Leipzig is the German city located in the eponymous lowland, at the confluence of the three rivers, such as White Elster, Pleis, and Parte. Many artificial lakes and canals have been created in the city and its surrounding, which is why Leipzig is often described as the “Little Venice”. The main part of its territory consists of historical buildings; therefore, it has the status of the architectural capital of Germany. Gothics, Baroque, Renaissance, and Art Nouveau miraculously combine here, impressing city guests with its architectural diversity and richness. "Leipzig. Ort der Vielfalt” (“Leipzig. Place of Diversity”) is the official motto of the city, which is considered the pearl of Saxony. As an amazing city of the great composers, such as Bach and Mendelssohn, it includes one of the oldest universities in Germany, where Goethe studied. It is here that traditional fairs and festivals of contemporary art are held.
Districts of Leipzig
It is not safe for tourists to go to Neustadt-Neuschönefeld and its main street Eisenbahnstraße. Gunfights, drug dealing, unemployment, poverty, and police sirens are commonplace here. Most of the inhabitants of this part of the city are migrants and refugees from Arab countries.
Leipzig is an ancient and, at the same time, very modern city. It has many historical monuments and modern sights. It is called the German Prague, Little Venice, and German Paris. Leipzig is the city of fairs, the first of which appeared here in the XII century. They had imperial status and were known all over Europe at that time, and they are popular up to now.
Rapid growth began during the industrialization of the XIX century. Reaching its peak at the beginning of the XX century, the number of residents in the city began to decrease, which was a cause of concern to the city authorities. At the beginning of the XXI century, a solution was found to improve the situation by incorporating urban districts. The population began to grow as early as the mid-2000s, and by 2011, the number of permanent residents in the city had risen to 510,000, and by the end of 2018 — to 596,500.
As of the beginning of 2018, 13.5% of the city's residents were foreigners. These were mainly from the Russian Federation, Syria, Poland, and Ukraine. Of all the cities in East Germany, Leipzig has the highest level of migrants.
The majority of the city's inhabitants (85%) do not identify themselves with any religion.
During the Middle Ages, Leipzig was at the crossroads of trade routes, and many fairs took place in the city. In 1497, the trade fair in Leipzig received the status of an imperial fair, which led to the city's economic growth.
The Thirty Years' War was a heavy hit on Leipzig. Between 1631 and 1642, the city was sieged five times, and the population decreased by a third during this time.
During the Seven Years' War (1756-1763), the city was occupied by Prussian troops, and as a result, the city's fortifications were demolished, and trees were planted in their place.
In October 1813, the fiercest battle in the succession of Napoleonic wars (Battle of the Nations) took place in which Leipzig was involved. A monument is dedicated to this tragedy, which is a famous landmark of modern Leipzig and the most massive monument in Europe.
In 1839, the railroad connecting Leipzig with Dresden was built. This made the city the transportation center of central Germany.
During World War II, concentration camps were located on the outskirts of Leipzig. The city was bombed by the Allies but did not suffer much.
After World War II (since 1949), Leipzig was part of the GDR.
In 1989, the Monday demonstrations in Leipzig played an important role in the unification of Germany and were called the Peaceful Revolution.
In 1990, the Berlin Wall fell, and Leipzig became part of the FRG.
The best time to visit Leipzig
The reason to time your trip to Leipzig on certain dates is quite significant. From late November to December 24, Leipzig, like other cities in Germany, hosts the Weihnachtsmarkt Christmas market, a very colorful and festive event.
Leipzig's main cultural event, the Wave-Gotik-Treffen Festival, is supported by the city government and attracts subculture fans worldwide. It takes place in the city and is accompanied by concerts, costume parades, a trade fair, and other events connected with the culture of the goths.
In the first two weeks of June, Leipzig hosts the Bachfest Leipzig classical music festival, where works by the great composer are performed. The main venue is St. Thomas Church (German: Thomaskirche). This is where Johann Sebastian Bach composed his most monumental works, served as cantor and teacher at the church school; he also taught singing and gave concerts. It was also here that he found his final resting place.
