Today I was able to finally spend a few hours wandering around Hannover. Sure, I've been coming for almost a week, but most of my time has been spent at the show. First, coming out of the subway, I wasn't all that impressed. Like many cities in Germany, most of the town was leveled due to allied bombing in WWII. So much of the architecture is 1950's and later. And let's face it - the architecture of the 50's doesn't do anything for me. Case in point, this is the maing shopping area in downtown. Kind of like Michigan Avenue in Chicago, it's full of pedestrians walking around with shopping bags. Unlike Michigan Avenue - none of them were carrying American Girl Store bags.
Yet just down the street from this intersection is the Hannover Opera House. Allegedly, it's one of the best opera houses in the world. And it was rebuilt in only 5 years after the war. Those Hannover folks suuure love their opera!
In the Market Square is the old City Hall ("Rathaus"). Similar in function to the one in Bremen, this one is a lot more Gothic in design - without having the Renaissance facade that was added to the Bremen Rathaus.
By this time, I had finally found my way into the Old City ("AltStahdt"). After block after block of 1950's modernism (and yes, opera houses) I was finally back in the Old German city with all its Gothic gorgeousness.
Of course, one can never completely escape America when in Europe. And while I was expecting to see McDonald's, Subway, Pizza Hut, etc while I was here I was shocked to stumble upon a Big Boy statue. Especially one with an arm being held up by duct tape and advertising a restaurant called "Route 77". Something tells me whichever German restaurant owner bought this statue off of Euro-eBay has no idea which restaurant these came from.
Back to the old city. Not all of it completely escaped the bombing. This portion of the neighborhood consisted of old buildings that were re-built from timbers when they collapsed in the war. They were all collected from a variety of parts of the city - wherever they could find buildings that were damaged, but still pretty much all there. Then they moved them and reassembled them along this one street so people could see what old timber fronts used to look like. It looked pretty convincing to me!
A few blocks away from those old buildings is the oldest standing house in Hannover. Built in 1422, this building escaped the bombing and is full of character. Click on the (I know, sideways) picture and look at the woodworking between the windows and between the floors. I know, it *looks* like it's just painting, but the wood was carved, then painted. It's really gorgeous.
Then, of course, the requisite picture of another example of freakin' weird German sculpture. This time it's a dude sitting in the antlers of a deer. Go figure.
Then, because I only had about an hour to explore, I made my way back to the Hannover Hauptbahnhof ("Central Station" for you non-TOWWAS readers). It's actually much bigger than Bremen's station, and architecturally, more impressive. I couldn't even get it all in one picture.
I have more pictures, of course, but I didn't want to bore you all with more sideways pictures of outrageously tall church steeples which I could only take sideways. Besides, the architecture here is pretty representative.
One amusing story from the day is my quest for a "Hannover" magnet. A friend of mine at work requested magnets from each city I visited to add to her collection. It was a reasonable request, so I was running around the train station before my train came trying to find one. But what I discovered is that apprently Germans have a lower tolerance for cheap tourist tchotchske than Americans do. Despite the fact that the Hauptbahnhof is basically a shopping mall in addition to a station, and despite the fact that it had something like 50-75 different stores, only one had a magnet that said "Hannover" anywhere on it. And it only had *one* of them. And I hadn't seen any stores during my wanderings that might have carried them either. Sure, I had found three different stores where I could buy dildos, edible underwear, and furry handcuffs. But there is only one "Hannover" magnet in the entire city - and I bought it.