Hanover was established around 1100 and became the residence of Heinrich der Löwe later that century. An early Hanseatic city, it developed into a prosperous seat of royalty and a major power by the Reformation.
It has links with Britain through a series of marriages. In 1714 the eldest son of Electress Sophie of Hanover, a granddaughter of James I of England (James VI of Scotland), ascended the British throne as George I while simultaneously ruling Hanover. This British–German union lasted until 1837.
In 1943, up to 80% of the centre and 50% of the entire city was destroyed by Allied bombing. The rebuilding plan included creating sections of reconstructed half-timbered houses and painstakingly rebuilding the city’s prewar gems, such as the Opernhaus (Opera House), the Marktkirche and the Neues Rathaus (New Town Hall).
A few years ago, Hanover was hoping to be at the centre of world attention as the host of Expo 2000. However, only 18 million visitors turned up – less than half the number expected. Having been one of the 12 German host cities for the FIFA Football World Cup in 2006 at least gives the city something new to boast about.