Hanover: By George! This is a German gem

Three hundred years ago the Hanoverian dynasty came to the British throne. William Cook visits their Teutonic hometown

Three hundred years ago, an obscure German Duke called Georg Ludwig became King of Great Britain and Ireland and this summer his Teutonic hometown is celebrating his unlikely accession to the British throne. From 1714 to 1837, George I and his descendants ruled Britain and Hanover in tandem. From 17 May to 5 October, five local exhibitions illuminate the lives and times of these eccentric Georgian kings.

Hanover's Historical Museum (00 49 511 168 42352; bit.ly/Historisches) has built an exhibition around George IV's state coach (which, given his hefty bulk, must have been pretty sturdy). The Wilhelm Busch Museum (00 49 511 1699 9911; karikatur-museum.de), which houses a large collection of antique cartoons, is mounting a more irreverent display. With their many faults and foibles, the Hanoverian kings inspired a golden age of caricature. Gillray's wicked portrait of George IV is one of the highlights of this cheeky survey. The Landesmuseum (00 49 511 980 7686; landesmuseum-hannover.de) takes a broader view, assessing the achievements of the composer Handel and the philosopher Leibniz, alongside the monarchs they served.

Ironically, given its close ties with Britain, Hanover was particularly badly bombed by the RAF during the Second World War. Rebuilt in a hurry, the city still bears the scars. Prosperous and businesslike, the city centre is a pleasant place to wander, but much of its post-war architecture is bland and uninspiring. Many of its most historic sites are on the leafy outskirts.

The Herrenhausen gardens The Herrenhausen gardens A 10-minute tram ride out of town, Herrenhausen (00 49 511 1684 4543; hannover.de/Herrenhausen) was the rural retreat of our Georges, a sort of Hanoverian Versailles. Destroyed by British bombers in 1943, it's been beautifully rebuilt. There's an exhibition here too, but the biggest draw is its splendid baroque gardens. George I is buried here, the only English king since William the Conqueror buried outside England.

Remarkably, nearby Celle (about half an hour away by train) survived the Second World War almost unscathed. Its Residenz Museum (00 49 5141 12372; residenzmuseum.de), in the ornate castle, is also staging an exhibition about the Hanoverians. Even if you don't see the show, the town's half-timbered Altstadt (old town) is well worth an outing in its own right.

For British visitors to Hanover and its surrounding countryside, these shows are an ideal way to learn about the cultural links that Britons and Germans share.

UNPACK

Kastens Hotel Luisenhof (00 49 511 30 440; kastens-luisenhof.de) is a five star, but even if you're on a budget, there are bargains at weekends, with doubles from around €100, room only. With its penthouse gym and prime location – just a few minutes' walk from the main station – that's not bad at all for such a posh hotel. Founded back in 1856, it was bombed in the war and rebuilt thereafter. It's well worth the €15 supplement to upgrade to a smarter superior room.

THINK LOCAL

One of Germany's oldest and most famous variety theatres, the Georgspalast (00 49 511 3018 6710; variete.de) has been staging cabaret in Hanover ever since the 1920s. Its house style still recalls the decadent nightlife of the Weimar Republic. However, this thrilling show's biggest selling points are artistry and athleticism. The choreography is sensual, but there's no nudity. Superb dancing is supplemented by mesmeric juggling, tumbling and conjuring, accompanied by a brilliant three-piece band. Most of the punters are couples but families are welcome, with reduced rates for under 15s. From €15.

EAT

A huge lake in the middle of Hanover, the Maschsee is a great escape from the workaday bustle of the city centre. You'd never guess it was entirely artificial, dug out in the 1930s to create work for the unemployed. The best place to drink in the view is at Pier 51 (00 49 511 807 1800; pier51.de), a stylish modern restaurant built on a jetty over the water. For lunch, soup, a big salad and a dessert costs €20. For dinner, try the trout with potatoes and mustard sauce, followed by a selection of local cheeses, from €29.50.

DRINK

Like most other German cities, Hanover is awash with bierkellers, but for more distinctive (albeit non-alcoholic) refreshment, head for Friedrich Bartel's Hollandische Kakao Stube (00 49 511 304 100; hollaendische-kakao-stube.de; closed Sundays). This "Dutch Cocoa House" has been an institution since 1895. The best time to visit is around 4pm for Kaffee und Kuchen ("cake and coffee" – the equivalent of high tea in Germany). A cup of coffee and a slice of the local Baumkuchen costs €4.90.

