Germany City Travel Guide: Leipzig

Central Leipzig, Germany.Central Leipzig with the Federal Administrative Court

Leipzig

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St. Thomas Church, Leipzig.St. Thomas Church, Leipzig

Leipzig was once one of Europe's richest and most artistic cities.
Leipzig university dates back to 1409 and the some of the great names of German music, literature and science: Bach, Goethe, Leibniz, Mendelssohn, Nietsche, Schiller, Schumann and Wagner lived in the city at some point in their lives.

Gewandhaus Orchestra

Leipzig's early growth and wealth was based on book publishing, trade fairs and its famous university which attracted scholars from all over Europe. This prosperity was reflected in the arts, particularly music which has a long tradition in the city: The Gewandhaus Orchestra founded in 1743 is Europe's longest-established orchestra and was once conducted by Mendelssohn, the Opernhaus (opera house) dates back to 1693 and the famous Thomaner Choir was directed by Bach.

View of Leipzig.View of Leipzig

Leipzig has experienced tremendous change since the peaceful revolution of 1989 and the disappearance of the former German Democratic Republic (GDR). Historic buildings have been restored and cleaned and much of the city's vibrancy and street life have returned.

Hauptbahnhof

Arriving at Leipzig's main station is a delight as the Hauptbahnhof - the largest terminal station in Europe - is one of city's most imposing buildings. Katherinenstrasse leading to the Markt Square and the Altes Rathaus was once the city's most splendid street, though only the historic buildings: the Romanushaus & the Fregehaus escaped WWII bombing.

Altes Rathaus, Leipzig.Altes Rathaus

The fine Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall) contains the Stadtgeschichtliches Museum (City History Museum). In this area is the beautifully-restored covered shopping area - Mädler-Passage - which contains the Auerbachs Keller, a student tavern dating from 1526 and used as a setting in Goethe's Faust.

The nearby Zum Arabischen Coffe Baum is the oldest cafe in town and houses an interesting free museum dedicated to coffee. You can still sit at the composer Richard Schumann's table.

The Neues Rathaus (New Town Hall) dates from the beginning of the 20th century and is the tallest town hall in Germany at nearly 115 meters. The building was the site of numerous mass suicides during the final days of the Nazi regime.

Neues Rathaus, Leipzig.Neues Rathaus

Thomaskirche

Heading south west of the Markt is the Thomaskirche (Church of St. Thomas) and home of the world-famous Thomaner Choir, for whom Johann Sebastian Bach composed. The nearby Bach Museum contains mementoes of the composer and a collection of musical instruments of the time.

East of the Markt is the Nikolaikirche (Church of St. Nicholas) with its beautiful Classical interior. The church was a center of protest against the old GDR regime. Opposite is former church school, the Alte Nikolaischule, now part of the university which houses the Antikenmuseum: a collection of Greek and Roman antiquities.

Monument to the Battle of the Nations (Völkerschlachtdenkmal).Monument to the Battle of the Nations (Völkerschlachtdenkmal)

Southeast of the church is the huge Augustusplatz square with the Opera house on its northern edge and the Gewandhaus Orchestra building to the south. Leipzig's highest building - the 142 meter Universitätshochhaus - was built in the shape of an open book during the Communist period. The Ägyptisches Museum (Egyptian Museum) is in this area and has a good collection of Egyptian antiquities.

Stasi Museum

Leipzig's other notable museums in Leipzig include the fascinating Stasi Museum (Museum in der Runden Ecke) to the west of town, which contains exhibits on the GDR's hated secret police.

Just south of the Altes Rathaus is another museum dedicated to the Communist era and the history of the GDR - the Zeitgeschichtliches Forum (Forum of Contemporary History).

The Monument to the Battle of the Nations (Völkerschlachtdenkmal) is a monument to the Battle of Leipzig completed in 1913 for the 100th anniversary of the huge battle.

Colditz Escape Museum, 46 km south of Leipzig, is housed in the original fortress where Allied prisoners were imprisoned during WWII.

