Last week, in Part I of my walking tour of my home town of Hannover, Germany, I introduced you to the Opera House, the Schorse and a coffee roast house from 1873.
Today I will share Stops 7 to 12 with you and hopefully you will see why I love this city so much.
Stop 7 – Aegidienkirche
This church is from the Middle Ages, although it is believed that a small chapel may have stood on this spot as early as the 10th century. A Roman basilica was erected here in the 12th century and in 1347 a gothic church replaced the basilica. From here the reformation spread through Hannover. As so many buildings in this city, the church sustained a serious amount of damage during WWII, so much so, that only the outer walls and the bell tower remained. The church was never rebuild, instead it was dedicated as a memorial to all victims of war and violence.
The original bell tower contained four bells and their songs were loved throughout Hannover. The bell tower was restored in 1958 and 25 bronze bells were installed, which ring 4 times a day. The quirky bit about this is that the bells actually ring at 09:05, 12:05, 15:05, and 18:05. The bells ring 5 minutes later so that their sound cannot be drowned out by the other church bells. The bells play three different songs; in August, for instance, you can hear Wohlauf in Gottes schöne Welt.
The church also contains a peace bell, which the city of Hannover received in 1985 from its partner town of Hiroshima. The bell has a twin, which hangs in Hiroshima. Every 6th August a special memorial service to commemorate the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima is held in this church. As part of this service the peace bell is rung at the same time as its twin in Hiroshima chimes.
Stop 8 – The Spartan Stone
This stone is no bigger than a tall grave stone, but size isn’t everything in this case. The stone used to be one of the seven landmarks of Hannover. It shows the scene of seven men kneeling in prayer underneath a cross. The stone is known as the Spartan Stone (or the Seven Man Stone), based apparently on a legend that seven men (Spartaner) were killed in one of the defence towers, but this legend does not stand up to scrutiny. The original stone is in Hannover’s Historical Museum, the one you can see in the church is a replica.
Stop 9 – Kubus – The City Gallery
This art gallery is not privately owned, but instead is run by the city’s art council and associated art schools. The gallery was built in 1962 and contains no windows so as not to disturb the enjoyment of the art. The Kubus is known for predominantly exhibiting local artists, but it also works together with the city’s partner towns in Poland, Japan, France and Great Britain. Whilst I am not a great fan of its architecture, I do like the piece of giant art displayed on the one side of this building.
Stop 10 – The Archer
As you walk between stops 9 and 10 you will pass a piece of the old town wall dating from the 14th century, one of the very few pieces left in place.
As you make your way along the red line you will get views of Hannover’s best-known landmark the Rathaus (Town Hall). Towards one side (the left as you look at the front of the Rathaus) you will see the statue of an archer. This is a bronze replica of an Italian plaster statue, which is housed in Munich.
Try and look along the archer’s arrow and see what it is aiming at. Yes, that’s right, he is aiming at a window in the town hall, which happens to be the office of the mayor of Hannover. Apparently this is to remind the mayor to do a good job.
There was a motion a few years ago by some members of the city council to have the statue moved to the Maschpark, overlooking the lake and thereby have the archer aim into the open, as apparently him taking aim at the mayor was deemed to aggressive. Thankfully some sensible people voted against this motion and so the Archer remains in his original spot where he has stood since 1939.
Stop 11 – The New Rathaus
Stop 11 is probably my favourite stop. This building is the New Rathaus (town hall). I like to call it the New/Old Rathaus, as it was built in 1901, so doesn’t really qualify any longer to be called “New”. However, it cannot be called the Old Rathaus, as the old rathaus is still standing in Hannover’s old town.
One of the great things about this town hall is that you can go all the way to the top via a lift. Now this is not an ordinary lift, no, this one actually curves along the inside of the cupola, which is a rare thing indeed.
The current lift is fairly new; I remember the old one, it rattled up and down along the walls making your body shake all over. As a little child I used to like it, as I grew older I also grew more afraid of the lift falling all the way to the bottom. Thankfully the old lift always made it safely up and down. I do miss the old lift, but I must admit that I rather like the glass top and bottom of the new replacement!
For a much more detailed write-up about my favourite building, please visit my previous post.
Before we move on to Stop 12 the little guide-book (see Part I for details of this nifty little book) gives you the option for a side trip. It will take you along the Maschteich, which is the smaller lake at the back of the town hall, past the Lower Saxony State Museum, the Sprengel Museum (which has some fabulous art on show) and then to the Maschsee, which is the large lake you can see from the top of the town hall, and then onto the Football (Soccer for the North Americans amongst you) Stadium and the Schützenfestplatz, which is where the big fun fairs in the year take place.
Stop 12 – August Kestner Museum
The building is also known as the house of 5,000 windows. This outer shell, dating from 1961, was literally wrapped around the old building, which was the only way to conserve the beautiful interior architecture.
The museum is named after its main benefactor; Mr Kestner was an art collector who lived in Rome and worked at the Vatican. An interesting fact about him is that his mother, Charlotte Kestner (nee Buff), in her youth was the love of the famous German Poet Goethe.
August Kestner left his fast collection to his son, who donated it to the city of Hannover.
The Kestner Museum is the oldest museum in Hannover, having been in existence for over 120 years.
The museum has art from the past 5,000 years and there is something for everyone.
I hope you enjoyed our tour this week and will join me next week where I will introduce you to a few royal houses and a former palace.