Wednesday, 16 May 2012



Leipzig is one of the two largest cities (along with Dresden) in the federal state of Saxony, Germany. Leipzig is situated about 200 km south of Berlin at the confluence of the Weisse Elster, Pleisse and Parthe rivers at the southerly end of the North German Plain.

Leipzig was first documented in 1015 in the chronicles of Bishop Thietmar of Merseburg and endowed with city and market privileges in 1165 by Otto the Rich. Leipzig has fundamentally shaped the history of Saxony and of Germany and has always been known as a place of commerce. The Leipzig Trade Fair, started in the Middle Ages, became an event of international importance and is the oldest remaining trade fair in the world.

There are records of commercial fishing operations on the river Pleisse in Leipzig dating back to 1305, when the Margrave Dietrich the Younger granted the fishing rights to the church and convent of St. Thomas. There were a number of monasteries in and around the town, including a Benedectine monastery after which the Barfussgässchen (Barefoot Alley) is named and a monastery of Irish monks near the present day Ranstädter Steinweg (old Via Regia).

The Leipzig region was the arena of the 1813 Battle of Leipzig between Napoleonic France and an allied coalition of Prussia, Russia, Austria and Sweden. It was the largest battle in Europe prior to World War I and ended Napoleon's presence in Germany and would ultimately lead to his first exile on Elba. In 1913, the Monument to the Battle of the Nations monument celebrating the centenary of this event was completed. 

Neues Rathaus
The city's mayor from 1930 to 1937, Carl Friedrich Goerdeler was a noted opponent of the Nazi regime in Germany. He resigned in 1937 when, in his absence, his Nazi deputy ordered the destruction of the city's statue of Felix Mendelssohn. On Kristallnacht in 1938, one of the city's most architecturally significant buildings, the 1855 Moorish Revival Leipzig synagogue was deliberately destroyed. 

The city was also heavily damaged by Allied bombing during World War II. Unlike its neighbouring city of Dresden this was largely conventional bombing, with high explosives rather than incendiaries. The resultant pattern of loss was a patchwork, rather than wholesale loss of its centre, but was nevertheless very extensive.

The Allied ground advance into Germany reached Leipzig in late April 1945. The US 2nd Infantry Division and US 69th Infantry Division fought into the city on 18 April and completed its capture after fierce urban combat, in which fighting was often house-to-house and block-to-block, on 19 April 1945. The U.S. turned over the city to the Red Army as it pulled back from the line of contact with Soviet forces in July 1945 to the pre-designated occupation zone boundaries. Leipzig became one of the major cities of the German Democratic Republic (East Germany).

Today, Leipzig is the perfect location for a day's stroll through stores and boutiques. A large number of prestigious specialist retailers are located right in the city centre, suitably accommodated in the large Passagen arcades. A shopping trip could start under the arcades of the Old Town Hall, where Leipzig souvenirs and literature on the city are available. Mädler Passage, which leads on to Königshaus- und Messehofpassage, has a selection of luxury shops and boutiques to warm any shopper's heart. The shopping arcades in Specks Hof, the former trade-fair palace between Reichsstrasse and St Nicholas' Church square, and those in Barthels Hof have been extensively refurbished. There are new shopping arcades in Städtisches Kaufhaus, Strohsack-Passage and in Petersbogen. 

St. Nicholas Church

With its Hauptbahnhof-Promenaden, Leipzig's Central Station is one of the most modern shopping and service centres in Germany. Several well-known department stores have opened both in the city centre and in newly built shopping malls. But the pedestrian-oriented city centre remains the favourite destination for an interesting shopping trip for many Leipzig residents and visitors.

Leipzig's Fresh Foods Markets where agricultural produce from the region is sold by farmers and traders are most popular among the citizens and visitors. There is a market near Leipzig Central Stadium on Saturdays, where you can find almost anything your heart desires. 

In the period before Christmas, the Market Square and its neighbouring areas are decked out for the season – a Fairy-Tale Forest and the world's largest free-standing advent calendar are among the attractions for young and old at the popular Leipzig Christmas Market. 

Leipzig has always been commended as a hospitable city. Merchants coming to the city for trade fairs and students alike praised the city's public houses. Johann Wolfgang Goethe (who was a student in the city) immortalised Auerbachs Keller in his play "Faust", and a visit to the famous barrel cellar is not to be missed when in Leipzig.

Leipzigers are also known for their proverbial love of coffee, and the popularity of the hot drink from Arabia among the people here gave rise to the nickname "Kaffeesachse" ("Coffee-Saxon"). Hence it comes as no surprise to learn that coffee-houses were popular meeting places in the city as early as 1695. The coffee-house tradition is still maintained in various historical cafés in the city and is also being revived in newly established coffee-houses.