SPEND

Hanover's bustling Markthalle (markthalle-in-hannover.de) is the heart of the city, a place where locals meet for a quick drink and a bite to eat and then grab a few provisions. This is the best place to buy German sausages or chocolates. If the weather's too fine to sit indoors, it's the perfect place to buy food for a lakeside picnic – the peaceful Maschpark is a short walk away.

DON'T MISS

The privately owned Schloss Marienburg (00 49 506 934 8000; schloss-marienburg.com; 10am-6pm daily, €6) is mounting its own tercentenary display. "The Way To The Crown" (until 9 November) charts the emergence of the House of Hanover, but it's the romantic setting – perched on a steep wooded hill – which makes it so special. A train to Nordstemmen takes 20 minutes from Hanover's central station.

Getting there

William Cook flew from Heathrow to Hanover with British Airways (0844 493 0787; ba.com) and back to Stansted with German Wings (0906 294 1918; germanwings.com). Flights are also offered from Birmingham or Manchester with Flybe (01392 683 152; flybe.com).

More information

Hanover Tourist Office: 00 49 511 12345 111; hannover.de

German National Tourist Office: 020 7317 0910; germany.travel

Sport
Brendan Rodgers is confident that Sterling will put pen to paper on a new deal at Anfield
footballLIVE: Follow all the latest from tonight's Capital One quarter-finals
Voices
Lucerne’s Hotel Château Gütsch, one of the lots in our Homeless Veterans appeal charity auction
charity appeal
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
tv
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
people

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

Voices
Jimmy Mubenga died after being restrained on an aircraft by G4S escorts
voicesJonathan Cox: Tragedy of Jimmy Mubenga highlights lack of dignity shown to migrants
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
Life and Style
tech
News
Not quite what they were expecting
news

When teaching the meaning of Christmas backfires

Arts and Entertainment
Angelina Jolie and Sony Pictures co-chairman Amy Pascal at the Golden Globes in 2011
film
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Ashdown Group: Data Manager - £Market Rate

    Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Data Manager - MySQL, Shell Scripts, Java, VB Scrip...

    Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - Bedfordshire/Cambs border - £32k

    £27000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - near S...

    Recruitment Genius: Class 1 HGV Driver

    £23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This successful group of compan...

    Recruitment Genius: HGV Class 2 Lorry Driver / CPC and HIAB Training Provider

    £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A HGV Class 2 Lorry Driver is required t...

    Day In a Page

    Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
    Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

    Meet Racton Man

    Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
    Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

    Garden Bridge

    St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

    An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
    Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

    Joint Enterprise

    The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
    Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

    Freud and Eros

    Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum
    France's Front National and the fear of a ‘gay lobby’ around Marine Le Pen

    Front National fear of ‘gay lobby’

    Marine Le Pen appoints Sébastien Chenu as cultural adviser
    'Enhanced interrogation techniques?' When language is distorted to hide state crimes

    Robert Fisk on the CIA 'torture report'

    Once again language is distorted in order to hide US state wrongdoing
    Radio 1’s new chart host must placate the Swifties and Azaleans

    Radio 1 to mediate between the Swifties and Azaleans

    New chart host Clara Amfo must placate pop's fan armies
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'It's life, and not the Forces, that gets you'

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'It's life, and not the Forces, that gets you'

    The head of Veterans Aid on how his charity is changing perceptions of ex-servicemen and women in need
    Torture: It didn't work then, it doesn't work now

    Torture: It didn't work then, it doesn't work now

    Its use is always wrong and, despite CIA justifications post 9/11, the information obtained from it is invariably tainted, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Rebranding Christmas: More public bodies are refusing to give the festival its name for fear of causing offence

    Rebranding Christmas

    More public bodies are refusing to give the festival its name for fear of causing offence. They are missing the point, and we all need to grow up
    A Greek island - yours for the price of a London flat

    A sun-kissed island - yours for the price of a London flat

    Cash-strapped Greeks are selling off their slices of paradise
    Pogues could enjoy fairytale Christmas No 1 thanks to digital streaming

    Pogues could enjoy fairytale Christmas No 1 thanks to digital streaming

    New system means that evergreen songs could top the festive charts
    Prince of Wales: Gruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence

    Prince of Wales: Gruff Rhys

    He is a musician of wondrous oddity. He is on a perpetual quest to seek the lost tribes of the Welsh diaspora. Just don't ask Gruff Rhys if he's a national treasure...