Hannover is a center of political, social, and economic activity in Germany. The principal tourist destination is the Herrenhausen Gardens built by Princess Sophie, featuring exquisite landscaping, sculptures, gardens, and one of Europe’s highest fountains. The wide open spaces are suitable for running or biking, and there is even an indoor rainforest with a winding path through a canopy of trees, birds, and butterflies. Every August the gardens are the site of an international fireworks competition. The Erlebnis Zoo has over 2,500 animals in exhibits designed to mimic their natural habitats, and it is billed as an “experience zoo” where visitors can go on safaris to actually interact with the animals.
The Sprengel Museum is a 20th century art lover’s dream, and the Kestner Museum is a huge collection of Egyptian and Greco-Roman artifacts. The Historisches Museum Hannover gives a glimpse into the folklore of the city and features a 10th century fortress replica and Nazi regalia. During the first week in July, Hannover plays host to Schutzenfest, the largest marksmanship festival in the world. Locals gather during this 10-day festival to test their marksmanship, and have been doing so since the 16th century. There is a parade, fireworks, and amusement park rides for children. In August, there is another festival called Maschseefest featuring concerts, masquerades, and street performers.
Hannover offers a variety of cuisine options, mainly concentrated in the Markthalle zone where cafes, restaurants, and bars abound. There are more than 20 theaters, opera houses, and ballets.