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Gardens of Herrenhausen

Well this sounds a bit like a boring lomolocation - garden, flowers, old people, tourists. But I want you to first read this text (that took me hours to write!) and do not skip the first paragraph with the historic facts! Then you will see why I like this location and why it is worth to pay a visit.

Well this sounds a bit like a boring lomolocation – garden, flowers, old people, tourists. But I want you to first read this text (that took me hours to write!) and do not skip the first paragraph with the historic facts! Then you will see why I like this location and why it is worth to pay a visit.

The baroque gardens of Herrenhausen (Herrenhäuser Gärten) are one the most famous tourist attractions in Hanover. In 1666 the Great Garden was created – a huge park for the nobles and gentry of the city. Today’s structure goes back to the years 1696 to 1714 when Electress Sophie reigned in Hanover and restructured the gardens. Such baroque gardens were a typical sight in the 17th and 18th century. Today they are reminders of a glorious past when the kings of Hanover were also the kings of England. During the 19th century the great gardens were forgotten because George II and the III lived in London and no longer in Hanover. But in 1862 George V made Herrenhausen to his constant royal residency and the gardens were revived. Only a few years later, when Hanover became a part of Prussia, the gardens again lost their popularity. There were no longer kings in Hanover and the remaining gentry favoured the Prussian lifestyle instead of the old Hanoverian one. Only in 1937 the gardens were reopened for the pubic. The city of Hanover had bought the area and reconstructed the old baroque grounds.

On the other side of the street there is the “Berggarten”. It served as a garden for exotic plants and as early as 1686, Electress Sophie erected a greenhouse. Since 1750 the Berggarten was a botanical garden in which visitors could gaze at the largest collection of palm trees.
Nowadays the gardens of Herrenhausen are one of the few in Europe that still have their old structure, the “Berggarten” is the oldest botanical garden in Germany. You can visit the gardens throughout the year. In spring and summer there are several huge activities going on like the “Little Festival in the Great Garden” (during the whole of July) or the Fireworks competition. But tickets are sold very fast! The “Little Festival” is famous for its cabaret, acrobats, and its masquerade. The Fireworks competition stretches from spring to the end of summer.

But besides these festivals, the gardens are a wonderful place to relax with their structured flower beds and hedgerows. Several springs and one large fountain (70 metres high!) make the structure complete. You can stroll along the many paths and discover the full size of the area which is about 50 hectare. But don’t get lost in the labyrinth!

I prefer to visit the gardens in winter. Then you don’t have to pay an entrance fee because gardeners are at work, there are no flowers to look at and not one leave hangs on the many trees. Some may call this scenario “dreary” but I like it, especially because you don’t meet many people there in winter. It is calm and you can walk along the grounds without being chased by tourists (and by digital cameras). One thing that is not so interesting in winter are the flower beds. They look a bit too empty and you cannot visit the Grotto designed by Nikki de St Phalle. But all the other things are as beautiful as in summer or even better because the atmosphere in winter is more gloomy and relaxing.

The gardens are best reached by Underground (or tram, whatever expression you prefer) line 4 or 5 direction “Garbsen” (line 4) or “Stöcken” (line 5). Leave at “Herrenhäuser Gärten”. You best enter the tram at the Underground station “Kröpcke” in the city centre. And do not be confused, the Underground in Hanover often leaves its tunnels and the line goes on aboveground. A single ticket costs about 2€ and a single day ticket for public transport is about 6€. There is no entrance fee for the great garden in the winter season (until March 30th and from October 15th) but for the “Berggarten” and the Grotto (2 €). In summer there is also an entrance fee for the great garden: 3€. (the summer season is from March 31st to October 14th)

Some extra tips: You will pass the old Welfen-castle on your way to the gardens as well (now the main University building). But it is only interesting to look at from the outside. Next to the gardens is the Georgengarden, a place where the students picnic in summer. This one is for free as there are no fences around it ;-) (but it is not such a good lomo location at the great garden).

So whenever you find your way to Hanover (the capital of the federal state of Lower Saxony!) be sure to pay a visit to the gardens. (And I think I have now made enough promotion for Hanover, enough to convince you that this is not the most boring city in the world!)

written by graefin

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