This final chapter of the Hannover travelogue covers the western quarter of the inner city, where the majority of the surviving historic buildings were located. Because most of Hannover had been rebuilt after the World Wars, these old structure stood in stark contrast against all the surrounding modernity. Not in the western quarter, however, where whole streets and market squares were preserved and restored to their original beauty.
As described in the Innenstadt South & East chapter, the Tourist Information Bureau maintained a recommended downtown walking path that was marked along the roads by a strip of red paint. This chapter generally followed that path along the northeast bank of the Leine River from the Friedrichswall to the Holy Cross Church. We didn't follow the path at first (in fact it was after we hit the Altstadt that we figured out what that red painted line meant), so this chapter essentially covered the path in reverse.
When we arrived at the train station, we followed the Bahnhofstrasse (main train station road) across the city toward the largest structure we saw -- the Marktkirche. A picture of the Marktkirche is in the Innenstadt chapter. It was about two blocks from the river near the center of downtown, standing alone in its paved square. It was made entirely of old red brick covered in soot that looked original -- that is, it did not look restored. Across the square stood the old Rathaus (town hall), which is shown in the first photograph. This town hall followed the Gothic red brick styling of many similar buildings in northern Germany -- using series of brick-made poles or spikes for decoration. It was still used as a government building, but of course it didn't quite compare to the new town hall in the south with its own park!
The Marktkirche faced the most attractive street we found, called Kramerstrasse. A section of Kramerstrasse was shown in the second photograph. This was the nightclub and restaurant street in the old town, just about all restaurants with few stores or other activities. Nearly all the cuisines were covered, too -- European and Asian. But we found a really wonderful northern German restaurant just a few doors down from the Marktkirche.
After lunch, we picked up the path and followed it around a four-block area. The Holzmarkt was a marketplace at the end of Kramerstrasse, marked by one of the most impressive gilded fountains we'd seen around. We then followed northward along the street shown in the third photograph along Burgstrasse. This was probably the best example of the old-fashioned half-timber houses that used to dominate the landscape in northern Germany. These were clearly rebuilt and strengthened to preserve their shape and house some very classy shops in the ground floor. Restored half-timbers such as these dotted around the pedestrian zone around the Altstadt.
Just beyond the photo was the Ballhof, where some older half-timber houses stood. The Ballhof was another large marketsquare whose major tenant was the Niedersachsen Staatstheater Ballhof, a half-stone, a half-timbered theater. We then followed the path northward up a little incline to the Kreuzkirche -- the crossing church -- a white-brick church similar to others Tom had seen in Belgium and the Netherlands. The tower was square at the bottom and hexagonal on top, with its spire painted copper green.
We then toured around the various pedestrian alleyways to look at the shops. Knochenhauserstrasse stretched behind the Kreuzkirche and had a couple really impressive old guesthouses and cafés. It was worth taking your time and looking closely at the colorful details painted on the buildings there. Once we got back to the Holzmarkt, we returned toward the business district and picked up the walking around the Innenstadt, which took up the rest of Saturday.
Our tour Sunday morning began well west of the river. We attended church in the St. Clement Basilica (Clemens-Probsteikirche), located just off Goethestrasse to the northwest. This building was a classic Basilica, shaped almost identically to the Eger Basilica in Hungary albeit much smaller. We followed Goethestrasse back to the river and came upon the scene in the first photograph, of the major city wall. The building in the far distance was the Leibniz House, a classic Renaissance manor. The other structures stand now where was once a monastery.
We followed Goethestrasse up to a huge marketsquare called Am Steintor. There, we came upon a massive flea market that cover several hundred yards, extending down several of the pedestrian streets headed toward downtown. We suspected this was some sort of special occasion, because as the fifth photograph shows the event was accompanied by a Niedersachsen police band. This was a very good band, too. We stopped and listened to them for at least four songs. The band played from the center of the square, which was populated mostly by trailers where the vendors flipped up the sides and sold meats, cheeses, and household items. There were a few kiddie rides on the square, too (a hint of one can be seen in the background).
It was at this point, we broke away from the Altstadt and took the streetcar up to the Herrenhäuser Gardens. But we had a great time walking the streets and checking out all the little shops and places along the way. Hannover may have changed a lot, but the Altstadt was a great place to see what's remained the same.
Trips taken 27-28 March 2004 -- Page last updated 19 October 2006 -- (C) 2004 Tom Galvin