I seem to be occupied with streets of late; little pretty streets. This one is in my hometown of Hannover, Germany at the Ballhofplatz, which is a plaza in the heart of Hannover’s old town.
Posts Tagged With: Altstadt
This is Part IV of my walking tour through Lower Saxony’s capital Hannover in Germany. If you haven’t read the previous posts here are the handy links to Part I, Part II and Part III (and where have you been if you haven’t read them yet???).
So, let’s pick up the red thread where we left off last week, at Stop 19.
Stop 19 – Am Hohen Ufer (The High Bank)
As previously stated, Hannover lies on the river Leine, and this area is one of the oldest parts along this river. It is believed that the fist settlement on the high bank dates as far back as the 10th century.
One of the main characteristics is the large tower, called the Beginenturm, which was part of the old fortifications. I remember when the top part contained a pub, aptly called “Turm (Tower)”. It is part of the History Museum these days.
Hannover’s name is derived from “honovere”, which is the high east bank of the river, located opposite of this high bank.
Since 1967 Hannover’s famous Flohmarkt (flea market) has its home along these parts. It is the first and therefore oldest flea market in Germany. It is open every Saturday and pulls a large crowd. I have fond memories of this market, as my Dad used to go every so often to sell some bits and bobs when we were younger and most often than not we were allowed to go with him. It was a great atmosphere as anybody can set up a stall for a fee, so you would get people like my Dad selling items they no longer needed and you would get local artisans and small shops in amongst it all. To us kids every stall was a treasure trove and it was all my Dad could do to stop us from buying everything that took our interest.
One thing I never knew until I did some research for this post, is that the river Leine used to have an island in between the current high bank and another arm of the river. The island was densely populated and also housed the only workhouse. Those of you not familiar with workhouses should know that this is where the poorest of the poor would end up. To have to go to a workhouse was the worst thing that could happen to anyone and many people would never make it out of there again. The conditions that existed in those dark places are indescribable and it would send many people insane.
After WWII the island and the side arm of the river were filled with the rubble left behind from the allied bombs and so the poorest part of the town vanished and with it the workhouse.
Stop 20 – The Nanas
Meet Sophie, Caroline and Charlotte, the three Nanas, which are part of the sculpture mile along the east side of the river.
In 1974 Hannover’s population was up in arms over the Nanas, which were created by French artist Niki de Saint Phalle. These colourful, voluptuous ladies created quite a storm at the time. Today they are one of the much-loved art installations without which most in Hannover could not imagine our city landscape. I love the vibrant colours and their quirky bodies; the shape of these statues has always fascinated me.
Stop 21 – Hannover’s Old Town
At the time I walked the red thread there was a detour due to some building work, which meant that we actually did not go past this stop, however, as this is where I usually spent most of my time when in town, and as there are other access ways to it, we just visited this part at the end of our walk.
Despite the fact that the area looks as if it has always been this way I have to disappoint you. Whilst the majority of the houses and facades are original and are from the 16th and 17th century, this is not their original position. The houses were moved here from different streets after WWII to re-create the old town.
This area is full of great little pubs, restaurants, bistros and boutiques and makes for a great night out.
For more info please see my previous post A walk through Hannover’s Old Town.
Stop 22 – Hannover’s oldest Bürgerhaus (Timber House)
Now we enter a part of Hannover I never knew existed. But first, let’s take a look at the oldest town house in Hannover, No. 12 Burgstraβe.
As is traditional this house consists of a front part, two side wings, a back house, and a courtyard. The front is 1566 and the rest is two years older. Miraculously, the house survived WWII despite the fact that both its neighbours were bombed. Restoration on this building was done in 1976. The house is privately owned and still used as a residence.
Stop 23 – Kreuzkirche
This church lies in the middle of an idyllic part of the city. Together with the Marktkirche and Aegidienkirche it is one of the oldest churches in Hannover. It was built in 1333 and is officially called St. Spiritus et Crucis, however, a church has stood on this spot since 1284. Its tower got damaged during a storm in 1652 and thanks to a very generous gentleman of the name Johann Duve, the tower was rebuilt.
The church is simple but very elegantly decorated inside. At the time of our visit though it was closed.
