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.
Despite the fact that a typical Hanover restaurant is much the same in Hanover as anywhere else, the city has a great number of diverse and interesting restaurants scattered across the Hanover. But there are also a great number of smaller, but very individual places which are really worth discovering. As in most German cities, there are a substantial number of Italian restaurants, which are very diverse in value and quality. You will also find many Greek and Balkan restaurants and ethnic Spanish places. French cuisine, however, is rare. For local German restaurants you'll get all the facets, which are as diverse as the country itself: hearty Bavarian dishes, pancake specialties, potatoes in all possible variations, sauerkraut and highly nutritious vegetarian meals.
If you love rustic Bavarian comfort, ambiance and dishes, visit Bavarium. As well as good hearty food and Bavarian beer, you can also experience the blue-white folklore style, just like you would imagine a Bavarian Bierzelt. Although the restaurant has 200 seats it is very crowded most of the time, if you go there in groups, a reservation is recommended. You can also expect a cozy and homey German ambiance at Vater & Sohn, a very rustic environment with some of the best fried potatoes around. Right beside the historic Kröpcke Clock in the middle of the pedestrian district, you'll not only be able to taste the legendary ice cream which gave the place its name, you can also enjoy high quality international dishes, as the house encompasses several restaurants: Café Kröpcke with Swiss specialties, the American-oriented Opus 1, the vegetarian Grünschnabel. Neustadt & Südstadt
Da Lello is a very popular place in the Südstadt. For more than 17 years it has been a Mecca for high society and VIPs. The restaurant also guarantees high class Italian dishes. So does the small but very exclusive Roma. If you are looking for Chinese food in the center of Hanover, you should note the Ente Von Peking, it is the only restaurant in Hanover where you don't have to order the Peking duck in advance. If you love homemade German food, you should also check out the Pfannkuchenhaus in the Calenberger Strasse. Here you'll get all sorts of truly tasty pancakes, which are baked over an open fire and served with real maple syrup. A bit more high-class is the Landhaus Ammann.
Oststadt & Südstadt
When in the Oststadt and Südstadt area, take a walk around the Maschsee, an artificial lake in southern Hanover. You'll find the Bell'Arte first, a fine Italian restaurant with ever-changing art exhibitions and a great view of the Maschsee. Then there is Pier 51, which is built on the lake, once a yacht school it has been rebuilt into a wonderful restaurant with international food. One of the best 600 restaurants in Germany is the multi-honored Die Insel. The specialty here is pleasant with cream and cabbage in Champagne. If you dine on the big terrace, you'll have a great view of the Maschsee. The Oststadt is mostly about high quality dishes. You'll find one high class gourmet temple after another, especially on the Listermeile and around the Weißekreuzplatz. A must is Clichy, of course, run by Eckkehard Reimann, a much honored cook who is very popular not only in Hanover for his French cuisine; the second Reimann restaurant, Königsberg, on the Lister Meile quickly became famous for its high quality German and international meals. At the historic Plümecke you can experience quite the opposite: the old Listermeile and the Old Hanover in a rustic ambience with curried sausages and brawn! Make a stop at Confiserie Mövenpick for a delicious dessert.
Nordstadt, Linden & Outskirts
For years now, a central and highly recommended address for South American specialties has been Chimu (Nordstadt). Besides the very famous turkey in chocolate sauce, you can get high quality fish dishes and other delicacies from South America. Chimu is also a favorite meeting point for many prominent people. For Italian dishes in the Nordstadt go to Gattopardo. The municipal district Linden is is also special as most of the Spanish and Portuguese restaurants are based here. Sängerburg (despite the German name a classical Spanish restaurant!) and the Algarve, have fine Portuguese cuisine and very good seafood dishes. If you like Turkish food, you should visit Tandure (but never without reservation!) or Büfe, which is a bit hidden in the Schwarzer Bär. You can also expect great quality organic French dishes at La Provence. In Hanover's surroundings, La Forge in Schmiedegasthaus Gehrke has been number one in Lower Saxony for years; and the creative cuisine of the restaurant Endtenfang in Fürstenhof Celle is improving by the year.
Even when there aren't any exhibitions going on in Hanover, it is worth visiting Lower Saxony for all its attractions.
Anyone who wants to learn about Hanover and its history should start with a tour through the city center and the old part of town. A good place to start is the Main Station, dated from 1880 with its "Stationmaster" King Ernst August. Right across from the station is the biggest pedestrian passage where the shopping center begins.
There is also the Kröpcke, the most central square in Hanover and a favorite city-center meeting place, now free of cars and tramways. It is named after a business-minded headwaiter of the famous café that once stood at this square—now Mövenpick. The walk goes on to the Opera House, which was built in 1845. Originally it served as the royal theater. The new opera house is a classical style building with two large wings and a balcony with statues of famous poets and composers.
Then you have Georgstraße and Georgplatz. Since the end of construction work on the underground transit system, Hanover's magnificent showpiece boulevard stretches from Steintor to Aegi, presenting itself in old splendor. On sunny days the wide sidewalks lined with cafés and some of the finest shops will make your visit to the area a great one.
When at the Osterstraße your should stop a moment to view the ivy and vine ridden ruins of Church of Aegidien, one of Hanover's medieval churches. It is likely that as early as the 10th Century a small chapel stood in this place. In the 12th century a Roman basilica, whose Western wall is still preserved to some extent, replaced this chapel.
From Osterstraße you are close to Hanover's old part of town. This area was built more than a five centuries ago. The earliest part (from 1410) overlooks the Schmiedestraße (Blacksmith Street), the later wing next to the market was erected on the foundations of the 13th century trade hall. The adjacent wing in the Koebelinger Straße is called the "Chemists" Wing (Apothekenflügel), because it was the location of the Town Hall's pharmacy.
You then come to the Marketplace, which was at the very center of urban expansion in Hanover. Merchants and craftsmen used to live around here. In the 14th century, the Marktkirche (the Church on the Marketplace) was built here. Together with the old Town Hall to the right they are considered to be the southernmost specimens of the "North German neo-Gothic" style.
Along Kreuzstraße the way leads to the Ballhofplatz. The Ballhof, built in 1649, used to be a sports hall designed for badminton—a fashionable gam of the times. Later it was used as an assembly hall and eventually became a theater. The Ballhofplatz was only created in the 1930s when during a redevelopment process many old buildings in that area were demolished.
Also nice to visit is the Leineschloß, today the Parliament building for Lower Saxony, and the Historical Museum.
Very interesting, but outside the inner city are the Herrenhäuser Gardens, the Zoo, Waterlooplatz and the Maschsee.
If you are only in Hanover for a short time these tour sights can also be seen in about three hours by bus (information: +49 511 36 8880).
There are also pleasant tours by boat on the rivers Ihme and Leine. By boat you can see old canals and locks like the Hindenburg locks (information: +49 511 1234 5111). The other possibility is to enjoy a round trip of the lake or an illuminated evening cruise (including dinner) in one of the white Maschsee fleet ships at Rudolf-von-Bennigsen-Ufer which is opposite the Sprengel Museum (information: +49 511 70 0950).
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.