Lacking the high profile of neighbouring Hanse city states Hamburg and Bremen, Hanover is today known for its mammoth CeBit computer expo and the Hannover Messe industrial technology trade fair, each attracting over 200,000 visitors each year.
Buried within its identity, but visible to those with patience and a keen eye, is the lesser known fact that from 1714, monarchs from the house of Hanover also ruled Great Britain, and the entire British Empire, for over a century. In a cruel irony, extensive Allied bombing in 1943 wiped out much of Hanover’s rich architectural and cultural heritage and more than 6000 lives were lost.
Perhaps it’s this paradox of once being part of something much larger than itself that makes Hanover’s character so difficult to pin down. Locals love it here for the low cost of living, good public transport, a wealth of museums and cultural sites and Hanover’s proximity to green spaces: the spectacularly baroque Herrenhäuser Gärten, southern manmade Lake Maschsee and Europe’s largest urban forest, the Eilenriede. That said, most Germans groan at the first mention of Hanover, whose dialect is regarded as the closest tongue to High German. Perhaps it’s a complex socio-linguistic thing, perhaps they’re just jealous.
First appearances mightn’t knock you off your feet, but spend a little time here and you’ll soon be charmed.