The church forms the center of this small, but wonderful district, which was rebuilt after the war through a very modern initiative whereby the owners gave their land to a newly formed cooperative who repartitioned the parcels of land, thereby creating much bigger properties and creating lots of green spaces.
You enter this district via what is probably the most appropriate street name ever “Goldener Winkel” (Golden Angle), which is what this really looks and feels like.
If you have the time, explore this area a bit more away from the red thread, there is lots to discover!
Stop 24 – Duve Kapelle
This chapel was built for and by Johann Duve, the gentlemen we met in Stop 23, who was responsible for rebuilding the church tower.
Stop 25 – Ballhof
You now enter a small square which houses the oldest sporting arena in the town; the Ballhof. It was built by Duke Georg Wilhelm in 1664 and was there to accommodate his love of playing badminton (or Federball in German, which literally translated means feather ball). After this the building was given by the Duke to one of his servants who would invite comedians to play for an audience and thus it developed over time into a theatre stage.
Stop 26 – The History Museum
This is not the nicest building in town, but the exhibits inside make more than up for the outside. The History Museum has a permanent exhibit showcasing Hannover’s history over 750 years, which I remember as a child being fascinated with.
It also showcases a number of royal coaches from the time the House of Hannover ruled the Kingdom of Great Britain.
The last time I visited this museum was before our daughter was born, so more than 17 years ago. I wish I could have had more time so as to have incorporated a visit, as this is one of the museums in Hannover I really like.
Stop 27 – Leineschloss/Landtag
Stop 17 covered the Leineschloss, so this stop is all about the Government of Lower Saxony, which resides in the old palace.
Lower Saxony’s government decided in 1949 to move to the old palace and so in 1954 a design competition was held for the conversion of the palace. The local architect Dieter Oesterlen won with his design in 1956 and a year later work began to make the palace into a practical space for modern government. On 11 September 1962 the building was officially declared open for business.
So, this was our penultimate part in this walking tour. Join me next week for the last installment where we discover more about Hannover’s Old Town, meet a mathematician and end our tour under a horse’s tail. See you then!
I always love taking a walk through Hannover’s Altstadt (Old Town), so many beautiful buildings and details. I love all the small independent shops, bars, bistros, coffee houses, art shops, high-end stores and curious little one-off shops.
Every time we visit my hometown we make a point of going down there, and every time I discover something I hadn’t seen before.
Hannover was first mentioned in documents in 1100 and in 1241 became chartered. It joined the Hanseatic League in 1386. During these years the old town was a place where the poorest of the poor lived and the timbered buildings, now so revered, were of no interest to anybody, least of all the people who lived in and around them. The rich and well-off never ventured into the old town, as it was perceived to be full of crime and undesirable people.
Hannover has had a chequered history. From 1495 it belonged to the Calenberg-Celle line of the house of Welf, whose seat it was from 1636. In 1714 George Louis of that house became King George I of Great Britain (see my previous posts on the royal connection here and here). From 1815 to 1866 the city was capital of the Kingdom of Hannover, but in 1866 it was annexed by Prussia; it later became the capital of Hannover province and, in 1946, of Lower Saxony (Niedersachsen).
During World War II nearly all of the old town was destroyed, and in total three fifths of Hannover was destroyed, and only a few timber buildings dotted around Hannover survived. During the rebuilding of Hannover these buildings were moved into what is now the old town to give it back its medieval look and feel.
During December the old town around the Marktkirche is host to the annual Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas market) and the smell of gluehwein (mulled wine) envelopes the area all around.
I love the Altstadt and yes, Hannover, like most cities these days, can look a little grey and overly modern, but if you go around some of the old districts like Linden, the Altstadt or Herrenhausen you will find a wealth of history that is worth exploring further.
A lot of people in Germany believe that Hannover has no place on a tourist’s must-see list, but I disagree. If you believe that this city is dull and modern, you haven’t looked properly and missed its historic buildings, the royal connections that are everywhere, the museums that showcase some great modern art, the parks that are everywhere and the great restaurants, bistros, coffee and cocoa houses, the independent quirky shops and its flea market (the oldest in Germany).
I know I am biased, but if you are travelling into the area you must put Hannover on your sightseeing list!