Herrenhausen Palace and Gardens Schloss Herrenhausen (Herrenhäuser Gärten)
A bit of Versailles in Hanover, the Herrenhausen is a palace and garden complex that became an official suburban residence of the Electorate of Hanover in the second half of the 17th century. Peter I might have visited it during his visit to Hanover in 1713. The Tsar arrived at Hanover on February 18 / March 1 and stayed there until early in the morning on February 21 / March 4 when he left Hanover.
The Travel Journal has no entries mentioning Peter’s visit to the Herrenhausen. However, German historians believe that the Tsar was received at the Herrenhausen by 83-year old yet vigorous Sophia of Hanover (Sophie von Hannover; 1630–1714), the Electress of Hanover who was known to him from his earlier journey around Europe in 1697.
In many respects, it is Sophia of Hanover to whom the Herrenhausen owes its origin. The site’s history dates back to 1638 when it was built as a princely farm. In the second half of the 17th century, it was turned into an electoral summer residence by laying out the first small regular garden, reconstructing the palace, building a grotto, a cascade, the Page House, the Gallery, and the Orangery. In the 1710s, the garden was reconstructed by French landscape architect Martin Charbonnier, a disciple of André Le Nôtre who created the Versailles park. The garden was significantly expanded and decorated with parterres, bosquets and a U-shaped canal. The New Garden was laid out by Charbonnier on the main axis of the ensemble in the southern part of the site, away from the palace. It was composed of four large square bosquets divided by diagonal alleys and grouped around the Great Fountain, the focal point of the garden. Four smaller fountains were installed in the middle parts of the bosquets. Semicircular areas — the “Half Moons” — were set up on the axes of the main alleys along the perimeter of the garden. In front of the palace, the architect planted a grove surrounded by an arc-shaped canal and cut through by an alley — the so called “Full Moon”. Located at the southern end of the central axis, it was designed to have two domed pavilions on its both sides at the corners of the garden.
A drawing of the Herrenhausen was part of Peter’s architectural collection.
In the middle of June of 1716, in Hanover, Peter I had a meeting with Gottfried Leibniz who presented his memorials on the development of education and science in Russia, the creation of libraries, bookstores, printing houses, museums, and an observatory. The German scientist described their meeting as follows: “I took the occasion to spend several days with the great Russian monarch; then I went with him to the Herrenhausen near Hanover and we spent two days there”. Peter stayed in the Herrenhausen on June 15/26–16/27, 1716. He walked in the garden, rode along the canal, and dined. Later, Leibniz highly commended the Tsar in his letters. He wrote, “He surrounds himself with those in the know from all around, and when he speaks to them, they are absolutely astounded with how receptive he is in his talks with them.” “He asks about all mechanical arts, but his principal interest is focused on everything relating to seamanship; therefore he is also keen on astronomy and geography. I hope he is the one who will tell us whether Asia and America are connected.”
Totally destroyed during the World War II, the palace was rebuilt by 2013. The gardens were also reconstructed after the war. Nowadays, this is a venue for summer festivals, music and theatrical performances.