This chapter on Hannover covers the primarily commercial and governmental sectors of downtown. It was dominated by new, modern structures (glass and aluminum style) and refurbished sidewalks or pedestrian streets. There were a few historic landmarks scattered about, which were easy to spot. Basically, those going to Hannover to shop and eat would find themselves in this part of town.
The Tourist Information Bureau was kind enough to establish a clear walking trail that took visitors across all the major sights. At the time of our visit, the path was marked using a line of red paint that traversed sidewalks, passages, and in a couple cases, stairwells of buildings. The red line was matched in the city's tourist map, allowing one to follow along. Upon reaching a landmark, the painted line was interrupted by a red circle and number that pointed to the landmark. (Sadly, the tourist map we had did not identify all the landmarks along the way, just some). The line began and ended at the Hauptbahnhof, the main train station, shown in the distance in the first photograph.
The first photograph also shows the Bahnhofstrasse and the commercial passage built underground leading from the main train station. Bahnhofstrasse was absolutely jammed with people when we first arrived, because Hannover's professional soccer club -- Hannover 96 -- was getting set to host a game. Between the above ground streetshops and below-ground passage, there were dozens of bars, sports clubs, and cafés for the fans of both the home and visiting club to congregate. It was a peaceful crowd, probably so because of all the Polizei (policemen) monitoring them, with several on horseback. Although there were already a few fans feeling little pain by mid-morning, there was no indication of any trouble brewing.
The end of the passage was at a huge square called the Kropcke (we believe it was pronounced KROHPS-kuh). The Kropcke was the heart of the commercial district, with pedestrian streets emanating from it in several directions. The passage came to a huge underground square, surrounded at street level by a number of major department stores and restaurants.
Initially, we followed the passage out to the Altstadt, but then returned to the train station and followed the path in sequence. From the station (marked as landmark #1), we followed southeast down Georgstrasse, a main road. Several landmarks lined along this road, led by the city's marvelous Opernhaus, shown in the second photograph. Continuing down the street, we passed the Börse, which was a small park filled with monuments, then the Deutsche Bank building that occupied a huge stone manor. We cut due south across Georgspark, a wide sidewalk along one part of the city wall (Georgswall). Little sign of the wall remains.
The next significant landmark was the Aegidienkirche, the shell of a bombed-out church which was about the only old building in the district. The outer hull of the church and the tower still stood, but the rest of the structure was gone and the red brick exterior still display the pockmarks and scars of conflicts past. It was being restored to a point -- appearing as though they were going to shore it up to keep it strong and stable, yet not rebuild it, so that it should remain a war monument of sorts.
By the time we circled Aegidienkirche, we were on the southern edge of the Innenstadt, along Hannover's major downtown route, the Friedrichswall. Across the way was the front of the Neues Rathaus, the rear of which is shown in the third photograph. The rear was much prettier than the front because it overlooked the Maschpark, a nice little park with the huge pond shown. The front, on the other hand, played host to a cement park.
It was particularly odd to us that the red painted line we referred to in the beginning of this chapter not only traversed across the center of the cement park but it also went up and down the front steps of the Rathaus. Bizarre, and not particularly sightly, but it was effective because the ceiling of the entrance was itself a landmark. It was painted with a nighttime sky and some pretty wild murals that could only be seen from directly underneath.
But without question, the Maschpark was the place to be in that part of town. It wasn't that big -- only about three hundred by three hundred meters square -- but because it was separated from the rest of downtown by a wall of huge buildings, there was little city noise to disturb it. The pond was filled with geese and ducks, and various interesting city monuments were scattered around the park to entice visitors to walk around a bit. While there, we noted the presence of a newly married couple who were having their formal wedding shots taken across the pond from us. We watched them for about twenty minutes, then moved on.
The Maschpark also hosted the Kestner Museum, which was an art and exhibition hall, and Rudolf-Hillebrecht Platz that hosted a large outdoor café.
Not surprisingly, the majority of the surrounding buildings were ministerial headquarters, either of the city of Hannover or the state of Lower Saxony. Many of them were relatively new, but some interesting landmarks remained -- such as shown in the fourth photograph. This crest was on top of a free-standing archway that was the sole remnant of an old ministerial building, replaced by a state ministry (abbreviated as Bauverw., don't know what it means).
We followed the red line back to Friedrichswall and followed along to the west. The fifth photograph shows a scene from there, including a large school building and the Marktkirche in the distance (for more on the Marktkirche, refer to the chapter on the Altstadt).
From the Friedrichswall, we headed southwest along the Lavesallee. At the junction, the road went over the Leine, Hannover's main river. Following this was Waterlooplatz, a long and open green park with a large victory monument (the Waterloosaeule) in the far southwest corner.
Cutting across that park was Waterloostrasse, that headed due south and hosted mostly eateries and government buildings. It also provided a long walkway to the stadium, and it just so happened that when we reached Waterloostrasse, the game had been over for about five or ten minutes -- meaning that Hannover soccer fans wearing the team's red and green colors were streaming up the street in great numbers. Turned out the game results that day was a draw, so while the fans were not upset, they weren't acting overjoyed, either. Good, we thought, we weren't going to deal with any roudy fans on our journey!
Trips taken 27-28 March 2004 -- Page last updated 19 October 2006 -- (C) 2004 Tom Galvin