Enjoy a travel to Leipzig: classical music, culture, shopping and good food
When planning a trip to Berlin, always consider short travels to beautiful destinations around. A visit in Potsdam is the traditional choice, but here is another great offer: Leipzig. Actually, why not both?
In many ways, Berlin and Leipzig complement each other. When speaking about Leipzig, it is, first of all, its unique architecture, music, and shopping that make it attractive.
Like Berlin, Leipzig (pronounced ly’pe-tsig) is a city in East Germany, but in a different federal state, Saxony.
Most important tour sites are in the Leipzig’s center, and may be visited in one day. That means it’s possible to go there from Berlin and return to Berlin the same day. Going one way by train takes one hour and 20 minutes only.
Tourist Information Bureau in Leipzig is located near the main train station, and is open every day.
If you plan to stay in Leipzig more than a day, go to the bureau and buy a “Leipzig Card” that gives you free travel on public transportation and discounts in most major city’s attractions. Three-day ticket price is 18.50 Euros per person, or 34 Euros for a couple with two children.
Boys who sing Bach
So what’s so special about Leipzig?
First of all, it’s the “City of Music”. Leipzig is regarded as the city of Johann Sebastian Bach. The great composer was not born in Leipzig, but definitely created his wonderful music there.
Representing Bach more than anything else is Thomas Church, where he served as musical director and played the organ almost 30 years, until the day he died. The famous boys’ choir which he conducted, more than 250 years ago, sings Bach until now, in the same church. Listening to a concert of the choir, called in German “Thomanerchor”, is a wonderful experience for music lovers.
Bach’s music is also played often elsewhere in Leipzig. For example, in the City’s Opera hall and in Bach’s Museum.
Musicians and museums
Speaking of classical music, Leipzig is not only the city of Bach. It is also the city of Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, the great romantic composer. The house where he lived and died, at Goldschmidt Street 12, is now a museum honoring the composer and work.
Another famous composer, Richard Wagner, was born in Leipzig, and the composer Robert Schumann lived there. Both are memorialized by museums as well.
Where do malls come from?
Besides music, what makes Leipzig unique is being a pioneer in commerce. The first shopping arcade in the world, known as Passage, was built in Leipzig in the beginning of the 20th century.
The passage was actually the predecessor of the modern mall. Leipzig developed this kind of salesmanship into an art, and created an exclusive Passages’ architecture.
At least a dozen of these elegant shopping centers is active there until today and worth visiting. Window shopping in the Passages is possible at any time, but if you really want to buy something do not go there Sundays, when most shops are closed.
Luther and Napoleon
Speaking of history and of Thomas Church (Thomaskirche, in German), this building was the place where Martin Luther, founder of the Reformation movement, addressed at Leipzig residents 1539 and convinced them into Protestantism.
In addition to the Thomas Church, the Nikolai (St Nicholas) Church is another tourists’ attraction. The church was the first base of the quiet protests in 1989, which ended in toppling the Berlin Wall.
10 minutes drive from the city center by tram (line 15) another historical site is located: the monument commemorating the defeat of Napoleon at the “Battle of Nations”, 1813. The German Kaiser Wilhelm the 2nd unveiled the huge monument, the largest in Europe, on the battle’s 100th anniversary.
For a small entrance fee, you may climb to the top of the monument for observation. There is a museum as well.
A communist point of view
The best view of Leipzig is available from the top of the tallest house in town, which is located in Augustus Square. The edifice is a remnant of the Communist spectacular building style. Today it is leased to the German Broadcasting Company MDR.
Leipzig was devastated by the allied bombings in World War II, and was not much of a city during the communist regime. However, since the re-unification of Germany, it has been renovated and restored.
Food and literature
In Leipzig center, there are an abundance of restaurants, pubs and bars. The food is good and the prices are not high. The most famous restaurant is “Auerbach’s cellar”, located in Grimmaische street 2.
The place attracts many tourists, especially German literature lovers, because it is mentioned in Goethe’s play Faust. However, it serves a delicious traditional Saxon menu as well.
In addition, there are a lot of greenery and water, a walking distance from midtown.
A list of all beautiful places in Leipzig, many photos, and walking routes are to be found in my site www.berlinwalking.com.
Moshe Reinfeld is a veteran journalist and Travel expert.