Leipzig

Apologies in advance for the quality of the photos in this post, they were taken over 6 years ago on a very cheap digital camera and therefore are definitely NOT of the quality I’d prefer to use.

Leipzig is the largest city in the German state of Saxony, and the second-largest city (after East Berlin) in the area that was, until 1990, East Germany. The city is a key economic centre in Germany, a role it has held since at least the period of the Holy Roman Empire, and as such has plenty of culture and history.

Monument to the Battle of the Nations

One of the most imposing structures in Leipzig is the Völkerschlachtdenkmal, or Monument to the Battle of the Nations. This 91m high monument was completed in 1913 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Napoleon’s defeat at the Battle of the Nations to a coalition of Russian, Prussian, Austrian and Swedish armies.

Constructed over 15 years, the monument contains more than 26,000 granite blocks and there are more than 500 steps from the ground to the upper viewing platform. Admission to the monument is €8 or €6 for concessions with under 6s getting in free. From the top of the monument there are excellent views over the city and surrounding area, including the stunning façade of the Hauptbahnhof. Edit: Turns out you can’t see the Hauptbahnhof from the Monument, the photo below is taken from Leipzig’s tallest building

A view of Leipzig Hauptbahnhof’s impressive frontage

Leipzig Hauptbahnhof, Leipzig’s central station is Europe’s largest by floor area at a massive 83,460 square meters with a 298-meter-long façade. The station handles approximately 120,000 passengers a day over its 21 platforms and in 2020 was ranked as the best railway station in Germany and the third best in Europe.

As well as the now seemingly obligatory shopping centre that is part of the station, there are also a number of historic railway locomotives located on the site of closed track No. 24. During our visit the station also took on a very festive theme with a miniature Christmas market located on the station concourse. Whilst nothing in comparison to the main market located in the city centre, the station certainly gave a festive welcome to visitors to the city.

One of the entrances to the central section of Leipzig’s Christmas market

Dating back to 1458, Leipzig’s Christmas market is one of the most stunning in Germany and is situated in the city’s historic market square and surrounding streets. Generally, the market opens during the last week of November with it being planned to open on Saturday 28th November in 2020 (we’ll see whether that happens!).

With between 250 and 300 stalls each year, the market is also one of Germany’s largest, however being less well known that the likes of Cologne or Munich, is slightly less crowded. Our visit fell at the end of November and so we were visiting during the first few days and although busy and clearly popular, we were able to move around and enjoy ourselves.

Leipzig’s Rathaus

After having a few too many glühweins the night before, we spent our final day in the city leisurely exploring and visiting a couple more of the city’s highlights. The Museum in der Runden Ecke which translates as the “museum in the round corner” is situated in the former offices of the East German secret police, the Stasi. Located on the corner of one the city’s main streets, the Stasi office was in a prominent position, ensuring that the secret police were in the minds of the city’s residents even whilst operating behind the scenes.

Containing many items of the Stasi’s spying equipment and tools, the museum tells the story of how one of the most successful states of fear was created by turning ordinary citizens against each other. As the Atlas Obscura website states “Thankfully, the Stasi is long since defunct, but their legacy still lives on and thanks to the round corner office their despicable deeds will not be forgotten any time soon”.  

The inside of Nikolaikirche

One of our final stops within the city was the church of St. Nicholas, or Nikolaikirche, one of the largest churches in Saxony and location of Leipzig’s Monday Demonstrations opposing communist rule in the latter days of the German Democratic Republic. During the 18th century Johann Sebastian Bach was musical director of the church and a number of his famous works were premiered here including the St John Passion on Good Friday 1724.

Given its location in the centre of a merchant city, St. Nicholas’ is appropriately named after St. Nicholas, the patron saint of travellers and merchants. With construction initially started in 1165, the baroque main tower was added in 1730 with the portal dating from a few years later in 1759.

Leipzig city centre

Whilst the main reason for my visit to Leipzig was its airports role as the European hub for DHL, I thoroughly enjoyed the couple of days I had in the city. Given the amount of culture and number of museums dotted around that I didn’t even begin to see, Leipzig is definitely on my list of places to return to, and another visit to the Christmas market certainly wouldn’t go amiss.

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