Moreover, the city has several "pub districts" including the one known as "Drallewatsch", running from Brühl precinct along Fleischergasse to the New Town Hall. Many pubs 'around the corner' have survived throughout the city, many of which serve good plain food. In addition, many of the allotment garden areas have their own garden pubs, whose beer gardens are especially popular in the summer. A particular Leipzig speciality "Leipzig Gose", a top-fermented beer which is brewed once again in Leipzig and was almost forgotten until revived by an enterprising Leipzig landlord. 

The number of restaurants, pubs and cafés has grown substantially in recent years. Today, Leipzig can offer its visitors a wide range of international cuisine as well as events restaurants of almost all kinds, combining the serving of food with exhibitions, music and dance, a unique atmosphere or interior design, or live performances. To combine the taste of a good beer and a decent snack, try one of the bowling or pool and billiard bars.

                                                        Leipzig's Top 5:
  1. The Thomaskirche (St. Thomas Church) is a Lutheran church and is most famous as the place where Johann Sebastian Bach worked as a cantor, and as the current location of his remains. There has been a church at the current site of the Thomaskirche since the 12th century. Between 1212 and 1222 the preceding church became the new St. Thomas Monastery of the Augustinian order. After several reconstructions (remains of an earlier Romanesque church were found during archaeological excavations), the current building, an example of late Gothic architecture, was consecrated by Thilo of Trotha, the Bishop of Merseburg, on April 10, 1496. The tower was first built in 1537 and reconstructed in 1702, leading to its current height of 68 meters. The composer Johann Sebastian Bach was choir director at St. Thomas Church from 1723 until his death in 1750. His statue that stands next to the church was dedicated in 1908.
  2. New Town Hall (Neues Rathaus) is the seat of the Leipzig city administration since 1905. It stands within the Leipzig's "ring road" on the south west corner opposite the city library at Martin-Luther-Ring. In 1895 the city of Leipzig was granted the site of the Pleissenburg by the Kingdom of Saxony to build a new town hall. A competition was held for architectural designs with the specification that the Rapunzel tower sillhouette of the Pleißenburg be retained. In 1897 the architect and city building director of Leipzig Hugo Licht was awarded the job of designing it. The foundation stone of the New Town Hall was laid on the 19th October 1899.
  3. The St. Nicholas Church. has long been one of the most famous in Leipzig, and rose to national fame in 1989 with the Monday Demonstrations when it became the centre of peaceful revolt against Communist rule. The church was built around 1165 when Leipzig, also known as St. Nicholas's City, was founded. It is named after St. Nicholas, the patron saint of merchants and wholesalers, and is situated in the very heart of the city on the intersection of two then important trade roads. It is built partially in the Romanesque style but was extended and enlarged in the early 16th century with a more Gothic style. The church saw four of the five performances (including the premiere) of the St John Passion by Johann Sebastian Bach on Good Friday in 1724, 1728, 1732, and 1749 as well as many of his cantatas and oratorios performed by the Thomanerchor.
  4. Leipzig Opera House. The Leipzig Opera traces its establishment to the year 1693. The Leipzig Opera does not have its own opera orchestra, and the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra performs as the orchestra for the opera. This relationship dates back to 1766, with performances of the Singspiel Die verwandelten Weiber, oder Der Teufel ist losby Johann Adam Hiller. The previous theater (the "Neues Theater") was inaugurated on January 28, 1868. From 1886 to 1888, Gustav Mahler was the second conductor; Arthur Nikisch was his superior. During an air raid in the night of December 3, 1943, the theater was destroyed, as were all Leipzig's theatres. Construction of the modern opera house began in 1956. The theatre was inaugurated on October 8, 1960, with a performance of Wagner's Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg.
  5. The Monument to the Battle of the Nations. is a monument to the 1813 Battle of Leipzig, also known as the Battle of the Nations. Paid for mostly by donations and by the city of Leipzig, it was completed in 1913 for the 100th anniversary of the battle, at a cost of 6,000,000 Goldmark. The monument commemorates Napoleon's defeat at Leipzig, a crucial step towards the end of hostilities in the War of the Sixth Coalition, which was seen as a victory for the German people, although Germany as we know it did not exist at that time. There were German-speakers fighting on both sides, as Napoleon's troops also included conscripted Germans from the French-occupied left bank of the Rhine as well as from the Confederation of the Rhine. The structure is 91 metres tall. It contains over 500 steps to a viewing platform at the top, from which there are spectacular views across the city and environs. The structure makes extensive use of concrete, although the facings are of granite. The monument is widely regarded as one of the best examples of Wilhelmine architecture. It is said to stand on the spot of some of the bloodiest fighting, from where Napoleon ordered the retreat of his army.

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