the Tiergarten, dating from 1679 as a hunting park with old trees and some 200 red deer, wild horses and wild pigs.
The sculptures Die Nanas helped make French artist Niki de Saint Phalle famous. These are three earth-mama sculptures set by Leine River in 1974. The voluptuous and florescent-colored “Sophie”, “Charlotte” and “Caroline” are now popular and most loved landmarks.
The Renaissance facade of the Leibnizhaus is a reconstruction. The house was home to mathematician and philosopher Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. In front of the house is the Oskar-Winter-Brunnen. If one makes a wish and turns the small brass ring embedded in the ironwork three times, folklore has it that the wish will come true.
The Waterloo Memorial is a 46.3 meter column that commemorates the victory of German, British and Prussian forces over Napoleon in the Battle of Waterloo in June 1815.
The Telemax Radio Tower gets illuminated in rainbow shades when a major trade fair in taking place in the city. The broadcast tower is operated by Deutsche Telekom and is 282 meters high, including the 10 meter high base building. It was designed by Hans U. Boeckler and built from 1988 to 1992. It received the cement-steel prize Die Kunst des Bewehrens for the towers truss structure.