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Leipzig is a place with lots to do and a pretty splendid multicultural scene. Yet, it often falls under travelers’ radar in comparison to other cities in Germany, like Berlin, Cologne, Munich, or even Dresden. What was once the most productive manufacturing hub in the GDR has since morphed into one of the most livable cities in Germany. Indeed, we can testify that Leipzig is the place to be. Here are eight essential things to include on your itinerary.
Leipzig’s Monument to the Battle of the Nations was erected in 1913 in celebration of 100 years since Napoleon’s defeat and retreat from Germany. Standing at 91m tall, visitors can climb 500 stairs to the top where a splendid view of the city awaits. Inside, there is also an abundance of historical information regarding the 1813 battle that finally excised Napoleon from the city. Hitler himself was known to frequent the towering structure, and he even housed his meetings in the city here. It was one of the final strongholds in the city left when the Allies captured Leipzig at the end of the war.
Amongst other historic buildings, Leipzig’s churches are known to stand out. St. Thomas Church and St. Nicholas Church, are the two most noteworthy and worth seeing. Completed in 1496, St. Thomas Church was the place where Bach himself played his compositions and worked as the choir director. Today, his body is buried in the church’s cemetery. The church holds further historical significance as the place where Martin Luther preached on Pentecost. The exquisite St. Nicholas Church is the oldest and largest church in the city. Constructed in 1165, it is located at the city center, and it was designed with both Romanesque, gothic, and baroque architectural components.
St. Thomas Church: Thomaskirchhof 18, Leipzig, Germany, +49 0341 222240
St. Nicholas Church: Nikolaikirchhof 3, Leipzig, Germany
Bach and Martin Luther weren’t the only German historical figures with important connections to Leipzig. Goethe, who is often regarded as Germany’s Shakespeare, also spent time in the city, as he studied at Leipzig University. Goethe loved to eat and drink at Auerbach’s Cellar, which also happens to be the second oldest restaurant in the city. The wine bar has existed since 1438, making this is an excellent spot to enjoy a glass of drink whilst steeped in the city’s rich history. Despite the fact that this place does air on the touristy side of things, the atmosphere is cozy, and the food is still quite good.
Often regarded as an up-and-coming city with an emerging arts scene, no trip to Leipzig would be complete without a look around at some of its most reputable galleries, museums, and other art venues. If you only have time to visit one, let us recommend Leipzig’s museum of fine arts, Museum der Bildenden Kunst. The enormous glass building itself is something worth marveling at, but it’s the interior whose exploration is truly worthwhile. The museum holds a vast collection of paintings ranging from the 15th century to the present, with notable works by Monet and Munch. Other museums worth visiting include the picturesque Grassi Museum, which contains both art and musical relics, and the Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst, the city’s premier contemporary collection.
For a dose of highbrow culture, head over to Oper Leipzig. Situated on the iconic Augustusplatz, this opera was first formulated in 1683, making it the third oldest of its kind in Europe. The building that stands today, however, actually originated in 1960 when Leipzig was under GDR control. For more information about tickets and programming, check out their website, here. It is even possible to receive a guided tour of the opera house for the lowdown on its unique history. This is yet another way to enjoy Leipzig’s long and prestigious musical tradition.