At first glance, Hanover (Hannover in German) seems easy to grasp. However, there are quite a few corners worth a second look: the old buildings from the time when Hanover was reigned by a king, the idyllic green areas where you can relax and enjoy nature and the culturally diverse districts which are interesting to explore.
In Hanover, people meet "under the tail" of
Just opposite, you will find Hanover's most expensive shopping boulevard where jewelers, perfumeries and expensive boutiques await potential customers. In the evening the GOP and the New Theater offer entertainment.
On Sunday mornings during summer, people meet in the Georgstraße for the "Schorsenbummel", with music and open-air bars. This traditional "stroll" dates back to King Georg II; "Schorse" is Hanover's nickname for George.
Altstadt (Old Town)
Of all the original narrow streets and picturesque buildings, only about 15 percent survived World War II. But the mix of designer boutiques, restaurants and historical architecture form a lively part of town. The old half-timbered houses around the Holzmarkt (Wood Market), the reconstructed renaissance facade of Leibniz's house, the
On Saturday mornings, a large
Südstadt (South Town)
Traditionally, Hanover's districts are identified with social groups. According to this, the southern part of the town is inhabited by clerks and civil servants. But on its outskirts, all of Hanover likes to practice running, Rollerblading, or cycling around the
A vast green area starts behind the
South of the Maschsee, the green area continues with the Döhrener Masch and the Ricklinger ponds. Situated close to the town center these bathing ponds are very popular in summer. People cook on barbecues, fly kites and have parties. One of the ponds is nudist, at the others bathing clothes are advisable.
This traditional working class district was one of North Germany's first industrial centers. Today, a multicultural society prevails peacefully, impossible to imagine Linden without Spanish restaurants and Turkish groceries. However, the old natives there still speak a special Linden dialect. The district displays the self-confident image of an independent town. The redevelopment has rendered a friendlier face to the blocks; only the shopping center, Ihme-Zentrum, is an unsightly relict of the concrete prevalence.
A positive example of today's culture in Linden is the listed building of the former bed spring factory, Faust, now used as a concert hall and place for meetings and events. On Hanover's only natural hill, the Lindener Hill, the Jazz Club stages outstanding concerts, and at the top, around the Lindner tower, there is a very popular beer garden.
Oststadt (East Town) & List
Many of the beautifully ornamented Art Deco houses in this area are inhabited by media personalities, artists, actors or musicians. The residents are possibly the reason why this district shows quite a concentration of restaurants and pubs! At the North-eastern end of the Passarelle (the subterranean arcades under the main station) the so called Bermuda-triangle starts; an accumulation of clubs, bars and cafés where you can easily get lost.
During the day, passers-by exchange greetings and glances on the Lister Meile, a shopping street leading through the district. Bordering on the East Town and extending to Kleefeld and to the Maschsee you'll find Hanover's municipal forest, the
If you love old patrician houses, you will find some interesting examples here.
Formerly the North Town was a worker's district, but for decades Hanover's students have occupied it. The University itself is a ostentatious building designed as a Welfen castle in 1857. But in the streets behind it, the houses are narrow and show traces of the times. A colorful mix of people congregate in student pubs, public meeting places and squats, and the times when punks would scare the older inhabitants off with "chaos days" seem to be over for good.
Hanover's famous gardens start opposite the university.
The city of Hanover offers its visitors many different possibilities to stay overnight. The hotels and hostels are mainly arranged around the city center and the area where the EXPO takes place (Messegelände). But of course in all other areas you will find hotels or hostels as well.
Due to the very efficient public transport system you will easily find your way around the city, as well as to your hotel. The best known hotel in the city is the Arabella Sheraton Pelikan.
Another very good hotel is Landhaus Ammann, which is known for its exquisite cuisine. This hotel offers only 16 rooms, but every single one is decorated individually and has its own unique style.
People who prefer staying in a comfortable hotel right in the city center should consider the Maritim Stadthotel, Karstens Hotel Luisenhof or the Grand Hotel Mussmann. These three hotels are located within walking distance of the Main Station.
For visitors who want to stay near the EXPO facilities the Best Western Parkhotel Kronsberg, or the Hotel Copthorne would be a nice choice.
Close to the airport are the Holiday Inn Crown Plaza and the Maritim Airport Hotel. Airport shuttle and soundproof windows guarantee a comfortable and quiet stay.
In the city center or near the trade fair you will find cheaper hotels like the das Concorde Hotel am Leineschloß, Hotel Körner or the Hotel Kaiserhof. Less expensive but not exactly cheap are the Hotel Loccumer Hof and the Hotel Thüringer Hof. All these hotels offer a pleasant atmosphere.
