Top Historic Sights in Hanover, Germany

Explore the historic highlights of Hanover

New Town Hall

The New Town Hall (Neues Rathaus) in Hanover was opened on July 20, 1913, after having been under construction for 12 years. It is a magnificent, castle-like building of the era of Wilhelm II in eclectic style at the southern edge of the inner city (outside of the historic city centre of Hanover). The building is embedded in the 10 hectare Maschpark. The Old Town Hall is no longer used as the main seat of admini ...
Founded: 1913 | Location: Hanover, Germany

Marktkirche

The Marktkirche St. Georgii et Jacobi (Market Church of Sts. George and James), commonly known as Marktkirche, was built in the 14th century. Together with the nearby Old Town Hall it is considered the southernmost example of the North German brick gothic architectural style. The roof and the vaults of the naves were destroyed in an air raid in 1943 and restored in 1952. The church is a hallenkirche (hall church). ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Hanover, Germany

Leineschloss

The Leineschloss, situated on the Leine in Hanover, is the former residence of the Hanoverian kings and the current seat of the Landtag of Lower Saxony. The first building on the site was a Franciscan friary, constructed in about 1300, which was abandoned in 1533 after the Protestant Reformation. In 1636, George, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg, began construction of the palace on the site as his residence. In 1 ...
Founded: 1636 | Location: Hanover, Germany

Herrenhausen Gardens

The Herrenhausen Gardens are a heritage of the Kings of Hanover. The Great Garden has always been one of the most distinguished baroque formal gardens of Europe while the Berggarten has been transformed over the years from a simple vegetable garden into a large botanical garden with its own attractions. Both the Georgengarten and the Welfengarten have been made in the style of English gardens, and both are considered ...
Founded: 17th century | Location: Hanover, Germany

Aegidienkirche

The Aegidienkirche, dated back to 1163, was the furthest east of the three churches in the old city - the other two were the Marktkirche and the Kreuzkirche. It was dedicated to Saint Giles. It was destroyed in a 1943 air-raid on the city and left in ruins as a war memorial.
Founded: 1163 | Location: Hanover, Germany

Kreuzkirche

Kreuzkirche was completed in 1333. It was built from brick in the same Baroque style that still prevails throughout the district. This is one of three churches in Hanover’s city centre. It was restored at the end of the 20th century, and houses an altar designed by the sculptor Lucas Cranach.
Founded: 1333 | Location: Hanover, Germany

Lower Saxony State Museum

The Lower Saxony State Museum comprises the State Gallery (Landesgalerie), featuring paintings and sculptures from the Middle Ages to the 20th century, plus departments of archaeology, natural history and ethnology. The museum includes a vivarium with fish, amphibians, reptiles and arthropods.  The predecessor of museum ran out of space for its art collections, prompting the construction of the current building ...
Founded: 1902 | Location: Hanover, Germany

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Porta Nigra

The Porta Nigra (Latin for black gate) is the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps. It is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name Porta Nigra originated in the Middle Ages due to the darkened colour of its stone; the original Roman name has not been preserved. Locals commonly refer to the Porta Nigra simply as Porta.

The Porta Nigra was built in grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. The original gate consisted of two four-storied towers, projecting as near semicircles on the outer side. A narrow courtyard separated the two gate openings on either side. For unknown reasons, however, the construction of the gate remained unfinished. For example, the stones at the northern (outer) side of the gate were never abraded, and the protruding stones would have made it impossible to install movable gates. Nonetheless, the gate was used for several centuries until the end of the Roman era in Trier.

In Roman times, the Porta Nigra was part of a system of four city gates, one of which stood at each side of the roughly rectangular Roman city. The Porta Nigra guarded the northern entry to the Roman city, while the Porta Alba (White Gate) was built in the east, the Porta Media (Middle Gate) in the south, and the Porta Inclyta (Famous Gate) in the west, next to the Roman bridge across the Moselle. The gates stood at the ends of the two main streets of the Roman Trier, one of which led north-south and the other east-west. Of these gates, only the Porta Nigra still exists today.

In the early Middle Ages the Roman city gates were no longer used for their original function and their stones were taken and reused for other buildings. Also iron and lead braces were broken out of the walls of the Porta Nigra for reuse. Traces of this destruction are still clearly visible on the north side of the gate.

After 1028, the Greek monk Simeon lived as a hermit in the ruins of the Porta Nigra. After his death (1035) and sanctification, the Simeonstift monastery was built next to the Porta Nigra to honor him. Saving it from further destruction, the Porta Nigra was transformed into a church: The inner court of the gate was roofed and intermediate ceilings were inserted. The two middle storeys of the former gate were converted into church naves: the upper storey being for the monks and the lower storey for the general public. The ground floor with the large gates was sealed, and a large outside staircase was constructed alongside the south side (the town side) of the gate, up to the lower storey of the church. A small staircase led further up to the upper storey. The church rooms were accessible through former windows of the western tower of the Porta Nigra that were enlarged to become entrance doors (still visible today). The top floor of the western tower was used as church tower, the eastern tower was leveled, and an apse added at its east side. An additional gate - the much smaller Simeon Gate - was built adjacent to the East side of the Porta Nigra and served as a city gate in medieval times.

In 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the church in the Porta Nigra and the monastery beside it, along with the vast majority of Trier"s numerous churches and monasteries. On his visit to Trier in 1804, Napoleon ordered that the Porta Nigra be converted back to its Roman form. Only the apse was kept; but the eastern tower was not rebuilt to its original height. Local legend has it that Napoleon originally wanted to completely tear down the church, but locals convinced him that the church had actually been a Gaulish festival hall before being turned into a church. Another version of the story is that they told him about its Roman origins, persuading him to convert the gate back to its original form.

In 1986 the Porta Nigra was designated a World Heritage Site, along with other Roman monuments in Trier and its surroundings. The modern appearance of the Porta Nigra goes back almost unchanged to the reconstruction ordered by Napoleon. At the south side of the Porta Nigra, remains of Roman columns line the last 100 m of the street leading to the gate. Positioned where they had stood in Roman times, they give a slight impression of the aspect of the original Roman street that was lined with colonnades. The Porta Nigra, including the upper floors, is open to visitors.