Hanover New City Hall

Hanover: What to see in the Capital of Lower Saxony?

Lacking the charm of neighboring Hansa cities, Hanover has never scored high on the list of most favorite destinations in Germany. Most people assume that this place is solely an industrial center with nothing else to see. Yet hidden beneath the “industrialized” façade is a city full of history and cultural heritage which are only visible to those with patience and a keen eye.

Rebuilt after the Second World War, Hanover’s first appearance hardly can’t knock visitors off their feet. It is a mere reconstruction of a former commercial center, with only a handful of old houses left in place. The rest is a monotonous concrete jungle. But in centuries past, the city on the eastern bank of River Leine held a key position on the northwest trading route.

It connected the Hanseatic League’s cities like Hamburg and Bremen with those in the North German Plain, as well as Rhineland-Palatinate. The city also played an important role in overland traffic skirting the Harz between the Low Countries and Saxony. By the 16th century, the city of Hanover had already become prosperous. It was a kingdom unto itself, ruled by the monarchs of Hanover.

The Downturn of Hanover

Ironically, Hanover’s strategic location also brought destruction to the city. When WWII broke out, the city was heavily bombed because it was an important railroad and road junction, as well as a major production center in Northern Germany. More than 88 bombing raids were carried out, killing 6000 people and leaving 90% of the city center in ruins.

Many of Hanover’s architectural and cultural gems suffered the same fate. They were only rebuilt decades later, including the Altstadt (Old Town), the New City Hall, as well as the Herrenhausen Gardens. Only the Aegidienkirche (Church of Aegidius) was never repaired. Just like the A-Dome in Hiroshima, this ruin was kept as a war memorial.

Church of Aegidius – A reminder of the horrors of war

1. The Old Town

Despite being recently restored, the Old Town of Hanover does emit a nostalgic feeling. The area appears as though it has been there for centuries, with a market square dominated by a Gothic church, narrow cobblestone lanes, red-brick buildings, and a row of half-timbered houses.

Some original elements such as roof tiles, bricks, or wooden frames are re-used. It’s visible in many of these buildings, including the facade of the Old City Hall or the bell tower of the Marktkirche.


2. New City Hall

Resembling a magnificent palace, the New City Hall at the southern edge of the inner city is probably Hanover’s most remarkable architecture. The construction began in 1901. But it took about 12 years and 10 million Marks (more than 5.1 million Euros) to complete this grandiose project

During WWII, the eclectic-style building was severely damaged. Fortunately, it was restored just one year after the war had come to an end. Since then, the New City Hall has been used as the residence of the mayor, as well as the seat of the municipal administration.

A closer view of the New City Hall

3. Herrenhausen Gardens

Outside the city center, the Herrenhausen Gardens are the ideal destinations for whoever wants to have access to nature. They are the heritage of the Kings of Hanover and consist of four different gardens: the Great Garden, the Berggarten, the Georgegarten, and the Welfengarten. Their history spans over centuries and today they remain a popular recreational area for Hanoverians.

A peaceful moment in the Herrenhausen Gardens
Welfengarten makes up the grounds of the University of Hanover. The university now uses the gothic castle at the garden’s center as its main building
Tree-lined walkways in Herrenhausen Gardens

3.1 The Great Garden

Among the four gardens in Herrenhausen, the Great Garden seems to be the most fascinating. This garden, as its name implies, is grand, both in scale and style. It follows the Baroque style of Versailles, with 50 hectares of lawns, walkways, fountains, and statues arranged in strict geometrical patterns

The garden also contains a maze, a palace as well as an outdoor theater. And on several summer weekends, the Great Garden is transformed into a venue for magical firework shows.

Fireworks Festival at the Great Garden

Tips for visiting Hanover

  • Visitors can travel 98 meters to the top of the City Hall via a curved lift. There are four observation platforms where you can enjoy a panoramic view of the Altstadt and the beautiful Masch Lake.
  • The gardens are reachable by Tram 4 and 5, departing from Hanover Steintor.
  • While the Georgegarten and the Welfengarten is a public area and freely accessible, visitors have to pay admission ticket for the Great Garden and the George Garden. Please note that they only open until 18:00.
  • An extra ticket is required for the firework shows. The garden will also light up after the shows for one more hour.
  • Hanover is an ideal base to explore Marienburg Castle. It’s the token of true love, which dwells between King George V, the Last King of Hanover and Queen Marie of Saxe-Altenburg.


12 thoughts on “Hanover: What to see in the Capital of Lower Saxony?”

    1. You welcome! If I remember correctly there was a time that the monarchs from the House of Hanover even ruled the British Empire. Marriage surely brought benefit at that time 🙂

      1. In the golden times of monarchies in Europe nationality was not such a great topic like today. The husband of the actual British Queen a German but with deep roots in Greece, and now a Britain. Royalistic migrants!

      2. I think globalization has a deep root, and migrants weren’t an issue in the centuries past. In fact, if there were no migrants, Europe would be a wasteland after the Black Death and all the wars. But now, as the world is more connected, they started raising question about national identity. How strange! 🙂

  1. Jolene – Sydney, Australia – Jolene is a banker by trade, a writer at heart, and is a contributor to Thought Catalog. You are welcome to peek into her adventures and reflections on films and life at "SoMuchToTellYou", her ultimate love affair with words.
    Jolene says:

    What I like about Europe is that every town/city has its own story and rich history. I didn’t even know Hanover was for Cebit, thanks for the education. The fireworks are awesome! 😊

    1. It was indeed an amazing show! But it was only the first round of an international firework competition. I wonder how great the Finale looks like 🙂

  2. Many years ago now I was in Hanover at a World Expo (working). Spent quite some time there but never got to have a proper look around the city. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Bama – Jakarta, Indonesia – Based in Jakarta, always curious about the world, always fascinated by ancient temples, easily pleased by food.
    Bama says:

    Reading about how many historic buildings in Germany (and other countries) were damaged during WWII always makes me sad, but learning about their reconstruction is encouraging — it makes me think of cities in war-torn countries today. When the war is over and peace returns, there’s always hope that destroyed monuments can be rebuilt to its original appearance.

  4. It is good to see stories of re-growth/repair. It is uplifting. Thanks!

  5. Alison and Don – Occupation: being/living/experiencing/travelling In our sixties, with apparently no other authentic option, my husband Don and I sold our apartment and car, sold or gave away all our stuff and set off to discover the world. And ourselves. We started in Italy in 2011 and from there have travelled to Spain, India, Bali, Australia, New Zealand, SE Asia, South America, Egypt, Japan, etc. - you can see the blog archive. We travelled full-time for nearly six years, and then re-established a home in Vancouver. We now travel 2-3 months per year. We are interested in how the world works, how life works, how the creation of experience works, how the mind works. As we travel and both "choose" our course, and at the same time just let it unfold, we discover the "mechanics" of life, the astounding creativity of life, and a continual need to return to trust and presence. Opening the heart, and acceptance of what is, as it is, are keystones for us both. Interests: In no particular order: travel, photography, figure skating (as a fan), acceptance, authenticity, walking/hiking, joy, creativity, being human, adventure, presence, NOW. Same for Don except replace figure skating with Formula One motor racing.
    Alison and Don says:

    Hanover looks lovely! I’ve hardly spent any time in Germany and would love to explore more. Clearly there things in/near Hanover worth seeing – especially that Great Garden!

    1. Thank you, Alison 🙂 If possible, you should include the firework show in the plan. I’ve seen many performances, but the one at the Great Garden is truly spectacular.

      Personally, I think you can spend weeks to explore Germany. There is a huge difference between regions, in term of culture and landscape.

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