The Hotel Britania is located next to the trade fair and has special facilities for kids as well as special offers for families.
For all those who have a smaller budget the city of Hanover offers a wide range of inexpensive hotels and youth hostels, many located near Expo and the Maschsees. The city center is only a 20 minutes bus or train ride away. However, these places tend to have higher prices during important trade fairs.
Museums & Galleries Hanover has quite a few art museums and galleries, some of which have a very good reputation worldwide. Internationally renowned is the Sprengel Museum for its collection of classic Modern art. Located right beside the Maschsee, it presents high value exponents from recent times: Beckmann, Chagall, Ernst, Klee, Nolde, Picasso and also Hanover's famous Dadaist Kurt Schwitters. Also, a very interesting place is the Kestnermuseum. Since 1884, it has presented diplomat and collector August Kestner's collection. Above all you can see exponents from Egypt, Greek, Etrustic, Roman and post-antique art here. Also on show here are many modern, contemporary art galleries. Something not to forget is the Wilhelm-Busch-Museum (named after the first comic artist in the world who lived in a village near Hanover). You can expect ever-changing exhibitions of comic, cartoon, caricature and graphic art in this classic little palace in the middle of the Herrenhäuser Gärten. Of course you can find Wilhelm Busch's works here too.
The cinematic scene in Hanover is very hard to beat. You won't be able to find another German city that presents such a large and varied program. A cinema worth mentioning is Cinemas on the Raschplatz. Here you can see the latest Hollywood movies plus a great selection of independent films.
You can expect to see plays of an international standard on Hanover's stages. It took some time; however, for Hanover to receive a good reputation in this genre. Above all, the Landesbühne deserves a mention. It successfully presents classics in a modern style. The Opera at the Opernplatz, and the Schauspielhaus are popular all over Germany and even abroad. You can also expect high class acting and plays at the Ballhof. The theater is divided into two buildings, the Ballhof and Ballhof 2, the latter presents smaller shows. If you take a walk through the Hanover's center, you can't overlook the Theater am Aegi's big imposing glass façade. This theater is without a doubt the town's premier address for high-class comedy and cabaret. Nearly all famous German actors have been here at least once. You can experience Cabaret, political and smaller comedy acts, at the Theater in the Küchengarten which was founded by the German cabaret artist Dietrich Kittner. Some of the best venues for cabaret and variety acts are the Alcazar and the GOP-Variety in the Georgspalast. Both locations present international travesty, magic, and comedy performances. Last but not least, this guide would not be complete without mentioning the Theaterwerkstatt (theatre workshop), which is located in the Pavillion on the Raschplatz. Here, fine dramas and plays are presented with a great sense of atmosphere and have often been highly commended.
Despite the fact that there are a lot of music halls and stages for bands and orchestras in Hanover, locations with acceptable acoustics and venues for more popular bands are very rare. The only venue acceptable for a medium pop act is Capitol. In this former cinema you can see decent temporary bands in a good atmosphere for reasonable prices. You can count the bigger venues on the fingers of one hand. The Eilenriedehalle is a big concrete block with awful acoustics. You must also be a very devoted fan to survive a concert in one of the big Messehallen at the fair, which are often misused for concerts. The factory atmosphere and the bad acoustics are hard to bear. Be warned! The historic Kuppelsaal right beside Eilenriedehalle is a far better spot for concerts. This hall has a plush ambiance and very good sound; it's an ideal place for classic concerts and high-ranking pop events. Acts like the Pet Shop Boys and Bryan Ferry have been featured here. Super acts like Pink Floyd can be seen during the summer months in the Niedersachsenstadion. This stadium can hold up to 40,000 people.
Music clubs and music theaters are very popular in Hanover and the city has a lot of venues for them. Beside the traditional and unique music theater Bad and Capitol, mentioned before, Altro Mondo and Faust have gained a very good reputation, especially in the last few years.
Hanover has a lot of clubs and bars, but the musical style is somewhat uniform in most of the clubs. If you are NOT into house, soul and black music, it may not be your scene. Most of the clubs have stuck to this kind of music, and it seems to work. The leading club in this genre is Palo Palo, which has been commended many times as "The best club in Hanover". You can also expect House, Soul and Funk at Zaza. Anyone who loves good pop and party music and wants to get to know people should visit Osho. In the uncomplicated ambiance of this Bhagwan club you can meet people and make friends very quickly. Osho is interesting even if you're a little longer in the tooth: On Wednesdays they have a "Thirty-something" special, anyone over 30 years gets in free. Unfortunately there are very few options for alternative sounds in Hanover, Eternity and Base are the only two. Both clubs are located near Steintor and are not very far away from each other, so you can check out both quite easily. Recommended for insomniacs are, once more, Zaza, which normally closes in the morning, and Odeon, where you can get delicious hot meals at any time of night.