The Highfield Rock Festival marks mid-August in Leipzig. It features musical styles of punk, indie, and rock. The event takes place on the banks of the Störmhaler See and is very popular in Germany.
The beginning of September in Leipzig is dedicated to the International Mendelssohn Festival, in which well-known performers of classical music take part. The festival features chamber music and workshops for learning to play musical instruments. The event takes place in the city concert hall Gewandhaus, whose Kapellmeister was F. Mendelssohn.
The Leipziger Jazztage Festival brightens up the first days of October. The city is filled with famous performers of jazz and blues and representatives of related genres: soul, rock, and funk. The festival does not have a stationary location and is held in various cultural institutions.
You can rent a bicycle in Leipzig. It's perfect for sightseeing, as the city has numerous cycle paths with traffic lights, parking lots, and rental stations. There is only one restriction — you cannot ride in the pedestrian zones during the day. The bike can be returned to any other automated station.
On the first Tuesday of each month, admission to the Bach Museum is free. There is an audio guide in various languages, but you have to pay for it separately.
Every Sunday, there are concerts at the F. Mendelssohn Bartholdy Museum.
It is advantageous to exchange currencies in local banks, as many of them do not charge commission. In exchange offices, on the other hand, the exchange rate can be unprofitable, and the commission is up to 10% of the converted amount.
Shopping centers and stores in Leipzig begin their work at 9:00 AM and close at 6:00 or 7:00 PM. Saturday is a shortened working day, and Sunday is a day off.
It is customary to leave tips in Leipzig, even if they are included in the bill. Typically, they are 5% - 10% of the amount. It is also appropriate to leave a gratuity to the maid and cab driver.
During tours, children, students, and seniors are often given discounts. To take advantage of them, you must have documents confirming the status of a beneficiary.
Things to do in Leipzig
- Visit the interactive Bach Museum, located in the house where he lived. The composer gave Leipzig the last years of his life, where he worked and created. You can learn about his family's history, see original manuscripts, musical instruments, books, sheet music, and other items related to the era in which Bach lived.
- See animals in their natural habitat at the Leipzig City Zoo. Its guests can observe the animals while strolling through the territory on their own or from special carriages that transport visitors from one site to another.
- Get the thrill of visiting the recreational park Belantis, located 10 kilometers from Leipzig. There are more than 60 dizzying rides. It is the largest park of its kind in Eastern Germany.
- Visit one of the most famous restaurants in the world, Auerbachs Keller. This is where Faust and Mephistopheles from Goethe's Faust met. A sculpture depicting the main characters of the philosophical drama meets guests at the entrance to the restaurant. The historical interior, dishes of Saxon cuisine, and the restaurant's special atmosphere will guarantee you a pleasant evening.
- Visit the F. Mendelssohn Bartholdy House Museum, where the composer spent the last years of his life. The setting and atmosphere in which he lived have been preserved, and his personal belongings are represented here. In the museum's effectorium, you can try yourself as a conductor — try to lead the sound of a virtual orchestra.
- See the Gohlis Palace, constructed at the end of the XVIII century, which quickly became the center of Leipzig's cultural life. You can visit it on a guided tour. It often hosts concerts and theatrical performances, and there is a restaurant in one of the parts of the building.
- Enjoy the view of the city from the observation deck on the roof of the Panorama Tower, the highest building in the city. There is a restaurant on the 29th floor, and if you drop 3€ into the turnstile here, you can get to the roof to enjoy incredible views of the city and its surroundings.
- See the Porsche and BMW factories with your own eyes and visit them with a guided tour. Tour the engine plant and cab assembly lines, paint shop, and interior equipment.
- Take a water tour of Leipzig, called Little Venice, because of the large number of artificial lakes and canals. You can choose a canoe, kayak, or inflatable boat for the ride.
- Walk through the historic city center see the Gothic Church of St. Thomas, the Old and New City Halls, the Old Exchange Office, and other architectural monuments.