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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Ashdown Group: Technical IT Manager - North London - Growing business

    £40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A growing business that has been ope...

    Recruitment Genius: Technical Supervisor

    £24800 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As one of London's leading Muse...

    Recruitment Genius: Centre Manager

    £14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Guru Careers: Accountant

    £28 - 45k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Accountant is needed to take control of the ...

    Day In a Page

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before