The city of Leipzig, known since the Middle Ages for its fairs and markets, lies in the lowlands of Saxony at the junction of the rivers Weisse Elster and Pleisse. This setting on important trade routes gave Leipzig considerable commercial power, and after being granted the privilege of holding fairs, it became the principal city of Saxony after Dresden. It also became a centre of art and learning, as well as an important centre for the book trade. This legacy lives on, as seen by its old publishing houses, large libraries (including the German Library) and its the International Book Fair. It has been a city of culture and was the home of Bach and Mendelssohn. Martin Luther preached here, and Goethe set scenes from Faust in one of its restaurants.
Today, Leipzig is one of the most popular tourist destinations in eastern Germany and, thanks to its rich cultural and musical heritage, is regularly cited as one of Europe's most liveable cities. It's a very manageable city, with plenty of things to do right in the compact historic centre. But as much as the attractions are close by, don't think you can just spend a day in Leipzig - you'll want time to see its excellent museums, pause for a concert in one of its churches, and savour sweet treats in at least one of the cafes, houses they're famous for, or a brewery.
10 Places to visit in Leipzig
Located at the eastern end of the city of Leipzig, Augustusplatz is the largest square in Europe.
On this square, you can explore cathedrals and various historical landmarks. In addition, this square hosts festivals, concerts and seasonal markets throughout the year. The city skyscraper is located on Augustusplatz and on the roof of this magnificent building there is an observation platform from where you can see the amazing panoramic views of the city of Leipzig.
2. St. Thomas Church
Dating back to the 12th century this church is Gothic and Baroque. After its massive destruction during World War II, it was meticulously rebuilt before its grand reopening to the public in 2000. In this church, Johann Sebastian was a conductor (from 1723 to 1750) and organist. The Church of St Thomas is also the burial place of Johann Sebastian Bach, since 1950. The statue of Johann Sebastian Bach is one of the main tourist attractions of St Thomas' Church. On Fridays, Saturdays or Sundays, you can stop to listen to the performance of the St. Thomas Church boys' choir. It is one of the most prestigious choirs in the world and costs only about 2. Richard Wagner was also baptised in this church.
3. BACH Museum
Right in front of the Church of St. Thomas is the Bach museum. This museum displays the life and works of Johann Sebastian Bach.
The treasure room is one of the most interesting things to see in the Bach museum. In this room, they display showcases where Bach kept his manuscripts.
There is also a display of Bachs family tree. Here, you can trace his family members and discover the members who were involved in music, those who were organists, court musicians, instrument makers and even singers.
4. Leipzig Zoo
Founded in 1878, Leipzig Zoo is one of the oldest zoos in Germany. The zoo, which spans over 27 hectares, is home to 850 different species and over 5,000 wild animals from Asia, Africa and South America. Leipzig zoo has 6 themed exhibitions, an aviary, an aquarium and a monkey enclosure.
Leipzig Zoo has become a pioneer of new habitat concepts, such as the biome Gondwanaland and Pongoland. The Pongoland indoor project houses chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans and bonobos.
5. Leipzigs' unique dish, Allerlei
This dish is a mixture of sautéed or steamed asparagus, carrots, peas and morel mushrooms. It is usually served with langoustines and bread dumplings. It is also believed that this dish was a 19th century creation in Leipzig as a ruse against tax collectors and marauding soldiers. Only a handful of restaurants in Leipzig prepare this regional dish using traditional methods to this day. But, you can be sure to get an original at Auerbachs Keller.
Auerbachs Keller was frequented by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Queen Elizabeth II and Martin Luther.
Markt is an old square rectangular centre with numerous shops and restaurants. In the winter season, the Christmas market is held here. The market square has an Easter market and a weekly produce market at other times of the year. In addition, there are weekend markets and occasional contemporary festivals, for example during the Gothic festival (Wave- Gothic Treffen), the largest Gothic festival in the world, where they display stalls with medieval themes.
7. Altes Rathaus, Old Town Hall and Old City Hall
Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall), was founded in 1556, and is a key example of Renaissance architecture adorned with gables, barred windows and a tower. This 2-storey building is Leipzig's most impressive landmark. It has a sophisticated ballroom that hosts exhibitions, events and concerts throughout the year. In this hall, you can visit the City History Museum to learn in-depth details of the history of Leipzig's development from medieval times to the present day. One of the museum's most striking exhibits is the 19th century miniature city model.
8. Grassi Museum
The Grassi Museum is one of the most amazing attractions in Leipzig. It houses three separate museums, including the Museum of Musical Instruments, the Museum of Ethnography and the Museum of Applied Arts.
The museum is named after Franz Dominic Grassi, an Italian businessman who lived in Leipzig. Franz left more than 2 million marks to the city of Leipzig after his death, which helped build the Old Grassi Museum, Mende Fountain and Gewandhaus.
That Old Grassi Museum became too small for the growing number of collections, which led the then director to start the project to build the New Grassi Museum carried out between 1925 and 1929.
9. Mendelssohn House and St. Thomas Church
The Mendelssohn House in Leipzig is the only authentically preserved residence of the great composer, Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy. Originally built in 1844, and occupied by the composer and his family from 1845 onwards. In the music hall are Mendelssohn's personal belongings, sheet music and watercolour paintings, as well as documents and exhibits relating to his life and work. In 2014, new interactive features were added to the museum, including a video library and the "Effektorium" - a conducting podium where visitors can conduct a virtual orchestra. The music hall is used, as in Mendelssohn's day, for the weekly Sunday Concerts, Leipzig's summer of piano. A statue of Mendelssohn stands in a small park outside St. Thomas Church.
10. Battle of the Nations Monument
The Völkerschlachtdenkmal, which can be translated as Battle of Nations Monument, is one of the city's most important landmarks. The monument was completed in 1913, being commissioned to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Napoleon's defeat at the Battle of Nations, which took place in 1813. There you will find a 91 metre belvedere, where you can enjoy a fabulous view after climbing 364 steps.
How to get There?
Leipzig/Halle Airport (LEJ) is located 18 km from the city.
Buses: You can take the bus from here: P11 / Terminalring 11, Flughafen Leipzig/Halle (LEJ), 04435 Schkeuditz. It takes about 30 minutes to get to the city. It is the cheapest way to get to the city and there are various prices, depending on the companies: LVB, Flixbus and RegioJet.
Taxi available in front of Terminal B. The journey to the centre of Leipzig takes about 30 minutes. The companies operating in the precinct are: DTS Taxi Service (Tel +49 341 4233), 4884 Ihr Funktaxi Leipzig (Tel +49 341 4884), Funktaxi Leipzig (Tel +49 341 600 500), Löwentaxi (Tel +49 341 982 222), Taxi- und Mietwagengenossenschaft Halle (Tel +49 345 525 252 / 212 121). This mode of transport is the most expensive.
Train: The train is direct and costs about 10 euros. The station is located below the main terminal. The S-Bahn Mitteldeutschland S5 and S5X lines travel to Leipzig central station in about 15 minutes.