The history of the Grosser Garten began in 1666 when Duke Johann Friedrich commissioned the creation of a “pleasure garden” south of the modest palace. But it was only after the duke’s brother, the later Elector Ernst August, ascended the throne in Hanover (reigning from 1679 to 1698) that Herrenhausen began to flourish and Hanover experienced its greatest development of splendour.
In accordance with Electress Sophia’s wishes, the gardener Martin Charbonnier designed the Grosser Garten over a period of three decades. The Grosser Garten was the setting for the glittering festivities of court society at the time, with gondola trips on the water, Venetian nights and masked balls.
During this period, Herrenhausen was home to high politics, a meeting place for science and art. Peter the Great, the Russian tsar, danced here with Sophia; Georg Friedrich Händel (1685 – 1759) performed music; the higher European nobility amused themselves and the polymath Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646 – 1716) held forth on philosophy.
Music, dance and theatre at Herrenhausen – this tradition still lives on today. Performances in the garden theatre, concerts, festivals, performing arts on a large scale and the international fireworks competition – all of these bring sparkling life to the Grosser Garten at Herrenhausen throughout the year.
The Berggarten boasts a history which is almost as long as that of the Grosser Garten: the beginnings of the mulberry plantation date back to 1704. Numerous plants, among them African violets and flamingo flowers, are a reminder of the Wendland garden dynasty, which was active here for over 100 years. Some of the splendid trees are witnesses to the late 18th century.
The Berggarten’s classical-style buildings are a striking characteristic of the garden. They include the library pavilion at the entrance and the mausoleum of the House of Welf in the oak grove. A modern building marks the site of the once famous Great Palm House: the Rain Forest House has a transparent dome and is today home to a Sea Life Aquarium.