Hannover - more to it than you’d think and certainly a whole lot more than I thought it could offer. First with the spelling . The Germans spell it with two N’s and everyone else with one. Slowly but surely the double N is becoming more widely accepted as the correct way to spell Hannover.
With a population close to 600,000 it is the largest and also capital city of Lower Saxony, and the 13th largest city (by population) in Germany. It’s importance in earlier days lay in the fact that it was at the cross roads of the trade routes both east-west and south-north. Despite this it never flourished commercially nor in wealth. What it’s local industry did attract was a lot of bombing attention in WWII . Over 90% of the city centre was destroyed in 88 bombing raids held specifically to halt the manufacturing sector during the war. Today Hanover is a Vice-President City of Mayors for Peace, an international mayoral organisation mobilising cities and citizens worldwide to abolish and eliminate nuclear weapons by the year 2020.
Arriving into Hannover and the first thing you’ll undoubtedly see is the VW tower. Built in 1958 as a telecommunication tower , today that purpose has been superseded by modern technology and it is primarily a billboard for Volkswagen who have a massive production plant on the outskirts of the city. They are also the single biggest employer of labour in the region.
People are not wealthy in Hannover . The average monthly income is a mere €1,800.
Outside the Hauptbahnhof (train station for those of you not up to speed with German) you’d be forgiven for thinking cycling was the only mode of transport.
Upon arrival in Hannover the first thing you have to do is pop down to the tourist office opposite the Hauptbahnhof and grab yourself a self guided booklet in a language of your choice (there’s 7 to choose from) called “The Red Thread”.
This is how it works. With book in hand you depart the tourist office and follow a red line that’s painted into the pavement for a 4.6 km walk past the main sights of Hannover. Using the book as a reference along the way with numbered stops and also advice on where best to stand in order to take optimum picture of each sight. A brilliant concept and I am surprised more cities don’t do it.
Galarie Luise- 155 metres long , 12 meters high and home to 40 of Hannovers most prestigious shops.
Kubus municipal gallery that hosts 8 local exhibitions each year. Poking up behind it is the spire of the ruined Aegidienkirche .
The Aegidienkirche which is basically now just a courtyard was once the largest place of worship in Hannover dating back to the 9th century . During the war it was bombed to within an inch of its existence with only the walls remaining and part of its Baroque Tower. Today it’s been left as it was back after the bombing raids of 1943 as a testament and memorial to the destruction of war. Every day at 0905, 1205, 1505 and 1805 it’s single bell tolls as reminder of peace. 5 mins past the hour so as not to be lost in the cacophony of other bells in the city ringing on the hour.
More of the Aegidienkirche. To walk around its interior, devoid of a ceiling , and yet recognise it once as a place of worship was quite moving. Moreso given the message it’s non-reconstruction delivers about the horrors of war.
Hannover’s “New” town hall... functional and in use by the city government every day. You can take a small 7 person lift to the observation tower in the dome. The 45 minute queue precluded me from doing it.
Not sure why, but apparently the archers arrow is pointed directly at the Lord Mayors office.
Construction began in 1901 and was completed in 1913. Because of the marsh it was built upon the construction workers had to ram 6,026 beech beams into the marshy soil in order to achieve a solid base upon which to build .
Parts of the interior look like one of those Esher 3D drawings we all marveled at some stage in our lives
The red line, on a Saturday, takes you straight through Hannovers oldest flea market. Like every other it’s ostensibly junk. Just happens to be junk with a German influence .
Voluminous sculptures by the German artist Niki De Saint Phalle . Originally reviled by locals they are now a focal point for Hannovians who want to meet up on Saturdays. Such was the u-turn in sentiment that the artist has now bequeathed 300 pieces of her work to the cities galleries .
The Ballhof building which was originally a gym built in the 1640’s is now part of several buildings that make up a stunning place to sit and drink a glass of wine and people watch on an equally stunning spring day.
Just another dull “old town” steeet in Hannover
Entrance to the Market Church . Built in the 14th century and a classic example of North German Brick Gothic architecture
Some impressive organ pipes inside that classic example of North German Brick Gothic architecture too.
The old town hall. Primarily used for concerts and seminars and marriage registrations these days. Typical Hannover taxi awaits a newly wed couple outside the hall.
Next time you think you’re doing it tough at work spare a thought for this guy . Earning a living carting around a hot sausage grill selling Bratwurst rolls at €2 a pop.
Spring time in Hannovers main shopping pedestrian mall.
The sunset reflects off the Hannover Opera House .
Tomorrow Gareth.W arrives from London. He has joined me on my previous two long rides (London to Rome and Spain to Norway) for 4-5 days a time and together we will help him complete the second stage of his London to Istanbul ride with this year the segment being Hannover to Prague.