Balcony of the Bach-Cafe near St. Thomas Church, Leipzig by Lars Gohler.Balcony of the Bach-Cafe near St. Thomas Church, Leipzig by Lars Gohler

Leipzig Tourist Offices

Richard Wagner Strasse 1
04109 Leipzig
Tel: (0341) 710 4265
Fax: (0341) 710 4/271 or 276
Info@LTS-Leipzig.de

Main station in Leipzig, Germany.Leipzig Station

Getting to Leipzig

Air

Leipzig Halle airport is 20 km outside the city and there are regular shuttle buses to the main station as well as the Airport Express train to the Hauptbahnhof which takes about 15 minutes. The airport is served by several European airways including British Airways (BA), Air France and KLM.
Altenburg airport, which is 45 km from Leipzig, has shuttle buses into the center which take around 1 hour 20 minutes.

Mephisto talking to Faust in the Maedler Passage in the center of Leipzig by Lars Gohler.Mephisto talking to Faust in the Maedler Passage in the center of Leipzig by Lars Gohler

Train

Leipzig has rail connections to Berlin (2-3 hours), Frankfurt (3 hours 45 mins), Munich (7 hours), Hannover (3 hours 45 mins), Hamburg (4 hours 30 mins) and Dresden (90 minutes). Leipzig is also within easy reach of Prague in the Czech Republic.
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Bus/Road

Leipzig connects by autobahn with Berlin and Munich (A-9) and Dresden (A-14).

City Transport

Most of Leipzig's main sites lie with the Ring road that surrounds the Altstadt (Old Town). The city has an integrated public transport system of buses, S-Bahn and trams. Tram is the best method of getting around in the city center. The tourist office sells the Leipzig Welcome Card which gives discounts for city museums and free travel on buses and trams. The card is available as a 1 or 3-day pass.

Friedrich Ebert Street with a view to the Federal Administrative Court, Leipzig by Lars Gohler.Friedrich Ebert Street with a view to the Federal Administrative Court, Leipzig by Lars Gohler

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Accommodation

Featured Hotel

NH Leipzig Messe - a new 4 Star hotel with 108 rooms.

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Eating

Some recommended eateries include Ratskeller at Lotterstraße 1, the Michelin-starred French bistro C'est la vie and Wagners Restaurant & Weinwirtschaft. For vegans and vegetarian the city is not short ofmeat-free options. Head for Vegan Express or Veganese Quan Chay.

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Drinking

The junction of Munzgasse and Peters-Steinweg has a row of local bars. Oskar at Harkortstraße 21 is a restaurant, bar, and music venue all rolled into one. Fans of vodka should head for Vodkaria at Gottschedstraße 15. Other great bars include Jet with lots of games including table football and foosball at Arthur-Hoffmann-Straße 54, Cáo Bar & Restaurant and on Beyerhaus at Ernst-Schneller-Straße 6 in the south of the city.

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Bars, Cafes, Pubs & Internet Cafes

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Central Stadium, Leipzig by Lars Gohler.Zentral Stadion (Central Stadium), Leipzig by Lars Gohler

Local football teams

VFB Leipzig.

VFB Leipzig won the first national championship in 1903 and again in 1906 and 1913 but a hundred years on the club went into liquidation in 2004 with debts of over US$5m. After one season in the Bundesliga 93/94, the club had been languishing in the Oberliga or fourth division. The club is planning to start again as FC Locomotive Leipzig.

RasenBallsport Leipzig e.V., (RB Leipzig), was founded in 2009 by energy drink-maker Red Bull who bought the playing rights of fifth division side SSV Markranstädt. RB Leipzig made it to the Bundesliga for the 2016-2017 season.

Many of the top clubs in the former GDR: Dynamo Berlin, Carl Zeiss Jena, Dynamo Dresden and Magdeburg had a tough time adapting to the new economic realities after reunification. Leipzig's World Cup stadium Zentral Stadion (now known as the Red Bull Arena and home to RB Leipzig) seats 44,000.

For Euro 2024 the stadium will be known simply as Leipzig Stadium.

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