Hannover, where art, culture, sport and entertainment come together, is a city of extraordinary contrasts that leave their stamp on life.

Capital of Lower Saxony, Hannover is a well-concealed German treasure. Undistinguished at first glance, the city never ceases to amaze the more you explore it. Outstanding architecture, Baroque gardens, industrial fairs and the Sprengel, one of the world's leading art museums, all spring to mind at the first mention of Hannover. Almost completely destroyed in 1944, the city has risen triumphantly from its own ashes.

Developing steadily for more than fifty years, Hannover today has been transformed into a conference and fair capital. Surpassing itself with EXPO 2000, which was visited by some 18 million people, the city earned the right to host the FIFA World Soccer Championship for a second time in 2006. The Hannover Fair, which has been held since 1947, is one of the world's largest. Indeed, five of the world's ten largest fairs take place in Hannover. At the same time the city is a center of education. Upwards of 36,000 students live and study here, most of them also starting their professional careers in the city. And the city's research centers are world leaders in production technology and laser techniques.

Hannover's architectural tradition comes to us distilled down the ages. The roads in the city's List district have been in use since its founding years, and the zoo and its opulent neighboring mansions are the finest examples of the monarchic period. In the buildings between the Marktkirche and the Leineufer you will see architectural masterpieces from the Middle Ages, particularly in the Church of St. Georg and St. Jakubus. The new Town Hall, built in 1913, is one of the city's most imposing structures. You can even take the elevator up to the top and enjoy the view. The buildings in the south of the city are characteristic of the Weimar period. Carefully restored, the old ones lend the city a swank air and integrate well with the pleasing features of modernism. Nord/LB's  glass-swathed skycraper, the revolving Gehry Tower constructed of stainless steel, and the architecturally unique Torhaus are among the outstanding examples of modern architecture in the city.

Hannover's pedestrian zones are among Germany's most extensive. The pedestrian zone, named for the French sculptor Niki de Saint Phalle, the Kröpcke Passage and the Luise Gallerie are sure to please shopping buffs. And when you weary of shopping, more than 1,400 cafes are waiting to offer you respite in various corners of the city, one hundred of them in the center alone.

The world famous Baroque garden in the Herrenhäuser district was laid between 1692 and 1714 by the Duchess Sophie von der Pfalz, who was also the mother of the English King George I. This Baroque garden offers visitors a taste of the 300-year-old culture of European gardening. The fountain, which shoots water 82 meters into the air, is known as Europe's largest. And the theater plays, musicals and concerts held during Herrenhäuser's various summer cultural festivals transform this Baroque garden into a veritable land of dreams.

Hannover's Eilenriede Forest has earned the city the epithet 'City in Green'. A verdant oasis is never more than a step away for Hannover dwellers, who can even sit down and work amidst the greenery. A park area largely preserved in its natural state, Eilenriede covers a total of 650 hectares. The lungs of the city, this forest is almost twice the size of New York's Central Park, and its hiking paths, playgrounds, rest areas and grassy expanses for sunbathing are just a few of Hannover's pleasant surprises.

Art lovers and history buffs can spend enjoyable hours in Hannover's museums and art galleries. Such big names as Picasso, Nolde and Klee await you at the Sprengel Museum beside the lake known as the Maschsee. Founded by a chocolate manufacturer by the name of Bernhard Sprengel, this museum made important contributions to Hannover's art world in the 20th century.  With its prehistory, nature and ethnology sections, its state gallery and its aquarium, the Lower Saxony State Museum appeals to the entire family. And the Kestner Museum, which brings the world of antiquity and ancient Egypt to our day, has something for everyone from seven to seventy. The Hermannshof Garden at Springe-Völksen combines the plastic arts with the fine arts in a park environment. And the Landestrost Chateau at Neustadt am Rübenberge, an historic venue where exhibitions, concerts and poetry readings are held, is another of Hannover's must-see's.

Hannover, where art, culture, sport and entertainment come together, is a city of extraordinary contrasts that leave their stamp on life. The Opera House, built in the Neo-classical style in 1857, and some forty theaters offer visitors hours of enjoyment. The International Dance Theater, which hosts a number of first-class ensembles every year, is inundated with visitors. And comedy and magic shows jazzed up with music and cabaret entertain visitors at the world-renowned GOP Variété. Northern Germany's biggest cabaret festival, MIMUSE is held twice a year in spring and fall at Langenhagen. Young talents thrill audiences at the Muse Festival, a music festival held at Seelze. Talented musicians from all over the world flock to the city every year for the Hannover International Violin Competition. A granary in a green area at Isernhagenhof is used as a theater and concert hall. Hannover is also the scene of countless other events during the annual Culture Summer. The open air concerts staged at the AWD-Arena or Gilde Park draw rock and pop fans to the city. Hundreds of thousands of visitors revel to their hearts' content during  the Oktoberfest, one of Germany's famous festivals, and the world's largest marksmanship festival. And the Maschsee festivals are regarded as among Northern Germany's most successful.

If you're a sports enthusiast, then you can either follow the Hannover 96 soccer team, which plays in the German Bundesliga at the AWD-Arena, or the ice hockey team, Scorpions, which plays at the TUI-Arena. Hannover also boasts a 1000-km-long bicycle path known as the Bicycle Zone in its 21 affiliated municipalities. Fifteen different routes, all marked with road signs, begin from the Maschsee at the city center. Fifteen golf courses around the city also invite you to enjoy a round of this popular sport. And if nature and wildlife are your passion, you can see over 2,600 animals and their incredible shows at the Hannover Adventure Zoo. You can go on safari here in Zambezi Land with its African river landscapes, on majestic Gorilla Mountain, and in the jungle with its many wild animals.

Urban life quality has always been an advantage for people living just outside Hannover. Residents of the suburb of Hemmingen in particular savor the pleasures of life in a tranquil rural environment in close proximity to the big city. You can enjoy a stroll through charming Wedemark and its attractive historic city center, or the shopping centers of Lehrte to the east.  And while you are captivated by Springe at the edge of the Deister Mountains to the south, you can also make an excursion to Wunstorf in the west on Lake Steinhuder. This 32-square-kilometer lake in the northwest of the Hannover region offers a large number of recreational alternatives ranging from a pleasant stroll to yacht races.

Marienburg rises like a remote fairytale chateau near the city of Pattensen. Once the residence of Hannover's famous Welfe kings, Marienburg was built in the mid-19th century by King Georg V as a gift for his wife Marie. This opulent Neo-gothic palace of Hannover's last dynasty has been renovated and opened to the public.

Numerous museums, awesome architecture, buzzing night life, countless shopping alternatives, and profuse green areas... This is Hannover, a city with a modern face that is equally at home with culture, art and history.