Parks & Leisure Centers
Contrary to other cities, which often have their parks and green areas integrated into the streets, Hanover has large sanctuaries apart from the main city. Often described as the "Green lung of Hanover" the Eilenriede is almost like a forest that stretches from the zoo to the inner city; an ideal place for joggers, walkers and kids. Also worth a visit are the Herrenhäuser Gardens, especially the Großer Garten, an impressive and artful arrangement of theme gardens, orangeries, labyrinths, waterworks and ponds. Another beautiful spot is the Maschpark with the artificial Maschsee (Masch Lake). The possibilities are numerous at this big lake such as swimming, sailing, rowing and ice skating. Last but not least, a visit to the zoo is recommended that seems to get bigger each year with more attractions. A family friendly spot with a giant playground for your children the Zoo Hannover also offers great food.
In 1156 the town of Hanover belonged to a Count of Lauenrode and was an unimportant place. The name "Hanovere" was given to a group of farms on the banks of the Leine and was later passed on to the market-settlement founded by Count Hildebold between 1124 and 1141.
"Ego Hanoverensis sum" were the words Henry The Lion had stamped on the Hanover silver coin in 1180 "I am a Hanoverian", showing that the great 12th Century man must have been an early fan of this town. Indeed, it was the Lion who ordered that the settlement be enlarged and reinforced, a decision that showed foresight and proved very important for the town.
The small fishing settlement developed into a town under the protection of the Dukes of Roden and was then sold to the Welfen. In 1241 Duke Otto granted the town the rights of a borough. This certificate is the oldest document of Hanover's history. By that time, Hanover was already a thriving community of established traders and craftsmen.
In the 14th Century the city was fortified with a solid surrounding wall. There were three gates in the wall: the Leintor, Aegidientor and Steintor. Three gothic churches were built in the same century, Aegidienkirche, Marktkirche and Kreuzkirche. A hundred years later the old town hall was built next to the Marktkirche, all in the common brickwork style of northern Germany.
At that time Hanover became bigger and bigger. Its citizens were confident enough to profess their belief in the teachings of Luther by swearing an oath in the market square in 1533. In the Thirty Year War, in 1636, after the division of the inheritance of the rulers in the principality Calenberg, Prince George of Braunschweig and Lüneburg moved his residence to the relatively safe Hanover, a turning point in the history of the town. The citizens did not realize their luck and fought against the lord who would undermine their privileges.
Important trade routes from East to West, at the point where the north German lowland turns into the mountain range Mittelgebirge, were used again. The increasing importance of the North sea harbors strengthened the traffic on the North-South axis and added to Hanover's development. After the Seven Year War the embankments were pulled down and the city started growing again. Two boulevards were built in place of the large embankments, Georgstraße and Friedrichstraße (today Friedrichswall).
In the 19th Century, after the Napoleonic wars, Hanover became a kingdom, and when the union with England was over, it got its own king - Ernst August, whose monument now stands in front of the Central Station. At that time G.F. Laves, a well-known architect, worked in Hanover by appointment of the king.
A lot of important buildings in Hanover are based on his plans, like the Leineschloß, the Castle of Herrenhausen (destroyed in the war), the Opera House, Waterloo Square and the Central Station. Between the station and the Old Town, the Ernst-August Stadt was built. Also, new trades and companies were established there so, as things developed, the city center moved from the old town to Ernst-August Stadt.
In the 19th century the city started growing. Villages on the fringe were incorporated, but industrialization did not get going before 1866, when the Prussians annexed the Kingdom of Hanover.
Before that the King did not want the smell, dirt and noise of industry in his city so Hanover's industrial development started in the village of Linden, which was incorporated into Hanover in 1920.
As the population grew, the new urban districts of Linden began to grow. The villas, private residences and apartments from this period still characterize Hanover. This ring of residential areas was not as radically damaged by the bombs of World War II as the old part of town or the business areas.
After 1945 the British forces supported the rebuilding of Hanover. With the "Wirtschaftswunder," Hanover once again became the largest site for trade fairs in West Germany. Thanks to its trade fairs, Hanover was able to open its doors to international public.