Leipzig: what to see in the German city between past and future

Leipzig

An hour from Berlin (by train), the city that saw Wagner, Klinger and Bach passing through its streets, seems rather overshadowed compared to the larger and more famous cousins Berlin and Munich, but history has always painted Leipzig as home to music, art, creative projects and today universities and modern renovations. Let’s find out what to see in Leipzig, where to eat … and why to go

What strikes about Leipzig at first sight? The energy, the youth, the old town centered almost in a handkerchief, a university with an imposing building side by side with the historical monuments of the city, and, above all, it strikes you because didn’t expect it.

Yes, there is no doubt, Leipzig is underestimated! In short, we know: if Ryanair (or some other low cost) does not name you on the list of destinations, you are a failed city!

Leipzig is above all a city of music and musicians. His story is linked to Johann Sebastian Bach who lived and worked here as author of works and master of the famous Thomanerchor for 27 years.

Therefore you cannot miss a visit to the Bach Museum. where the life and work of the master is presented in an interactive exhibition, which could be interesting even for the youngest.

Leipzig: old industrial areas open to art *

Leipzig

In a city in full expansion I am sure that it will be enough time to modify one of the much loved lists named “What to see in Leipzig” and make this post obsolete too … or at least incomplete.

The neighborhoods change, new residential and artistic centers are born.

Entire neighborhoods, such as the Plagwitz, are being transformed into regenerated areas where old factories become modern apartments or exhibition spaces. It has already happened in the district of Lindenau where the Baumwollspinnerei was born from an old factory: an immense abandoned cotton mill that now houses 10 galleries, the workshops of 100 artists and goldsmiths, a collective art center, a cineforum and a factory ceramics.

It is in these areas where nightlife is even more active, especially in the already mentioned districts of Plagwitz and Lindenau.

If you don’t want to spend too many days in Leipzig, being a small city, I recommend that you associate it with Dresden, which is about an hour away by car (you can also travel by public transport if you don’t want to rent a car for this little route) .

10 things to see in Leipzig *

There is no need to travel much to see everything and, apart from the monument of the Battle of the Nations, you will not need public transport.

1- Monument of the Battle of the Nations (Leipziger Baumwollspinnerei)

Leipzig

It is one of the most important monuments of Leipzig and, as mentioned, is the only one that is not found in the historic center.

This work commemorates the battle of the liberation war against Napoleon’s troops which took place in 1831 near Leipzig.

The exact address is Straße des 18. Oktober 100 (from April to October open from 10.00 to 18.00, from November to March open from 10.00 to 16.00 – Adult ticket € 8).

To get there you can use the lines, S1, S4, S11 or the tram nr. 15 towards Leipzig-Stötterizt.

You will find yourself in front of a building in the shape of a tall tower with a beauty of 91 meters passable in height with a stairway of 364 steps (or elevator … lazy!).

The building was inaugurated in 1813 and today hosts the Forum 1813.

2- Church of St. Nicholas (Nikolaikirche)

Leipzig

Among the most famous churches in Leipzig is the Nikolaikirche dedicated to the patron saint of merchants.

It is located in the city center, in an area where once the Via Regia (which from Santiago de Compostela arrived in Moscow) and the Via Imperii (which from Rome reached the Baltic Sea to Stettin) met.

It does not resemble much what was the church of the origins built following the Gothic and Romanesque styles its current appearance is instead typically neo-classical, but do not be surprised: most of the cities of Germany after the second world war were forced to a total reconstruction to cause of Allied bombing.

3- Church of St. Thomas (Thomaskirche)

The famous church, whose origin dates back to the early 1200s, boasts a namesake choir that seems to be quite well known in Germany.

It was built on the site of a monastery belonging to the 13th century and was restored, as can be imagined, after the Second World War.

Martin Luther (1539) also appeared among his preachers, while Bach was its chief director of the aforementioned choir between 1723 and 1750 (today his remains are in this church).

4- Auerbachs Keller

One of the most famous restaurants in Germany is the Auerbachs Keller. In spite of being particularly touristy, I assure you that you eat rather well and being huge, you have practically always available tables (although I recommend booking from the restaurant website)

It was founded in 1525 and is so famous for the fact that Goethe set an episode of Faust here, the one in which Mephistopheles and Faust make revelry and come out astride a barrel: the scene is represented in the restaurant by a huge barrel above the which is the work carved on a tree trunk and housed in the Goethezimmer.

5- Old town hall

For years it has dominated the heart of city life. The building dates back to 1556, but the original structure has been retouched numerous times. The balconies of the musicians and the announcements remain intact.

Today it also houses a museum dedicated to the city whose visit is free (Tuesday / Sunday from 10:00 to 18:00).

6- Naschmarkt and Mädlerpassage

Behind the old town hall of Leipzig you will find the Naschmarkt, a decidedly quieter little square dating back to 1556.

On one side of the square is the building of the “old trading bag” (Alte Handelsbörse) dating back to 1668, now used to host public events.

On the opposite side to the Naschmarkt there is instead the Mädlerpassage: a commercial gallery that in the past was one of the rather particular and frequented places of commercial exchange and today still appreciated and where there is also the Auerbachs Keller.

7 – University of Leipzig

Despite its impressive and partly modern appearance, the University of Leipzig is one of the oldest in the world. It was founded in 1409 but during the Second World War it was almost totally destroyed so today it is possible to admire the reconstruction which dominates Augustusplatz and which preserves what remains of the entrance of the old building, the Augusteum.

8- Gewandhaus

You don’t have to go far from the University of Leipzig to come across the Gewandhaus. A beautiful concert building where the Gewandhaus Orchestra performs.

The world of music knows it for its decidedly excellent acoustics, but the interior is beautiful to see even for the many paintings by contemporary artists exhibited in the galleries.

9- Grassi Museum

The Fat Museum is an art deco style building that actually houses 3 museums: the Museum of Applied Arts, the Ethnological Museum and the Museum of Musical Instruments.

Perhaps it is not for everyone, but above all the part of the museum of the instruments is appreciated by music lovers who can also spend time in practical laboratories.

10- Augustusplatz

Augustusplatz is the main square of Leipzig. It is surrounded by numerous monuments that give it a certainly elegant appearance.

The name was given by the first king of Saxony, Frederick Augustus, although the square had previously brought several names, such as Karl Marx Platz.

Virtually all the buildings that overlook the square have been rebuilt … even several times and not only after the bombings of the Second World War. His appearance has therefore changed considerably over the years … we hope they found the right formula today 🙂

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