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 Market Square
The Leipzig Market Square marks the old city center. The massive space is nearly a hectare in area, and it contains several shops and restaurants. In the winter, Leipzig’s Christmas market is held here as well, and it is often regarded as one of the most beautiful in Europe. The old city hall, which dates back to the 16th century, is situated within the Market Square, too. Inside this building, there is a museum where visitors can learn more about the history of Leipzig. The occasional weekend market and concert are also held at the square in contemporary times.
Monument to the Battle of the Nations
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.
Check out Leipzig’s beautiful churches
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.
Museum der Bildenden Künste
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.
The Leipzig Zoo offers an exciting break from the surrounding urban landscape. It spans across 27 hectares of land and is home to over 850 different species. The zoo is renowned for several of its features, including Pongoland where a multitude of different primates live, including chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas, orangutans, and more. The world’s largest indoor rainforest atrium can also be found here, and guests are able to explore its many winding paths for glimpses of animals hailing from Africa, South America, and Asia. The zoo even contains a volcano tunnel where people can examine some of the world’s oldest creatures.
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.
Leipzig’s nightlife scene is also on the rise, with multiple underground techno clubs that have marked the city’s cultural scene for several years. Distillery, the city’s oldest club, is the one most worth visiting. It is set discretely behind wooden fencing covered in graffiti, and guests must knock on the door to gain entry. That is, if the doorman deems them worthy. While the door policy is nowhere near as strict as other famous techno clubs like Berghain, it does give the Distillery a similar vibe. Inside, there are multiple dance floors featuring different varieties of techno music.