Leipzig is Saxony’s coolest city – it’s young and vibrant and has been proclaimed the ‘New Berlin’. A playground for nomadic creatives who are looking for cheap rent, roomy studios and a similar energy to the quickly gentrifying German capital, it’s also a city steeped in history, having played an instrumental part in bringing down the Berlin Wall. With modern architectural gems, a wide array of spots for music enthusiasts and plenty of museums and galleries to explore, a trip to Leipzig can quickly fill up with a wealth of sites. Here are the 15 must-visit attractions to see in Leipzig.
Nikolaikirche is famous for playing an instrumental part in the nonviolent movement that led to the downfall of the Berlin Wall. The church hosted ‘peace prayers’ as early as 1982, to show solidarity against the East German government and empowering the city’s citizens to confront injustices brought by the Wall. Held every Monday at 5pm, these prayer sessions are still held to this day. Starting in late 1989, the ‘peace prayers’ were followed by candlelit demonstrations, which reached their peak in October 1989, when some 70,000 citizens took to the streets to participate. Aside from this pivotal role in Germany’s history, the church also has a stunning interior which dates back to 1797 with Romanesque and Gothic roots.
The Old Town Hall in Leipzig is both a stunning architectural landmark and a museum exploring the town’s history from the Middle Ages to the present day. The building is considered one of the most beautiful Renaissance buildings in Germany, and its position facing the large market square make it a wonderful place to sit and people watch. Inside, the building houses the Museum of City History Leipzig, which invites visitors to enjoy a permanent exhibition that tours through the turbulent history of Leipzig. From old prison cells in the basement to historic rooms on the main floor, it’s a comprehensive look into the city’s past.
Museum of Fine Arts in Leipzig showcases the best in art with rolling exhibitions and an impressive permanent collection. Centrally located, this modernist glass cubed building houses an impressive collection of world-class painting from the 15th century to today, including works by Caspar David Friedrich, Munch and Monet. The museum also sets aside rooms to showcase local talent, with works from Neo Rauch and Max Klinger on display. Exhibits are juxtaposed to range from sculpture and installation to painting or religious art. The collective is extensive and is best explored at a leisurely pace, so set aside a few hours to experience the museum to its fullest.
Museum in der ‘Runden Ecke’, also known as the Stasi Museum in Leipzig, delves into GDR history. Housed in the former East German police headquarters, also known as the Stasi, this chilling and archival exhibition explores what life was like behind the Iron Curtain. English guides are available, and necessary, to fully understand and appreciate the extensive collection of Stasi propaganda, cunning surveillance equipment and other machinations that explore the GDR‘s controlling and oppressive rule.
Leipzig was once site to an epic battle in 1813, that led to the decisive victory of Prussian, Austrian and Russian forces over Napoleon’s army. Centuries later, the Monument to the Battle of the Nations was built in honour of this bloody battle. An impressive 91 meters high, the sombre shrine has a distinctive Gothic look, and atop the colossal site are sweeping city views that are well worth the trek up.
The Alte Börse, or the Old Stock Exchange at Naschmarkt, is Leipzig‘s oldest Baroque building. It has served as a gathering place for 200 years and was originally built by merchants in 1678. Here, auctions were held, money was exchanged, as the site was a mecca of business. Today, the Alte Börse is used for concerts, readings and theatre performances.
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