Sunday, May 14, 2017

A Royal Weekend In And Around Hanover

In July of this year, Hereditary Prince Ernst-August of Hanover will marry his fiancée Ekaterina both civilly and religiously in the town whose name he bears. As I know that some fellow royal watchers will be visiting the Lower Saxon capital around that time, I thought I would share some royal sights in and around Hanover with you to offer some travel inspiration.

Ernst-August is all around
If you arrive in Hanover via train, it will be hard to miss reminders of Hanover's royal past once you leave the main station. Right in front of it, you will find a rather large equestrian statue dedicated to King Ernst-August of Hanover (1771-1851), the Ernst-August-Denkmal, located on a square named Ernst-August-Platz. And because that is not quite enough Ernst-August yet, to your right hand you will find a big shopping mall called Ernst-August-Galerie and to your left, there is the Ernst-August-Carrèe, a more posh boutique shopping experience. There is no escaping Ernst-August in Hanover... And by the way, tell a Hanoverian to meet you "Under the tail" and they will certainly know to find you under the equestrian statue of Ernst-August in front of the main station.

The jewel of Hanover's royal past clearly are the Herrenhausen Gardens. While many associate the Baroque-style Great Garden with the name, there are actually three more gardens to be discovered: the Berggarten, the Georgengarten and the Welfengarten. When taking the train to the Herrenhausen Gardens, I would recommend you to either get off at the Stadtbahn stops Königsworther Platz or Leibniz Universität to take a stroll through the Georgengarten, a landscape garden, to make your way to the more famous Great Garden. While at the Georgengarten, don't miss the Georgenpalais, now home of the Wilhelm Busch Museum. The Welfengarten, located opposite the Georgengarten, itself is neglectable, but make sure to take a look at the Welfenschloss, the supposed royal residence turned university.

Once you have arrived at the Great Gardens, the centerpiece of the garden quartett, make sure to go inside! The rebuilt Schloss Herrenhausen houses a museum that will tell you a little about the garden's history and more. The Great Garden owes much of its aesthetics to Electress Sophie of Hanover, who commissioned the French gardener Martin Charbonnier. Its sights include the Great Fountain (which is the highest garden fountain in European courts), the Gallery and Orangery Buildings as well as the more modern Niki de Saint Phalle Grotto. Simply get lost admiring the splendours of the Baroque era.

Fürstenhaus
When you leave the Great Garden through the main entrance, head left and pass the facade of the newly rebuilt Schloss Herrenhausen and walk along the little street. First you will see the timber-framed Pagenhaus, where the employees used to live, next comes the Hardenbergsches Haus, former home of the noble family of the same name. Once you cross the next small street, on your right you will find the Fürstenhaus, one of the few buildings in Herrenhausen actually still owned by the House of Guelph and their official residence in the city.

Only a stone's throw away, you will also find the Berggarten. a vegetable turned botanical garden. There are a number of green houses, lots of plants you generally won't find in these lines of longitude and latitude plus the Guelph Mausoleum. It is the final resting place of various family members including King Ernst-August I of Hanover - the one from in front of the main station - and his wife Friederike, Elector Ernst-August and Electress Sophie as well as their son, King George I of Great Britain.

After four gardens, a palace and a museum, it is time to make your way back to the city. Once again, it is best to take the Stadtbahn to Kröpcke station. From there, venture towards Hanover's old town. Admittedly, not a whole lot survived World War II but there are still several nice old buildings. If you are interested to delve deeper into history, the Historical Museum is also locted there. Otherwise, make your way all the way to the banks of the Leine river. The wall of the Historical Museum facing the river actually is part of the city's old fortifications. While the Beginenturm is located on the right side when looking at the museum from the river, the Marstalltor featuring the coat-of-arms of George I is on the left hand.

Walking along the river in the direction of the New Town Hall, you will come across the Leineschloss, former residence of the Guelphs turned state parliament, pretty quickly. Next to it is a monument to the Göttingen Seven, a group of seven professors from the most prestigious university of the Kingdom of Hanover who protested against the alteration of the constitution of the Kingdom by Ernst August I and refused to swear an oath to the new king of Hanover in 1837. The two most famous of the professors were no others than the Brothers Grimm.

Leineschloss
Following along the street, you will see the Wangenheimpalais, also a former temporary residence of the Guelph family, as well as the Laveshaus, home of court architect Georg Ludwig Friedrich Laves, on the left hand. On the right hand across the street, there is the New Town Hall. Don't let them name fool you though, it is over 100 years old - and a palace-like testament to Prussian rule in Hanover after the annexation of the Kingdom in 1866. It was opened by Emperor Wilhelm II in 1913. While there is currently construction work going on, the interior is as fabulous as that of a palace - and four large models of the city show you the changing face of Hanover over the past centuries. A worldwide unique diagonal/arch elevator goes up the large dome to an observation deck, which offers great views over the city.

If you like old buildings, you can venture from here towards the Calenberger Neustadt though there is little of royal importance to be found there. Going back to the city, also make sure to pass by the Opera House. Generally, Hanover isn't the most touristy of cities and the 36 most important sights of the city centre are connected by a 4.2 kilometres long red line painted on the pavement, the "Red Thread" - so just walk along that one and you will hardly miss a thing. All in all, Hanover is easy to discover in a day to a day and a half depending on how much walking you would like to do in a day.

In case you still got a day on your hands, why not head to Schloss Bückeburg, home of the Princely Family of Schaumburg-Lippe, a little more than half an hour away by train? If you prefer the Guelph family, it would take you about the equal amount of time to get to Schloss Marienburg via car. Taking public transport (bus), it is about an hour as there are no trains going there directly. If you would like to arrive like King George V and his family used, you shouldn't mind the 3.5 kilometres long walk to the castle from Nordstemmen station.

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