Capital of boredom? No way! Hanover has much more to offer visitors than just flawless High German. With a population of around 530,000, the city on the banks of the River Leine is one of the 15 largest cities in Germany. Internationally known primarily for CeBIT, it is a great place to stroll along beautiful half-timbered houses and visit picturesque parks and gardens. Bremen, Hamburg or Berlin are only a stone’s throw away and the Lüneburg Heath or the Steinhuder Sea are in the immediate vicinity. The capital of Lower Saxony is definitely worth a visit.
Tip 1: City Hall
It is not for nothing that the New City Hall stands in a row with such famous German sights as Neuschwanstein Castle, the Brandenburg Gate or Cologne Cathedral. Although at first glance you might think you’re looking at a palace, the magnificent Wilhelminian building with its spectacular dome is not the former home of highborns, but the seat of the mayor, the Hanoverian city administration and the citizens’ office.
Nevertheless, the landmark is of course also open to visitors, who can climb the 97.73-meter-high dome in the world’s only arched elevator: First, the elevator climbs vertically before transporting its guests to the top at an angle of seventeen degrees. Not only does the glazed roof of the cabin offer the possibility to follow the ride, but also a window at the bottom. Once at the top, one is then rewarded with a breathtaking view of the nearby Maschsee lake and the hustle and bustle of the city. City models show Hanover in the years 1698, 1939, after the world war and today.
By the way, if you’ve always wanted to take a look behind the scenes, you can do so during an exclusive tour of the city hall.
Tip 2: Lake Maschsee
It’s hard to believe, but Hanover consists of 50 percent green space. Particularly worth seeing is the approximately 80-hectare Lake Maschsee, which is barely a stone’s throw from the New City Hall. Whether it’s pedal boating, a detour in the beer garden, a leisurely stroll or simply relaxing in a beach chair – here you get that vacation feeling in the middle of the city. The picturesque Lake Maschsee is not only a destination for sports enthusiasts, but also the backdrop for the largest open-air event in all of northern Germany, the three-week Lake Maschsee Festival.
Hanoverians say that if you haven’t been to the Lake Maschsee, you haven’t really been to Hanover at all. One more reason to pay it a visit.
Tip 3: Historic Centre
Looking at the idyllic alleys with their historic half-timbered buildings, inviting cafés and small stores, it is hard to believe that Hanover’s old town center was almost completely burned out after the Second World War. But at the end of the fifties, the remaining half-timbered houses in the city began to be demolished and rebuilt collectively in the area around the Market Church and the Old Town Hall. Today, Hanover once again has a historic core that is worth seeing and invites visitors to shop and stroll around. In the immediate vicinity there is much worth seeing, such as the Holzmarkt with the Leibniz House, the Kreuzkirche (Cross Church) built in 1333 and the Ballhofplatz.
By the way, you do not need a map in Hanover to find your way in the old town, because here literally runs through a red thread that leads to 36 sights. The red line painted on the pavement measures a total length of 4,200 meters and makes discovery tours on your own child’s play – a tourist guidance system of a completely different kind. For those who want to know exactly what they’re looking for, there’s an accompanying brochure that explains all the attractions along the red line in more detail, and most recently, there’s even an appropriate app.
Tip 4: Herrenhäuser Gardens
Hanover is rightly one of the greenest major cities in Germany. Every year, the baroque garden art of the Herrenhäuser Gardens attracts around half a million visitors, impressing them with colorful diversity and paradisiacal beauty. Built at the end of the 17th century on the French model, it features water features, fountains, cascades, gallery buildings, a maze and an orangery.
During the summer months, theater performances, garden festivals and the famous International Fireworks Competition are held here. A special highlight is the grotto, which was created in the 19th century: pieces of pebbles, glass and mirrors transform it into a work of art made of colors and light. Extremely worth seeing! The Berggarten (Hill Garden) also houses Europe’s largest collection of orchids in the botanical garden and an aquarium.
Tip 5: Castles of Herrenhausen and Marienburg
Those who like to walk in the footsteps of the former kingdom of Hanover should definitely visit the castles of Herrenhausen and Marienburg. Destroyed during World War II and only lavishly rebuilt in 2011, Herrenhausen Palace once served the Guelph dynasty as a summer palace and venue for prestigious receptions and dinners. Today, its walls house not only a modern conference center, but also a museum displaying Baroque treasures with more than 500 exhibits.
As an alternative, Hanover also has Marienburg Castle on offer. Built in neo-Gothic style, the hunting lodge was once a gift from King George V to his wife, Queen Marie of Hanover. After her departure into exile, it was inhabited only by the janitor for almost 80 years. During a guided tour of the palace, you can marvel at the royal splendor and learn a lot of interesting facts about courtly life in the 18th century before enjoying a royal meal in the adjoining restaurant.