‘Mein Leipzig lob ich mir’ – J W Gothe.
OK, so I know Germany isn’t always at the top of everyone’s travel bucket list but hear me out. Chances are if you’ve ever thought about visiting Germany, you thought about Berlin’s amazing nightlife or Munich’s world-renowned Oktoberfest. But have you ever considered Leipzig? Nowadays many young people refer to this up and coming city as the newBerlin or more affectionately ‘Hypezig’. Deterred by the high rent prices in the nation’s capital, in recent years young Germans have flocked here in their thousands to work and attend the word class university (German Chancellor Angela Merkel also studied here!). Despite its recent resurgence, Leipzig actually has a long history and for centuries was a place synonymous with art, culture as well as a successful financial center. However, in the latter half of the 20th century, Leipzig fell under Soviet rule and was part of the communist GDR (East Germany), meaning that it no longer enjoyed the same cultural freedoms as before. It is perhaps this which leads people to think of eastern Germany as a grey, dull place when in fact, it is full of hidden gems, like Leipzig! So why should you consider Leipzig for your next city break? Here are my top reasons and attractions (I might be biased though…)
History: Leipzig’s long and varied history means that there’s something that will interest everyone!
I’m a huge history nerd so there’s always something to see in Leipzig for me! Indeed the peaceful revolution started in Leipzig, originally a student movement, Leipzigers would stage demonstrations in the late ’80s which would eventually lead to German reunification in 1989. Of course, such rich history means museums galore, if you’re a museum fan you should definitely check out the zeitgeschictliches forum and the Runde Ecke museums, both present different insights into life in the GDR, from secret police surveillance to GDR design. I think these museums are so great as this period in world history, for Leipzig is actually local history! Even if you’re not a museum fan, these could be worth checking out as they are both FREE ENTRY!
Leipzig’s history is also reflected in its architecture. Whilst in Leipzig, you should definitely stop off at the Nikolai Kirchein the city centre. The only way I can describe this church is by asking you to imagine Barbie having a baroque church fantasy playset. Yeah. Those of you who have been will know that I have completely nailed that description
As well as this you can’t miss the Newly built Leipzig university buildings at Augustus Platz. Originally this building was a church but was demolished but the state in 1968 in favour of more socialist architecture. Now the Building features a glass façade in the style of the original church (a model of which can be seen in front of the university). The building is not used exclusively as a church but as a multifunctional space which holds Church services.
Music: If you’re a music lover then Leipzig is perfect for you! Indeed, It’s hard to walk through the city centre without being captivated by street performers.
Once again, Leipzig’s reputation as a ‘music city’ stems from its rich cultural history, in fact, Leipzig has been home to some of the most famous composers in history, most notably Bach. The city of Leipzig seems to be very proud of this and you can find little references to him everywhere. There is a Bach museum but if you’re not super interested or just on a budget, you should just visit the Thomas Kirche where Bach was the musical director for a number of years. There you can see some original scores as well as his organ. As well as Bach you can also see monuments to Wagner who even has a whole square named after him (Wagnerplatz) and Mendelssohn.
Why not catch some live music in one of Leipzig’s beautiful concert houses. The two main ones are situated at Augustus Platz right opposite each other. There’s the leipziger opera and the world famous gewandhaus with its beautifully painted interior. It’s not all classical music and opera though if you’re after something a bit different try the Krystallpalast varieté, offering a variety of cabaret acts as well as food and drink.
Are you down for a bit of walking? Well, you should follow the ‘NotenSpur’ or music trail. When you’ve been walking around Leipzig for a little while you might start to notice little swirly plaques on the ground. These are most likely the music trail. The trail is linked to an app which leads you on various routes around the city of Leipzig. This is perfect both for learning things about Leipzig’s ‘note’-worthy (haha) musical history and also catching some sights which may be a little more off the beaten track as you walk through the different neighbourhoods.
The ‘scene’: Ok Ok, so I know I’ve been banging on about history, But Leipzig really is up and coming and cool!
General consensus is the neighbourhood of Plagwitz if the centre of all things cool in Leipzig. Once an industrial hub the warehouses have been reclaimed and now house many boutiques and little eateries. Plagwitz is home to a lot of creative types and those who favour a bohemian lifestyle, I really like the vibe here. Whilst in this neighbourhood, the Spinnerei is worth a visit! It’s an old cotton mill which has now been reclaimed by artists and houses all kinds of exhibitions and galleries. Or similar to the notenspur, why not take a self-guided street art tour?
Closer to the city centre there’s Karl-Liebknecht-Straßeknown locally as ‘Karli’. This is a pretty long street and a popular area for students. This means that there are plenty of bars and restaurants here as well as quirky little shops. I would reccomed getraenkefeinkost which is just off Karli, it’s actually a little speciality drinks shop but there are places to sit and sip. It’s also the only place I have found a reasonably priced bulmers. Living abroad is hard sometimes. Ok.
I personally think it’s worth the hype. Is it the new Berlin? Maybe. It’s steeped in history and has serious credentials when it comes to culture and creativity. For now it’s relatively cheap and hopefully, it stays that way, but as it grows in popularity both with young Germans moving there and putting down roots, and tourists finally seeing its potential, is it just a matter of time before it ends up like Berlin? I’d say, get in and see for yourself.