Which city is home to the world's biggest exhibition site? Perhaps Tokyo? No, sorry – try again. Chicago, London, Shanghai? Wrong again. Frankfurt? Getting closer. The answer is in fact Hannover. Thanks to its state-of-the-art exhibition centre, the city has become an engine for the global economy, and a byword for ideas, innovation and investment.
You can be fairly certain that any new trends in industry or technology were first seen in Hannover, or rather at one of the city's huge international flagship trade fairs – the likes of which have made the exhibition centre in Lower Saxony one of the most highly regarded in the world. The exhibition site of around one square kilometre offers 466,100 square metres of floor space, making it the best possible stage for major international trade shows. Prominent flagship trade fairs, to name but a few, include CeBIT, the world's leading trade fair for ICT solutions, and Hannover Messe, the premier global event for technology and automation, as well as BIOTECHNICA, the most important forum for the European biotechnology and life sciences industry. But a successful trade fair needs more than just halls and floor space. Conferences and symposia are just as important, if not more so, and Hannover provides the very best facilities for those too. With 35 rooms and suites the Convention Center is a genuine chameleon, adapting to create the perfect space for events of any kind, and the same is true of the exhibition halls and the pavilions from EXPO 2000. State-of-the-art infrastructure, sustainable technologies and inviting quiet zones create an atmosphere that is laid-back yet productive. It goes without saying, of course, that the service and support for exhibitors and visitors is at an equally high level.
But Hannover has much more to offer exhibitors and visitors (and anyone else for that matter) than just trade shows and conventions. For instance, the city's two town halls are both well worth visiting. The first, conveniently situated opposite the market hall, dates back to the late Middle Ages and has been carefully restored, while the second is a neo-Gothic building inaugurated in 1913, recognisable by its sheer grandeur and its impressive dome at a height of almost 100 metres. Other attractions that bear witness to the city's glory days as a kingdom include the Leineschloss, seat of the Lower Saxony regional assembly and former royal residence, and the splendid Royal Gardens of Herrenhausen, whose Great Garden is one of Europe's few baroque gardens to have been preserved largely in its original state. The Leineschloss is also the starting point of the sculpture mile, a route best known for Niki de Saint Phalle's 'Nana' sculptures from 1974. Though the colourful, plump figures weren't to everyone's tastes when they first appeared, the people of Hannover have grown to love them and they're now as much part of the city as the exhibition grounds, the old town, the State Theatre and Masch Park. Another source of local pride is the Sprengel Museum, which first opened in 1979. One of the foremost galleries for 20th century art, the museum focuses on German expressionism, French modernism and is home to nearly 300 works by Niki de Saint Phalle – a gift from the artist to the city to which she felt so deeply connected. A more light-hearted approach to art is on offer at the Wilhelm Busch Museum for Caricature and Drawing. More laid-back still is the atmosphere at the zoo – a world of discovery of a very different, very exciting kind. Don't miss out on your chance to see the resident animals there or one of the city's many other highlights. Even if you were only ever heading to Hannover on business in the first place.