Visiting Leipzig - What to See and Do
(Leipzig Halle Airport LEJ, Germany)
Of all the cities in the former East Germany
is definitely one of the most appealing. Although most of the old city was leveled during WWII, there are still a few pockets of 16th-century houses in the historic neighbourhoods that weren't bombed.
Most of Leipzig is modern. Glass and steel skyscrapers attest to its prosperity, and the flashy array of nightclubs give the residents a place to spend their cash and show off their professed sense of style. The large student population certainly plays a part in keeping Leipzig as cool as Berlin
, while the local bands and chilled café scene are arguably as good as in the capital.
Traditional music also has deep roots in Leipzig. Wagner was born here, Bach lived here and Mozart performed here. This is a good city to see classical concerts or opera. It has also got a great zoo, as well as a dozen respectable museums and cultural attractions covering a variety of topics. All in all, this city is well worth adding to an itinerary of eastern Germany.
Ten things you must do in Leipzig
- The Old Town Hall was built in 1556 and is the star architectural attraction in Leipzig. It sits at the geographical centre of the city, on its main square. Although governance was moved to the New Town Hall in 1909, visitors can duck inside and explore the museum here, which showcases the entire history of the city, from the 12th century to the modern era.
- Art aficionados should spend a day wandering among the 2,700 paintings on display within the Museum der Bildenden Künste. It is easily one of Eastern Germany's top art museums, with a solid and diverse collection of masterpieces. Its unique architecture, akin to a glass cube, is also a reason to visit.
- Leipzig's zoo is one of the best in Germany, being known around the globe for its breeding program of large carnivores. Visitors won't be disappointed with the range of big cats and other large mammals. It also has an equally inviting aquarium complex, and in fact, only Berlin's aquarium is larger in Germany.
- Visitors of the Grassi Museum get three attractions for the price of one. The Art Deco structure is a delight in itself, but inside, the Musical Instruments Museum, the Arts and Crafts Museum, and the Ethnological Museum are the real highlights. Three very different topics, but each one a quality venue in its own right.
- Fans of classical music will want to step inside the Thomaskirche, the church where Bach was choirmaster and is now buried next to the altar. Both Mendelssohn and Mozart performed here, and Wagner was actually christened here. Try to catch a Sunday morning or Friday evening performance of the St. Thomas Boy's Choir if they aren't on tour.
- Johann Sebastian Bach's original home was moved and rebuilt right behind the Thomaskirche, and now stands as a museum to this great composer. Inside is a rich array of mementos and archives from the man himself and his family.
- One of Germany's most celebrated opera companies, Leipziger Oper, plays in Leipzig at the Neues Opernhaus. Attached to their venue is the Kellertheater, which hosts a wonderful range of eclectic performances covering theatre, art and music.
- The Gewandhaus Orchestra was once under the direction of Felix Mendelssohn until his death in 1847. This acclaimed orchestra has been one of Europe's finest since its inception in 1781 and it still often plays at the Das Gewandhaus in the heart of Leipzig.
- Shoppers won't be disappointed in Leipzig. The Hauptbahnhof, on Willy-Brandt-Platz, is loaded with roughly 150 restaurants, cafés and shops of all kinds. The Neumarkt Passage is an old first-edition book hunters paradise, with dozens of old bookshops, and just down the street in the city core are countless other independent shops that have been around for decades, including a large number of excellent antique stores.
- Leipzig is famous for its unique passages that appear out of nowhere in the city centre. There are many of them, mostly filled with shops and cafés, scattered throughout the downtown area and offering something special to break up the monotony of the urban landscape. From the Madlerpassage to the Jagerhofpassage, and the oldest of the lot, Speck's Hof and HansaHaus, there are plenty of passages to discover.